Saturday, March 29, 2008

You!



I've been wondering about the readers of Girls, God and the Good Life and a bunch of questions came to mind.

What does a typical day look like in the life of (fill in your name)?

What does she love about her life and what would she want to change?

What issues are most important to her--those that she gets excited and happy about or that make her foot-stomping mad?

What in her daily life does she feel most gets in the way of her being all God meant her to be?

What scripture has she chosen for her life verse (for now)?

When she dreams big about the possibilities God can accomplish through her, how does she see herself as a world changer?

(Or "him" . . . as I know there are some readers who are guys.)

And, since I'm a writer like the others who post here, I wonder if there are some of you who love writing like we do and aspire to using your writing in ministry or as a profession.

Would you care to share about any of the above? I think the writers on this blog (definitely including me) would love to know more about you!

Jan

http://www.jankern.com/
http://choose2livefree.com/ (really hoping to launch soon!)

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Quick Tip To Understanding the Bible

As the author of a recent Bible study series, I receive emails from girls all the time who tell me that these books have gotten them reading the Bible on a regular basis. Occasionally, they write to ask me how to stay in the Bible once they've completed the Bible studies. How do I read the Bible without a guide that can help me work through some of the archaic language? Their questions aren't always worded the same, but they usually boil down to the same point. Reading the Bible, and actually understanding it, can be tough.

If we aren't careful we can actually take passages of Scripture completely out of context and start applying them in ways they were never intended to be used. Doing this not only butchers the Word of God, but it can also wreaks havoc on our own spiritual lives when God doesn't do something we believed He was going to do--even though He never intended for us to believe He would.

So, here's an easy trick to remember when you read the Bible. Aim to get a great TAN.

T: Then. Take a close look at the passage of Scripture you are reading. Who wrote it and who was he writing to? (There should be a note at the beginning of each book of the Bible with this information). What was the original purpose of that book of the Bible? (For example, 1 & 2 Timothy were letters Paul wrote to a discouraged young pastor.) Learning about the original audience and intention of the passage you are reading will help you interpret it correctly and it will give you understanding and insights you may have overlooked otherwise.

A: Always. Now examine the passage in light of what is always true about God. If you are reading in the Old Testament about God delivering the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, you will see that God proves Himself faithful as a provider. Even though the Israelites left the wealth of Egypt and went for 40+ years wearing the same shoes as they wandered through the wilderness, the soles of those shoes didn't wear out!

N: Now. Once you've gained some insight into the historical context, and the timeless truths about who God is, then you are ready to look for ways you can personally apply this passage. When you look for personal application, being aware of the historical context will prevent you from deviating from the original meaning of the text, and knowing biblical truth about who God is will keep you from applying the passage in a way that opposes God's character or nature. The first two steps in the TAN principle will help you apply the third principle correctly. Going back to the analogy about the Israelites in Egypt, by seeing God's faithfulness to them you can be assured that God will be faithful to provide for you--even if your dad just lost his job. You might not be able to buy all of the latest and greatest gadgets like you once did (it's not a promise of wealth), but you will be able to reast assured that God won't let you go hungry.

Hopefully, that gives you a fresh perspective to your regular Bible reading. Now, go get a great TAN!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not-so-luscious lips

Camy here. Warning: this post is a bit TMI, so stop reading if you want.

Remember two weeks ago I talked about lips and lip balm? Well it has bitten me back.

I have developed a yeast/fungal infection on the skin around my lips. It’s a little like a yeast infection you-know-where, except it’s drier. I’ve got a red rash around my mouth that looks like I’ve been overindulging in strawberries.

This totally sucks! At first I thought I had a few weird pimples, but Neosporin cream dabbed on them only made them worse. And then they started itching like crazy and seeping a teeny bit of clear fluid—and I knew what I had, because I’ve had this before.

This happened once when I was on vacation, and it pretty much ruined my entire vacation. So, I’ve taken precautions since then to ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

I got that yeast infection cream (miconozole) and have been using that on my skin. It’s slowly healing.

