Friday, December 31, 2010

Thoughts for a New Year

If God has called you to be really like Jesus, He will draw you to a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it; and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their success, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants you to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small.

He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit of it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He may let others get the credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own.

He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you. But if you absolutely sell yourself to be His...slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others.

Now when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.


(attributed to G. D. Watson)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's okay to get messy

This is Connor:



Connor has recently taken his first bites of cereal. Yesterday morning, after about three bites, this is what he looked like:



Do I get mad at him for making a mess? Of course not.

Do I expect him to already know to eat? Nope.

Is my patience running out because we're a couple weeks into this cereal thing and he still gets so messy? No.

It's New Year's Resolution time, as Camy drew our attention to yesterday. I don't know about you, but I always have a long list of things I'm hoping to improve on in the coming year. And I know there are a couple things God would like me to work on. Wow, is it going slow.

But as I've been working with Connor on the whole cereal thing, it occurred to me that God probably doesn't mind the learning process either. He knows these traits and disciplines feel foreign to me, and He gets that it takes time. And it won't bother Him when I mess up along the way.

You know what would frustrate me with Connor? Is if he didn't even try to eat. If he just locked his mouth shut and refused. Because he needs to learn to eat. From his perspective, I'm sure it feels unnecessary. He's gone his entire life without doing this stuff, why start with this goopy stuff now? But of course I know that if he doesn't, bad things will happen.

Thankfully, Connor's trusting me on this and has learned to enjoy his food. Just like if we keep plugging away at the things God's trying to teach us, we'll find enjoyment there as well. In the meantime, it's okay to get messy.

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com and www.GoTeenWriters.com.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years’ Resolutions

Camy here, and yes, I’m already thinking about New Year’s Resolutions!

I have to admit I love making resolutions even though I don’t always keep them. There’s something about a fresh new year with new intentions and hopes.

My resolutions aren’t anything unusual:

1) Keep up with my running
2) Control my eating and lose 20 pounds this year
3) Be more efficient and improve my time management

How about you? What do you hope to do during 2011?


Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous contemporary romance novel, Single Sashimi, and her romantic suspense, Formula for Danger. 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 ponders dogs, knitting and spinning wool, running, Asiana, and other frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveways!

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A simpler Christmas


Over on one of my yahoogroups populated by plain folks who use the Internet, there’s a big discussion on the commercialism of Christmas. One I kinda have to agree with, especially when I drive past the mall and the traffic to get in is so congested you can only imagine what the stores are like. I’m not a big fan of cramming Christmas shopping into an already busy season. So, I started thinking of ways to stay out of those crowds and slow down a bit.
  • Buy gifts throughout the year, as you see them. Summer is big on neighborhood craft fairs and art shows, so you could pick up a pretty blown-glass candle holder for your mom, or an fun little print for your best friend made by a local artist.
  • In the late summer and early fall, can fruit and make jam. Then, at Christmas, tie a pretty bow around the jar, or put a collection of canning in a basket and give it to the whole family to enjoy.
  • Make gifts as you have time throughout the year. Know what’s really in right now? Aprons. Yep, thanks to TV shows like Mad Men and movies set in the 50s and 60s, those fun retro aprons are back. They’re straightforward to sew, and guess what … the fabric stores are full of cute retro fabrics to match the era.
  • Reuse and recycle. Another way to use your creativity is to look at old things with an eye to making them new. Do you have a jewelneck T-shirt that you don’t wear anymore? Get some chiffon, a couple of sparkly buttons, and some ribbon and dress up the neckline. Check out tops in online stores like Nordstrom to get design ideas and make your own. Or how about that sweatshirt with the stain down the front? Cut off the binding at hem and sleeve, cut it down the front, and bind all the raw edges with strips of velvet. Then embellish the front with ribbon roses. Voila–the advantages of looking new with the comfort of feeling old.
  • Decorate with things from the yard. This year, our Christmas tree is a recycled one from a local event at the community center. And the garlands on the mantel? They’re branches from the trees outside. We have bay trees everywhere in this neighborhood–I joke that they flourish like the wicked instead of the other way around :)
  • If you make your garlands from bay leaves, they’ll dry over the season–and hey, you can strip the branches in January and put the leaves in an airtight jar to use in cooking throughout the year.
What kinds of things do you do to simplify things during the holidays? Sometimes just the gift of your time can make someone happy--so think about freeing up a couple of hours to give that gift.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Tradition!

While reading a friend’s blog post about her many Christmas traditions, I began to wish that my family had more. Sure, we have certain things that we do year after year but they didn’t seem as exciting as some that I’d heard and read about. Then God stopped me in my tracks as I watched my youngest son take a Hershey’s Kiss out of the Advent Calendar and name something that he was thankful to God for. Why did I constantly compare myself to others and decide that I fell short? What about the things we DID do?