Now girls, here’s a word of warning—I tend to get this kind of infection because of lack of Vitamin B. At least, that’s what my doctor told me, and then I Googled it and it seems to be true according to lots of other websites, too.

I have been a Bad Camy and not taking my daily multivitamin. So if you don’t take a multivitamin every day, try to score some.

You can also get Vitamin B from stuff like milk, lentils, potatoes, shellfish, fish, and meat (especially liver). So guess what I had the first night this infection broke out? Fish/clam chowder! Yeah, baby! Milk, potatoes, fish and clams! Vitamin B OD!

Anyway, my skin has been clearing up, which is a good thing because the itching was driving me crazy. I no longer look like Bozo the Clown with all my red splotches.

I know you guys are probably tired of older people telling you to listen to them, but trust me on this, you don’t want your face to be itching so badly you feel like you could scratch your skin off.

Vitamin B! Daily multivitamin! Be healthy and stay itch-free!

Camy Tang is the loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick lit. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away five boxes of books and 25 copies of her latest release, ONLY UNI.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Teen People of the Bible


Good morning! I had the honor of contributing to a devotional book written by Daniel Darling called Teen People of the Bible. One of the things my small group girls ask for are good devotional books. I thought you might be interested, too. This is a great book to check out and I thought it would be fun to interview Daniel for our blog. Here is our conversation:

Tell me why a teen should read Teen People of the Bible:

Sarah, good question. If you’re a teen and you’ve really struggled to establish a daily quiet time with the Lord—I’m guessing its because you’ve tried, but just can’t understand the Scriptures or maybe have not found the Scriptures speaking to you.

Teen People is a bridge between you and the Bible. It takes the stories of young people in the Bible and brings them to life. It also compares their struggles to your struggles, which, are remarkably the same. There is also journaling space, questions that provoke serious thinking and prayers to help you get your prayer life going.

What prompted you to write this book?

Well, Sarah, like you, I really have a passion for Christian young people. I read the statistics that say how many of them are losing their way, abandoning the faith. I’m not sure I believe the statistics, because many of the young people I know are really sold out for God.

But remember being a teen. It wasn’t that long ago. And even though I was raised up in a good Christian home, attended a Christian school, and went to church three times a week, I still struggled to establish a relationship with God. Part of it was because I believed the myth that the Bible doesn’t speak to teens. I thought every character in there was an old man with a gray beard and like 10 wives. And that’s so not true.

This is a blog for Christian girls—can you tell me about a teenage girl in the Bible that resonates with girls today?

Well, there are several powerful stories of teen girls in the Bible. One obscure one is Salome. She was the daughter of Herodias, she lived in the palace, and was used to living the good life. But she made some really poor choices with her body and with her relationships that resulted in John the Baptist, a preacher sent by God, getting killed.

Salome made the same unfortunate mistake that many teens make today. She allowed others to determine her worth and her value. People weren’t interested in loving her—they were more interested in what she could give them. Its sad, really.

The message God has for teen girls is that He loves them for who they are, not what they can bring to Him. His love is matchless. Its superior. And it is far greater than anything someone may offer them in exchange for what they can give in return.

A positive example of a Christian girl is Rebekah. We often overlook her story and move right on into where she marries Isaac and lives “happily every after.” But Rebekah’s grace, purity, and selflessness exhibited that ordinary day at the well gives girls a great pattern for attracting the right kind of Christian man. Her story is very powerful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Write a letter!

Authors are said to be more aware of words than most. This may be true. But The United States Post Office is not far behind. They are pointing out the long term affect a letter can have on a person. The letter I remember most was one I found after my father died. The contents assured me that my father had accepted Christ.
Take a look at what the Post Office is doing.
You can get one card and send it free through http://poweroftheletter.com . It's part of
HBO's promotion of its John Adams miniseries, which is based primarily
on letters he and Abigail wrote throughout their courtship and
marriage.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Luscious lips

Camy here, inspired by my lip balm.

Yup, you read that right. I have a little round container of grapefruit and mango butter lip balm sitting next to me on my desk. I have been using liberal amounts of it the past week because my lips have started to chap.

I hate the fact my lips are so sensitive. I can’t use Chapstick anymore because my mouth breaks out in hives from some artificial thing they put in the Chapstick formula. I could probably figure out what it is, but I’ve been too lazy to read ingredients labels.

It’s something that most lip balms contain. The grapefruit and mango butter lip balm I use now doesn’t make me break out, and it has nothing artificial, just almond and coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, and grapefruit essential oil (well, I had to read that off the label, so I guess I’m not really that lazy).

The worst part was, I spontaneously became allergic to this artificial thing when I was on vacation at Disneyworld with my husband (then boyfriend). I put on my Chapstick that night, as usual, and then woke up the next morning with lips like those fake things you buy at Halloween. Except mine weren’t fake. Loooooovely vacation, that.

It took MONTHS for my lips to get back to normal size, I kid you not.

Anyway, my lip allergy has made me sensitive to lipstick, too. That totally sucks! I love the scented lipsticks and lip glosses but I won’t use most of them just in case I break out again, because no way am I walking around with astro-mongous lips for a few months again.

I love lipsticks and lip glosses. I admit I didn’t think much of them until I talked with my friend Julie Lessman, who is obsess—er, likes them a lot. More than I do.

Anyway, we were talking and she put on this great shade of lipstick. And she went on about how she wears lipstick all the time (which is why she looks so GREAT). And it made me realize ding! how much I like lipstick too, which is why my lip allergies hit me so hard at Disneyworld.

I haven’t worn much lipstick the past few years because of the allergy thing, but I found some brands that I’m not allergic to, so I SHOULD wear it more often, because hey—I love it. When Julie put her lipstick on, it gave her a little zing! that made her demeanor suddenly sparkle just a little more, just while we were sitting there.

For you, it might not be lipstick. Maybe it’s earrings, or the way you do your hair, or your eyes, or it might be a certain color you like to wear. WORK IT!

When you have on something that you like, it’s not vanity—it’s giving yourself a little boost. And that boost shows in more than the color on your lips, it shines in the way you hold yourself.

So do it! Give yourself a boost today.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Goofed, Now what do I do?

Have you ever said a word you shouldn't have? Made a remark that was cutting or inappropriate? Do you have a tongue? Then I guess you have. James 3:7 (The Message) "This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done."

But after you've done the wrong, what do you do? A friend of mine, an author, came into this disagreeable situation, only hers was in print, 5,000 times or more, for everyone to see.
Yowsers! So what did she do? She put out her apology as many places as she could. Here it is:

From author Linda Windsor. My heartfelt APOLOGIES regarding Wedding Bell Blues. I had two regrettable errors in this publication that, when called to my attention, I didn't at first believe it.
I didn't remember my hero having a Rhett Butler moment when he said "D_mn, I still love you, Alex."
And while I'd written unsaved character Sue Ann exclaiming, "Oh my g_wd!" with the intent of convicting Sue Ann of its blasphemy in her own book #4, I changed her mind after discussing it with my editor and deleted those occurences rather than offend anyone. Well, I missed one. The GOOD NEWS is that these have been removed from future printings and book club issues.
To anyone who read Wedding Bell Blues and was offended, my humble apologies. I'd written this book after my husband died and during those months of brain fog, I almost stopped writing because it was so hard to put coherent thought together. Then I turned it in months late, which put my publisher in a bind as far as getting the usual multiple editings. This was the result. Granted, I must have written these blunders or they would not have been there. For that, I can only ask for your forgiveness and understanding.