We actually have many fun traditions that “it would not be Christmas without.” Here is our list:

• Putting a creative twist on the Advent Calendar (Last year I slipped a verse or Christmas quote into each slot along with a treat and Nathan had to read it before he got the candy. This year he is thanking God for something before eating a Hershey’s Kiss.)
• Each of our sons gets a special ornament so they’ll have a collection to take with them when they move out.
• Putting the nice Christmas China in the cupboard at least a week before Christmas so we can use it several times instead of just on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning
• Making Russian Tea Cakes (We aren’t Russian, we just like the cookies.)
• Watching A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and The Polar Express
• Setting aside an evening to wrap gifts while watching Little Women
• Pasta for dinner on Christmas Eve
• Attending our church’s Christmas Eve service
• Leaving a cookie for Santa even though both sons know who really eats it as soon as they go to bed
• Reading the verses and quotes taken from the Advent Calendar, before opening gifts on Christmas morning (This we started last year and I saved the verses.)

I often wonder what my kids will pass on to their own Children. What will they think up on their own?

What are some of your traditions? How do they make celebrating Christ’s birth even more meaningful?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh How I Love This



There are two spots in this video that make me tear up. One is when the little boy smiles. The other one a quick scene--easy to be overlooked.

Just curious. What parts touch your heart as you watch this?
Love,
Julie

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Lost Art of Gift-Wapping


I had two friends over last night, and they helped me wrap some presents. I realized as we worked that wrapping presents is one of the activities in our society that has been relegated to quick-and-easy-is-best. Kind of like instant pudding and cake mix in a box, wrapping a present has evolved into buying a pretty bag. We drop the gift into a cushion of tissue paper, arrange colorful tissue paper on top and we're done.

I remember going over to my friend's house before Christmas and their huge dining room table was devoted to preparing gifts for giving. We cut the paper from a roll, making sure not to waste any of the lovely paper. We folded the ends over the box just so. It was more complicated than hospital corners on bedsheets. There was a pile of ribbons, bows, and decorations, new and some save from year to year. Our family has a box that circulates. The box is over fifty years old and has been taped at the corners innumerable times.

My aunt had her wrapping center in a guest room. My bedroom was the center of our gift-wrapping and I usually got the privilege of wrapping most of the gifts.

Why am I going on and on about wrapping gifts? Because it occurred to me that God wrapped His Gift to us with tremendous care. Images of a heavenly host in a star-studded sky springs to mind. A star so bright that it led wise men from afar to the town of Bethlehem. The manger, the donkey, the shepherds, all bring a special touch to the wrappings of Christmas. Each has become a symbol, saying more than what the object means when standing alone. The donkey reminds us of care given to the mother of Christ even as she endured an arduous journey. The manger tells us that Jesus is for all people, not just the rich or ruling class. The shepherds emphasize that anyone can come to worship the King.

When I give a gift, it really doesn't matter if it is wrapped with crisp corners or hidden under a sheet of tissue. What matters is my heart as I prepare an offering of friendship and love.

My advice for the season? Enjoy the gifts you give as much as the gifts you get. Enjoy the process of wrapping. Enjoy the gift that God has given you, filling your heart with joy and hope.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Losing Dignity



I have this thing about baby talk. And it's this: I hate it.

By baby talk I mean that high voice people tend to morph to when they talk to babies. I hate how they add "ie" to everything. Horsie. Doggie. Blankie. And I hate when they use a "W" sound when it should be an "R," Like all babies are training to be Elmer Fudd.

With McKenna, my first, my husband and I vowed NO BABY TALK. We did pretty well. I'm certainly guilty of utilizing the high voice on occasion, but I've never said to her, "Look at the horsie." And McKenna seemed kinda baby talk neutral. She would smile at me regardless of what voice I used, so it was a pretty easy choice.

And then, 5 months ago, Connor came along. Connor is a tougher nut to crack. Or at least for me. I figured out pretty quickly that the higher my voice goes, the bigger his smile gets. The stupider I sound, the happier he is.

So what do I do? I choose to sound stupid. Because I care more about seeing Connor smile than I do about sounding dignified.



And it reminded me of King David.

In 2 Samuel chapter six, it says, "Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing."

Then later it says, "Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets."

When his wife, Michal, saw him behaving like this, the Bible records that she "despised him in her heart." And she later confronted him, saying, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

And then David responds, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

David had perspective.

He cared more about how he was viewed in God's eyes than the rest of the world. He even cared more about God's opinion than his wife's. Because of that, he allowed himself to be without dignity.

I love Connor, and making him smile is worth every ounce of dignity I lose. How much more so should I embrace that sentiment with regards to the Lord?

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com and www.GoTeenWriters.com.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Gift of Music and Freedom



Do you ever have a hard time finding the perfect gift for your friends or family members? It can be a challenge, especially when the people I love don't really need anything. I always want to give something they will enjoy and keep enjoying, but I also want my gifts to make Jesus smile. It's His birthday, after all.

This year I found the perfect gift for everyone on my Christmas list! The gift of music and freedom. JUBILEE is an indie folk rock band based in Seattle, and they're also a registered non-profit organization. 50% of all their sales goes toward the work of International Justice Mission, fighting modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

JUBILEE's new album, To See You Well , releases in January (it's amazing!), and right now they're offering a special opportunity to pre-order for Christmas.

"But wait," you say. "January comes after Christmas." You are very observant. And so is JUBILEE. If you pre-order To See You Well before December 15, you'll receive a card with original album artwork and other goodies in time to give them (or keep them!) for Christmas. The CD will follow as soon as it is released. Click HERE to watch a brief video explaining how you can give the gift of music and freedom. The Christmas special offer ends December 15, so order yours today.

I'm pretty sure you and Jesus will both smile.

Love, Jeanne

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Wish List!

When I was in high school I had two friends from church who told me they got everything on their Christmas list. EVERYTHING. What did a "cool" Christmas list look like in 1986? I don't remember their whole list, but here are a few things I remember:

  • a waterbed (they were cool back then)
  • new Jordache jeans (all the rage)
  • a VCR (yes, the old tape kind)
  • the soundtrack for Pretty in Pink (on cassette)

I remember being jealous when the day after Christmas these two girls confirmed their parents had fulfilled their wishes. I also felt a little sad for them. I mean what's the fun of opening Christmas presents if you already know what's inside?

I also laugh at the things we thought were cool back then. Fads come and go, which makes me think of my own Christmas wish list.

This year I have a few things on my wish list that I'd like. They include some WWII non-fiction books and a few fun bath items, because soaking and reading is one of my favorite past times. My own list isn't as large as it used to be, mostly because I've been practicing being more thankful--even before Thanksgiving.

During the Christmas season it's easy to be more focused on what we want, rather than what we have. And while it's okay to be eager to see what gifts await you under the tree, our greatest gifts aren't wrapped with bows.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).

What to feel really thankful? Take a moment to think about what would happen if God took these "gifts from above" away. Frightening isn't it?

Considering this gives me a whole new outlook. It also makes me more eager to create a new type of list.

One of the things I've been doing lately is thinking of 10 things I'm thankful for as soon as I wake up in the morning. It's amazing what this does for the outlook of my day.

My thankfulness list doesn't include my bed, jeans, dvd, or iPod, although it could. Mostly I've been thanking God for my health, for money to pay the bills, for good friends, for a husband and children who love me, and for my salvation. These are things that mean the most--true gifts from God.

What's on your list? I'd love to hear. There will always be little things we'd like to have, but remember to take time to thank God for the large gifts in your life you don't want to live without.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Just Enough to Not Trust


Last week a friend took me on a tour of Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California, as research for a writing project. We had a great tour guide. Susie spent over an hour and a half with us, showing us all over the grounds, introducing us to dogs and adorable puppies (guide dogs in training), and telling about the genetics, science, and careful selection that goes into training and choosing dogs that will be most capable of leading the blind and visually impaired.

When I told her that I was visually impaired, Susie took immediate interest. Of course she asked if I’d ever gone through guide dog training or considered using one. I explained that, while I was born legally blind, I had been trained to adapt to the sighted community. After we talked for awhile, Susie made an interesting comment.

“You might be seen as someone who has just enough vision to not trust a guide dog.” I also learned too many adaptation skills to let a dog lead, no questions asked.
I have a feeling that Susie is right. I can’t remember I time when I wasn’t encouraged to rely on my ability to compensate for limited sight—to find a way to “do it myself” instead of expecting others to hold my hand. The good part is that I memorize quickly, listen closely, and don’t need to see something to find it or get a job done. On the other hand I hesitate to ask for help with anything vision related. If a guide dog tried to stop me from crossing a street and my ears didn’t detect a problem, I might just keep walking and get mowed over by one of those new quiet cars.

Later I thought about other areas where I have just enough confidence in my own ability to be a threat to myself. Take God, for example. There are times when I must admit that I have just enough vision to not trust Him. I know what I’m doing. I know the plan. I’ve mapped out my route. “I can do it myself.” How often have I gotten frustrated with Him for holding me back and ran on ahead, only to be knocked down, or carry out a plan without consulting Him at all?

Maybe it’s better to be blind sometimes. When you are blind you know you need help. So I took note of Susie’s comment and applied it to my walk with God. I don’t want to be a child who has too much vision to trust—too much confidence to admit my need for Him.

In what areas do you have just enough “vision” to not trust? How have you learned to rely on Him as if you were a blind girl with her guide dog?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Messy Closet, Messy Heart




Some things I'm not too picky about. My closet, as you can see. My drawers. My pantry. So, I got to thinking. I'm so used to these areas of clutter, I don't even notice them anymore. I scrounge through my stuff until I find what I need and go on about my business.

Just for fun, I had a friend who's good at organizing take a peek into my pantry. "What do you think? How bad is it?" She's a good friend, so I wasn't too embarrassed.

"Hmmm."

"Tell the truth."

"Well, you could start by putting like things together. You know, canned goods and whatnot."

Then I started thinking. Is my heart cluttered? Are there messy areas inside me that I've been ignoring for years? Things I've overlooked? Habits I should do away with? Thoughts that weigh me down? Have I gotten so used to being the way I am, that I've not noticed the junk?

I'd like to say nope, that I was spotless on the inside. But I wasn't.

I actually made a list. I've struggled with these same areas for years. I'm working hard at changing. Even if it means I have to clean up my thoughts daily.

1. Fear.
2. Perfectionism (you wouldn't think so with the looks of my closet).
3. Choosing to please people rather than God.
4. Not trusting God--thinking I know best.

I'm working on my cleaning my closet, drawers, and pantry--and my heart. Thank you for reading. Can anybody relate?