How many of us would have just asked God to forgive us and left it at that?
You know that old "go the extra mile" thing? It's usually for carrying a burden an extra mile, but what if it were applied to going an extra mile to find someone and apologize? Do you think that would make a difference in our world?
I do.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

How to be a diva--not


I did a booksigning a couple of weeks ago. Now, you may think this involves long lines of adoring fans, a cushy chair, an assistant kneeling next to you presenting each book to be signed, and a fountain pen. Maybe this happens in someone else's world, but it sure doesn't happen in mine. Yes, I dressed in my best, put on a big smile, and greeted customers in the lovely Christian bookshop. I hobnobbed with our own Camy Tang, and had some major laughs with her, Kristin Billerbeck, Brandilyn Collins, and M.L. Tyndall. Pretty famous company, huh? I thought so, too.

Then I went home and mucked out the chicken coop.

Portrait of the author: Lumber jacket, stained pants, flat-bladed shovel in hand, tossing out gobs of you-know-what, surrounded by interested hens looking for seeds to fall out of the newly opened hay bale. Now, this is real life!

It's also why I'll never be a diva. I used to worry about this, believe it or not. I used to be concerned that I'd take myself too seriously, would forget my old friends and where I came from. That was before I began rescuing chickens. The good Lord seems to be using them to keep me grounded. Anytime I think I deserve someone else's contract terms, someone else's eight-pocket floor display, or even the rose my writer's group gives for every new sale, I just remember that I have to get out there and clean the coop every other week. It keeps me humble. 

It's hard to be a diva with hay in your hair. And I think God knows that.

Shelley
whose new website launches next Monday! 
http://www.allaboutusbooks.net

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Doing Something

My husband left for South Africa last Saturday. I have to admit that I was a little jealous because I love Africa, but there was no hope for me going since I am 6 months pregnant. He went to shoot video footage for a documentary about an orphanage there. He was invited to go by an organization called LUO.

A girl who wasn't much older than most of you (she is about 21 years old) went to Africa last year and came back with a strong desire to do something more. So, she created a non-profit organization called LUO which exists with a mission of setting children free from poverty. They come along side orphanages in Africa and implement economic sustainability, biblical education, academic education, financial support, and medical care. Check out this link www.luo-setfree.org to hear Lindsay describe why she is does what she does.

The thing I love most about Lindsay's story is that she saw a need and wanted to do something about it. Sometimes we don't even see the need. I am guilty of this all the time. But, sometimes we see the need and just don't do something about it. God wants us to play a part in His bigger story. There are things happening not only the world but also in your personal world. It doesn't have to be something big like starting an organization for children in Africa. It could be something small like seeing the same girl sit by herself at lunch everyday. Maybe it's time to do something about that. Loneliness breaks our Father's heart.

I hope this inspires you to look around and ask God to show you what breaks His heart and how you can do something in order to be apart of His bigger story.

Sarah Bragg

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Release

When I started writing the Live Free series, I didn't know how tough it would be or where it would take me or the others who participated. None of us knew when we started talking about issues like self-injury and sexual compromise how hard it would be to tell some of the stories--but oh, how much it was needed. Sometimes there were healing tears. Often there was hope: "Maybe someone, by knowing my story, won't have to go through what I did," and even more,"Maybe others will begin to believe there is a way out for them too."

March 3rd, the second in the series released. Seduced by Sex, Saved by Love--A Journey Out of False Intimacy is the true story of a young woman named Suzy. Others also offered their stories and perspectives for the book--both girls and guys.

I think the best way I can introduce it to you is through Suzy's letter, included in the book:

In my one chance to address you directly, there are so many things I want to say. I want you to know I am praying for you. I want you to know that I know what it feels like to look at your own life, and despise what you see, feel trapped in who you’ve become and the cycle of compromises you’ve made.

Dear friend, I have made choices in my life where, I thought for sure there was no turning back. The consequences were detrimental at best, and often I was left with gaping wounds in the depths of my soul.

What can I tell you that will make a difference? I can only pray God reaches through my story and touches your life for the better.