Love,
Julie

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Reading Diary

What would your reading diary look like?
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. I think we are better, more diverse readers than they give us credit for.
Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Select all and get rid of my bolds, italics, and asterisks. Then mark your own list as follows.
• Bold those books you've read in their entirety. ...• Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt. Put and asterisk (*) by the ones you've seen as movies, or seen part of as a movie or TV program

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen *
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien *
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte *
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling *
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee *
6 The Bible *
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte *
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens *
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott *
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy *
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare *
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier *
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien *
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot *
21 Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell *
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald *
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams *
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck *
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame *
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens *
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis *
34 Emma -Jane Austen *
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen *
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis *
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne *
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery *
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy *

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding *
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens *
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck *
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas *
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville *
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens *
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett *
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce *
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray *
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens *
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro *
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White *
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery *
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams *
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas *
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare *
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl *
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo *

How'd you do? I did better than I thought I would. Also, I was a little embarrassed that I've never made it all the way through the Bible. Why don't you start a reading diary? I wish I had as a budding reader. It may reveal to you something about your personality and your strengths. Put in the title of the book and author and the date you read the book. You may want to comment on why you chose the book. Did someone recommend it? Did you have to read it for school? Did you get it from the library, a friend, or did you buy it? What did you think of the book? Did you learn anything about yourself as you read? Would you recommend it to others? Would you read it again? Is it a keeper or does it go into a donation box? Have some fun learning about your reading habits. And praise God for the alphabet. I can't imagine a world without books.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A lesson from pretzel goldfish



A couple weeks ago, on a grocery store whim, I picked up a bag of pretzel goldfish for my 3-year-old. In McKenna's eyes, this is possibly the smartest thing I've ever done.

She loves them so much, they've become her most requested snack, replacing fruit snacks and cocoa almonds. When we're out shopping, I toss a Ziploc bag of them in my purse as a potential reward for good behavior.

Yesterday at Costco, she devoured her bag of goldfish as my husband and I jetted up and down the aisles. As we buzzed toward check-out, McKenna held up one of the remaining few goldfish to my husband and said, "Daddy, would you like one?"

My first thought was, "What a sweet, generous girl we've raised!"

And then I thought, "But of course she doesn't yet grasp that there's a finite amount of pretzel goldfish. Even if she ran out, she'd just say, 'That means it's time to go to the store.'"

And that's when I started thinking about my own generosity and how I tend to hoard what's precious to me. From little things like the frappuccinos in my refrigerator, to bigger things like my free time, or even money.

I hope I can grow to be more like my preschooler in such things. Because everything I have really belongs to my Father, and He has infinite resources. He's in charge of all creation.

If I offered my brother-in-law a frappuccino next time he came over - instead of saying, "You're welcome to anything except my frappuccinos" - I'm guessing it would all even out somehow. (Actually, as I typed that, I remembered that my brother-in-law bought me coffee on Friday night, so I actually owe him....)

It's scary to give like that - like there's an abundance of replenishments - which is why I shy away from doing it. Every time I prepare a baggie of pretzel goldfish for my daughter, I'm going to pray that God will give me more opportunities to be generous with people, and thereby increase my faith in Him to provide. And my boldness to say, "All out, God. It's time to go to the store."

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com and www.GoTeenWriters.com.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Figuring it all out!

askmissa.com

In your teen years it's a time when you will come to a fork in the road. Do you believe God because that's what your parents believe? Or do you believe God because ... you believe?

If you're at the point in your life when you're trying to figure it out, here are some questions to ask.

The Bible is ...
The Bible means ____________________ to me.
Jesus is ...
The one way to get to heaven is ....
As God's child I ....
Those who do don't follow Jesus will ...
God has given me a Holy Spirit to ...
As a believe God wants me to ...

If you'd like to share your answers, please leave them in the comment section. If you don't know the answers, please leave that i the comments too. All us blog writers here would love to help you with your questions!

Friday, November 19, 2010

"I've Always Wanted to Learn to . . . "


I have a long list of things that I’ve wanted to learn to do. The problem is finding the time to do them and/or someone to teach me. Well, a few weeks ago I finally got to scratch one item off my “I’ve always wanted to learn to . . . “ list. It all started at our church’s women’s retreat.

During dinner, several ladies were talking about knitting and crocheting. Diane and Marion were both working on projects for the homeless; Diane was knitting scarves for them and Marion was creating ropes made from plastic grocery bags and crocheting them into sleeping mats (the process alone is amazing). I’ve wanted to learn to knit and crochet for years!

“My grandma taught me to crochet over wire hangers when I was a kid,” I piped in. “But that’s as far as I got.”

“I can teach you to crochet,” Marion said. “It isn’t hard at all. We can meet for an hour before choir practice.”

We started that week. While I started out feeling like I’d never get it right (I have a beginner’s sampler to prove it), I quickly caught on and am officially hooked. Last week I made a set of six coasters and now I’m working on a scarf.

In addition to the fun of learning a new skill, my weekly lessons have provided a very peaceful respite from the busyness of my everyday life. Instead of teaching others (Did I mention that I’ve been teaching a writing class through a community college enrichment program?) I am the one growing and being taught. I am learning a craft that is not only enjoyable, but useful. The coasters and scarf will both be Christmas gifts for family members. On top of all of this I am getting to know Marion, which is such a blessing!

So what is on your “I’ve always wanted to learn to . . . “ list? What is stopping you from giving one of those things a try?

Make your desire known. You might discover that you are sitting beside someone who is willing to teach you.

Seize the opportunity. When you get the chance to achieve a goal (or at least test it out), go for it!

Enjoy the benefits. A sense of accomplishment is only one of the many rewards of learning something new. Pay attention to the many others, like how it allows you to make new friends and step out of your ordinary world.

So again, what have you always wanted to learn? And what’s stopping you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I love this blog--Praise and Coffee. I found this story and song there.

So beautiful. Here's the story behind the song.



Here's the actual song video.




Love,
Julie

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What we get talked into.

Yeah, it sounded like fun and easy to do, but it is never easy to ask friends for money. I'm sure hoping people donate, not only because I feel like an idiot getting myself into this predicament. But also, because it is a good cause. They have made tremendous headway in the fight against muscular dystrophy. One of my landlords when I was very young had a son afflicted with this malady. I am so glad that kids today have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life. This organization has been around for years and 75% of what they raise goes straight to the patients.
So I'm going to jail on Thursday.

DON’T LEAVE ME IN THERE! Let's hang the vacant sign.

I’m going behind bars for good THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH and I need to raise $1,500 to send children to MDA Summer Camp in Empire, CO. Their smiles are worth my time in the slammer!

This is my final plea to get bailed out of jail at Biaggi’s. You can help me reach my bail by visiting my webpage (click the link below) where you can make an easy, secure contribution online.



https://www.joinmda.org/csnorth2010/donitakpaul



Thank you so much for your support. Let’s hope I look good in stripes!



Towards a cure,

Donita K. Paul

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Filling Baskets



I just sent off a proposal to my agent. A process that I've found doesn't get easier with time. Those questions niggle in the back of my mind every time my cursor hovers over that "send" button: "What if she hates it? What if she reads it and regrets signing me? What if all my ideas are tired and predictable? What if I've lost my ability to perceive a good idea from a bad one?" And so on.

So I'm grateful for the story in John 6 of the little boy who helped Jesus feed five thousand. The story is in my preschoolers rhyme Bible, which my daughter constantly reads (seen pictured below) so I've become extra familiar with the events.



According to John 6, there's a crowd following Jesus and he asks his disciples where they should buy bread for everyone to eat. The disciples cannot conceive of how they'll manage to feed such a crowd, but Andrew brings forward a boy who has "five small barley loves and two small fish." We're told that Jesus gave thanks for the food, began to distribute it to the crowd, and miraculously there was even food left over. Enough to fill twelve baskets, we're told.

My entire life, I've read this as an account of what happened that day. Which is a fine way to read it.

But the last time I read to McKenna the story of "The Boy who Shared His Lunch," it struck me as a parable for what happens when we see a need and do our best to meet it while offering our work to Jesus.

The boy sees that there is a need. A huge need. I'm guessing he never dreamed his lunch would feed the entire crowd, but he came forward thinking it might be able to feed somebody. He sacrificed. And Jesus took what little the boy sacrificed and supernaturally met the need at hand.

There's nothing wrong with you wanting to be the best you can be. With wanting to be the best swimmer or the best student or the best friend. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

But don't worry when you fall short. Don't worry when the need around you seems far too large for you to hope to make even a dent. We learn from the boy who shared his lunch, who sacrificed personal comfort to meet the needs of others, that God can stretch your talents, abilities, time, and riches to go further than you ever could have imagined.

The proposal I sent to my agent isn't perfect. I'll never be able to make it so. But I've done my best and now it's time to turn it over to Jesus. He gave me the inspiration, He sees the needs it can meet, and now the wait begins. Not the nail-biting wait to see if this book will sell, but the eager, joy-filled wait to see Jesus show up and fill some baskets.

-Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com and www.GoTeenWriters.com.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Dreaming of Mr. Right

It’s easy to spot Mr. Right in the movies or in a good novel. He’s the one who shows up out of nowhere, casts a handsome smile, and sweeps little Miss Lonely off her feet. There are struggles to be sure. There may be moments when Mr. Right seems long gone, but if the movie/book is one of those happily-ever-after stories Him and Her will end up realizing their love and committing themselves to each other for life. Riding off in the sunset with Mr. Right is the correct ending for every good story.

Yet there is a time in all of our lives when we doubt there is a Mr. Right for us. Those dumb boys at school aren’t nearly as cute, or smart, or kind as the heroes on television, but sometimes that doesn’t seem to matter very much because we’re not necessarily Cinderella or even Snow White.

At night, as we lay in bed drifting off in sleep we may dream about our future, about our wedding day and our life, our career and our kids. But once we’re at school, or work, those thoughts seem like fading dreams. Our focus turns to reality—to today—and we forget to plan, or pray for, all those tomorrows that are hanging in the future with bright expectations.