An important point for me to make is that you haven’t gone where God will not go. He is in active pursuit of you. Sometimes we think we need to clean up our lives to come to him. Not so. If you are in the muck, turn around. He is there.

In the midst of all my facades, lies, promiscuity, self-destruction, and selfishness, the God of sinners pulled me to himself, set my feet on solid ground, wiped off the dirt, and began to make me whole. If he can do that for me, then he can do that—and even more, if needed—for you.

Suzy
Read more about Seduced by Sex, Saved by Love--A Journey Out of False Intimacy at my author blog. Click on "books" in the left column. Just under the book image on that page, you'll also find a link to an excerpt. If you'd like, tell me what you think.

God bless!
Jan

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Will You Stand in the Gap?


Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, Ron Luce of Teen Mania. This is a huge ministry that reaches out to teens and has won tens and tens of thousands for Christ. Ron has a burden and a passion for reaching the youth of America. He really brought home the point that the fate of Christianity, it's very survival and outreach depends on our teen culture. Teens, are you ready for that challenge? (No pressure or anything...)

Here are stats from Luce that got my attention.
1. Barna reports that 83 percent of teens believe that "moral truth depends on the circumstances. Only 6 percent believe that moral truth is absolute." AND only 9 percent of CHRISTIAN teens believe in moral absolutes. In other words, whether a sin is sin depends on the circumstances versus the truth of the Bible.

2. 65%of those born in 1927-1945 claimed to be Bible-based believers.
35% of those born in 1946-1964 claimed to be Bible based believers.
16% of Gen X'ers (my generation)
Only 4% of those born from 1984 or later claim to be Bible based Christians.
100 % of me is scared of that statistic. What about you?

3. There are 71 MILLION of you "Millennials" (those born 1984 or later). You are our biggest population group right now.

4. Research shows that once a child reaches 20, the odds of reaching that individual for Christ are about 10 percent. Barna Research Groups states that "what you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing."

I could go on and on. Bottom line--SCARY.
Teens and Pre-teens, we have never needed you more. Your generation is operating at 96 percent claiming to be unbelievers. Who among you will stand up and spread the Word? Who among you is ready to invite friends to church, to help bring people to faith before it's too late? The current culture has never been so bombarded with media saturation, violence, graphic images, new rules for "acceptable" language, not to mention rates of damaged home lives off the charts. It's a tough world out there. It's not going to be easy. To quote a Beyonce song, "We need some soljas."
Ready to go to work?

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."
Ezekial 22:30


Jenny B. Jones
Check out my blog HERE.

Book reference Battle Cry for a Generation, by Ron Luce. Cook Communications Mininstries, 2005.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Enough



For those of you who write, you've probably heard of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I'm going for the first time March 13. The what if's have been trying to intimidate me lately. I'm a non-fiction articles writing trying to make the leap into the fiction world. I'm going to be mailing two copies of my proposal this week for review.

I'm convinced most of us struggle with at least something. My biggie is totally trusting God. Sometimes I wonder if He must be saying, "Julie-babe, you wear me out. Chill out. I've got you." Of course He's smiling as He says it.

Not every day but most days I read the Proverbs that matches the day of the month. (easy because there are 31)

Listen to part of Proverbs 3 from The Message. I read it this morning. It felt as though I'd never read it in my entire life. It hit me with TRUTH all over again:

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart. Don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in EVERYTHING you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!
(GET THIS) Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!"

That just about makes me start dancing all alone in my writing loft--the power of the Word. For today, I'm going to hang onto them and to Him.

Anybody want to share what your One Biggie is?

Love

Julie
www.juliegarmon.com

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Beauty as Solomon sees it.

I've known of Vonda Skelton for a while. I have just started exploring her You Tube offerings. Believe me, you have to see this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEmhI8FL_ZI

This woman demonstrates her understanding of the Bible's perception of beauty.

It's hilarious.

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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