We don’t think about Mr. Right at school. Or when we’re with our friends. We don’t consider our future wedding day and all the marriage days to follow. Instead we look around and see that all our friends are dating and we want to keep up. We watch the teen movies and desire some of that romance that we see on the big screen. We feel empty inside, incomplete, and we want loved. Need love. Sure our parents, and siblings, and maybe even friends from church or school love us, but it’s not the same. We want to experience those giddy feelings and that flutter of butterflies in our stomachs … you may feel that way, too.

So then comes the day when that guy that sits three seats in front of you in Chemistry asks you out you quickly agree. He’s just average looking, and he doesn’t go to church. He mostly hangs around his friends and plays video games or football on the front lawn after school. He’s not someone you can really imagine spending your life with, but he’s not that bad and he likes you. And you don’t want to miss the chance. After all you do want to go to the prom and you do want to experience a kiss. And so those hopes that you had when you were drifting off to sleep are forgotten. Mr. Right is just a fantasy and you live for the here and now. After all, there is no guarantee for a good future, right?

Then again, maybe there is something you can do. Maybe there is something you can do with your friends. It’s a place to start. And it starts on your knees. Before you date. Before you give your heart PRAY. Pray for God to guide you. Pray for His will. Seek HIS peace.

And then, if you don't have peace that this guy is God's good, perfect will for you ... at this time ... for your heart.

Run. Run away from temptation. Run to God.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Who is in the Lead?


San Francisco’s yearly Fleet Week draws families from all over the California Bay Area. While the military ships are exciting to see, the biggest attraction is the Blue Angels. This year I happened to be visiting my parents during Fleet Week so we made a spontaneous trip across the Bay. Knowing how crowded the city would be, we drove to a former military base in nearby Sausalito. For over 30 minutes we watched the famous team of planes zoom over our heads in tight formations. The loops and dives didn’t amaze me nearly as much as the fact that the planes didn’t crash into one another. They were so frighteningly close!

Later, my dad (who flies small planes and loves to read about aviation) explained how the pilots do it. Six planes may be grouped together but only the lead pilot keeps his eyes on the sky, watching for what’s ahead. The rest are assigned a specific spot on the plane ahead of them, to watch at all times. Each pilot knows that attempting to look ahead instead of at his assigned spot could not only pull him out of formation, but could cause a fatal error, both for him and whoever he crashes into. He must trust that lead pilot to know what is ahead and guide the group.

I immediately saw God as that lead pilot, watching the skies ahead, and myself as one of those commanded to keep my eyes on one spot. How often do I insist on looking ahead, unable to trust the One in the lead to know what He is doing? And what happens each time, without fail? I either fly off course or cause a crash. It might not be literally fatal but it does damage. Thankfully, God, in His kindness, never fails to guide me back, offering a loving reminder that things will work out so much better if I just obey and keep my eyes on the assigned spot.

More and more, I am learning the benefits of trusting God with what is ahead. All I have is my assigned focal point—today. He guides me through each loop, dive, and breathtaking assent. When I have the faith to simply follow I have peace. Even if it seems like His directions are making me air sick, I accept that He knows what He is doing and that I’ll land safely when we’re finished.

Are you struggling to trust God for what is ahead? Try asking Him to point out the one thing He wants you to focus on for today. Pray that He will help you trust Him to lead until this season of dips and sickening loops comes to an end.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Love Notes



I'm sitting here in my writing loft looking at index cards I've scotch-taped around me. When I'm feeling discouraged, I read them as though they're love notes from God. I guess they are. The words never lose their power. I've read them a zillion times.

When my three children were little, I'd send love notes in their lunch bags--often with a scripture included. Sometimes I left love notes in their rooms. This scripture is to my left, written on a neon green index card. I remember writing it for each child. Believing it for all three children. A perfect scripture for me, too. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6 Don't you love it?

If I look to my right, there's an orange index card. "Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down. He won't leave you." Deut 3:15 Thank you, Lord.

Here's a simple love note a friend sent me:
Be still.
Don't run.
Let me.

Reminders of God's love, power, and grace never lose their power. They bring me back to Him over and over.

Do you have a scripture you cling to?

My love,
Julie

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day


from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, who hast created us in thine own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

27 things I've learned this year



Today's my 27th birthday, and the following is a list of 27 things I've learned and discovered this last year. In no particular order.

1. The berries inside pomegranates are called arils. And that there's an easier way to cut them up.

2. How to diaper a baby boy.

3. That I don't have to type "130" when I want to microwave something for a minute and thirty seconds. I can type "90."

4. The fabulous writings of Sarah Sundin.

5. That natural child birth is quite painful. Even when it only lasts 90 minutes.

6. In that same vein, having a book and a baby come out in the same month makes life pretty
crazy. (I could've guessed that one...)

7. How to make pancakes just as yummy and fluffy as my husbands. I still don't do shapes, though. That's his thing.

8. More about the line up on Nickelodeon Jr. than I ever wanted to know... ("Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, we're on our way...")

9. How to be more hospitable. I'm not going to win any awards or anything, but at the start of the year, I prayed God would help make me a better, more cheerful hostess, and he certainly did. (I've done a little backsliding since Connor was born, but that'll get better.)

10. How to manage my author blog, my teen writers blog, and contribute here at Girls, God, and the Good Life.

11. How to say no to things that take away time from the three roles God has given me - wife, mommy, and author.

12. The crazy world of Mad Men. We finished up season 2 last night and will be starting season 3 soonish.

13. The meaning of the word esoteric. My pastor used it 6 times in a sermon on Sunday. After time number 3, I finally had to look it up. (esoteric: adj. Understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest.)

14. That there can be beauty in death. My favorite season, autumn, is a good example of this. Better ones are my dear friend Christy Kirven and my aunt Penny. I lost both ladies this year to cancer, and until the day they died, both of them were wonderful examples of being Christ's hands and feet here on earth.

15. Many knew her already, but I did not. You should totally check out the writings of Siri Mitchell. I adored She Walks in Beauty.

16. And another phenomenon that I knew nothing of until a few months ago, www.ThePioneerWoman.com.

17. The dictionary.com app. I almost always have my phone handy when I'm reading. I've gotten in the habit of looking up words I don't know.

18. To love my husband more fully. Something about having a little boy of my own opened up this whole new dimension of love for Ben.

19. How to make lasagna that doesn't slide when you cut it. (Thank you to my mother-in-law on that one!)

20. My favorite book changed this year. Well, Pride and Prejudice is still my all-time fave, and nothing's ever topped This Lullaby for YA. But I adored Lisa Samson's The Passion of Mary-Margaret. It reigns as my favorite uh... regular book?

21. Both the sting and the reward of disciplining a child.

22. The sheer awesomeness of the library. Somehow I'd forgotten...

23. How to make killer pot roast.

24. The joy of conversing with McKenna. I love babies, and I was sad when she was officially Not a Baby anymore. But we have some of the best conversations. Especially about her favorite baseball player, Zack Greinke.

25. There was a new addition to my "favorite craft books" list. I adore James Scott Bell's The Art of War for Writers.

26. Starbucks's dark cherry mochas over ice. Those java chip frappuccinos aren't too bad either. Mmm...

27. And finally, I'm never going to find a way to organize my time that magically fixes everything. This little nugget of wisdom came from my husband, who continues to startle me with his intelligence. I kept saying to him, "I feel like if I could just organize everything in the right way, that I could stay on top of all the stuff I need to do." And he said, "That's your problem. That you keep expecting to find something to fix it all."

Changed my life. I've become much better about just doing the best I can with the amount of time I have. If God expected me to get everything on my list done, He would've given me more hours of the day.

I enjoyed age 26 quite a bit. Even though I spent half the year saying I was 25, and the last month or two saying I was 27. The memory has apparently started to go. Along with my natural hair color.

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com and www.GoTeenWriters.com.


Friday, October 22, 2010

What does she really need?

Even though it was twenty-one years ago, I still remember what it was like to go to school pregnant. I'd been a cheerleader, on the yearbook staff, an honor roll student--on the outside a good kid. At the time, most of the kids I knew were sleeping with their boyfriend/girlfriends. I know because we'd often talked about it on bus trips to away games. The thing was, I got caught. The proof of what I was doing was evident as my stomach started growing. My friends started acting weird around me. Other kids at school would stare and whisper. Soon my boyfriend had a new girlfriend, which just made everything worse.

Today, things are different. I mentor young moms on a weekly basis. Many of them say they still get the stares, the whispers ... but not in a bad way. A few even said that being pregnant made them popular. They said that people would come up to them and say that they wanted to have a baby, too.

The truth is, neither of these stances helps a teen mom. She doesn't want to be an outcast, and she doesn't need to be the most popular girl in school. What does she really need? A friend. Someone to invite her to church, to ask how she's doing, and to call her up at home after the baby's born and she's feeling distant and alone.

When you're a true friend you don't condemn. When you're a true friend you are realistic about what helps others and what hurts them. Friends are there when the baby is crying. They are there when the young mom feels overwhelmed. Do you have someone you can be a real friend to today?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dressing the Part

Clothes. We probably all give some thought to this subject at least once a day, right? I love clothes, and with Halloween coming, my first thought isn't scarfing up the mini-chocolate bars that the trick-or-treaters leave behind ... uh-uh, it's "Oh boy, I get to dress up!"

This carries over into my writing life, too. Over the years, it's become part of my process to get into the clothes that my main character would wear. For a while, I tried writing Regency historicals, so I went and got the Regency dress pattern from La Mode Bagatelle and made an afternoon dress and an evening gown. You would be astonished at the insight you get into a character from wearing her clothes. That Regency corset made this body do things it had never done before, LOL!

And when I made a Victorian ballgown, suddenly I knew why mothers of that period insisted that a lady's spine should never touch the back of a chair. Um, it can't. In a corset, you can't slouch. And in a bustle, you have to sit on the edge of the seat. So your spine literally can't touch the back of the chair no matter how hard you try. But I have to say, my posture was great. But I understood in those clothes just how confining they are--bending over or going to um, the ladies room, is an effort that takes careful concentration. And girls back then used to play tennis in their corsets! My hat is off to them.

Now I'm moving into Amish fiction under a new name (Adina Senft), so what did I do? Yep, I went on eBay and ordered a set of Amish clothes (who knew you could do that? I love technology). I got a glimmer of the "plain" mindset, which doesn't use buttons. You pin your dress together with straight pins, and pin the apron and cape on. You pin the prayer covering on your hair. Suddenly I have new and interesting details to write into my story--details that other women who are interested in clothes might be interested in learning.

Clothes say a lot about a character. What do yours say about you?

Love,
Shelley

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time to Laugh


There were eight of us in the van: me, my sister Kristy, our kids (aged 4, 8, almost 8, and 19), Mom, and Dad. Despite the huge age range represented we were all laughing ourselves sick over the same DVD—Season 2 of Spongebob Squarepants. Mom and I admitted that we usually found the show annoying. Dad had never seen it before (make that heard it, since he was driving the van). Yet there we sat, riding along, laughing like kindergarteners.

Maybe the family togetherness had us all so loosened up that we would have laughed at anything. But I’m more convinced that the adults in the car just needed a chance to relax and get lost in the silliness of a sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea. Between work, school, and everyday life stresses we started this particular trip with knots of tension that the little guys couldn’t relate to. We laughed it out through one dumb cartoon after another, whispering to each other, “I think I see why kids like this show. It’s so stupid but that’s what makes it hilarious.”

Now when my sons watch reruns of Spongebob I no longer cringe and mutter, “Oh no, not Spongebob. He is so annoying!” Instead it reminds me of that road trip when we rediscovered the power of laughter.

Sometimes we just need to laugh, even if it’s over something we would usually roll our eyes at. Even the Bible teaches that there is a time to laugh (see Ecclesiastes). Proverbs calls laughter good medicine. Laughter loosens our tension and gets our minds off all that is going wrong. It heals our sadness and melts anger.

Do you need to laugh today? Ask God to send a gift of humor your way today, even if it’s something really silly like an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Hated to Play Barbies!



Weird post, I know, but this has been on my mind.

Growing up, I hated to play with Barbie dolls. But all my friends--even my sister-- loved playing Barbies. I never knew what to do with them. What is the point? Get them dressed, undressed, ride them around in a plastic car, and go on pretend dates?

I lost one of almost every pair of Barbie's (or Skipper's) miniature shoes. Coordinating their outfits wasn't fun for me. So, my Barbie had to hobble around with one shoe in mismatched clothes as her friends pranced in style.

Sure, I played along, acting like I was having fun, but on the inside, I cringed.

Here's the thing. I wish way back then I'd have had the courage to say, "No, thanks. I'm not playing Barbies anymore. I'm going to go read my book."

Sometimes it takes years to be able to stand alone. To risk being different.

If you're in a situation that doesn't feel right, pray. Maybe God's calling you to say no--this isn't right for me.

Deut. 31:6 "Be strong and courageous.Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.

Lots of love,
Julie

Saturday, October 16, 2010

go directly to jail, do not pass go




I am going to be put behind bars, although they are promising me gourmet bread and water. But I try not to eat any gluten, so that is not much comfort.



Two weeks ago, I got a phone call. The man calling joyfully informed me that I had been turned in and was going to jail. He was much to cheerful to be serious, so I asked if I didn't get a trial first. He said no. Hmmm? Which one of my friends was behind this? He said he couldn't tell me, but told me when the paddy wagon would come to my house and pick me up. He also told me what my bail had been set out. Finally, I got the underlying message.



I was being put into jail for good. Being good, that is.



And my friends must bail me out. He suggested I raise my bail before I went to jail on November 18th and therefore I would only have the formality of posting the money and getting out.



What is this all for? Muscular Dystrophy. My bail will go toward research and practical aid for MD. That's a good thing. If you want to help me with my bail, go to this site.



So far, I haven't raised much. But I'm finished being shy. It's for a good cause, and hey! I really don't want to spend time in the clinker, even if the clinker is a nice restaurant.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Future Wife Rock

I had to share this with you all, it's written by a tenth grader named Paul:

I believe that the girl of my dreams is worth waiting for.

I am not going to waste my time on hormone crazy teenagers. People argue with me and ask how I know that the right girl is not here in my school. They say that the only way to get to know her is to date her, but that’s not true. You can get to know someone by being friends with them. Besides kids don’t act like themselves around a crush. The guy who one minute will sing Japanese karaoke for his buds will suddenly be way too cool for that when the girl he likes shows up.


Read the rest of his essay HERE

Have you really thought through dating and what God wants you to do?

Sarah, who is married to the most amazing man in the world, but believed during high school and college that I'd never find anyone

Sarah Anne Sumpolec is the author of the YA series, Becoming Beka - My website



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Whine, whine, whine



So, I have to admit. I've been feeling a little bit sorry for myself.

I know, I know. It's dumb. Because let's take a little inventory of things I've prayed for and things God's given me.

4 years ago I prayed for God to take me back to Kansas City, to give me a baby, and have someone buy Me, Just Different.

Fast forward to a year later: I lived in a beautiful house in Kansas City, had a healthy, beautiful baby girl, and sold not only Me, Just Different, but two other books as well.

When we prayed for another baby, we got pregnant with Connor.

I'm in the process of praying for another book contract. And I just know God's going to blow my mind. It's His style.

And yet...

Here's the thing. My life is amazing. But it's very ... home-based, for lack of a better word. Both my "jobs" (writing and Mommy) take place at home. Sometimes my entire morning will be getting the kids ready, going to the grocery store, feeding them lunch, and getting them down for their naps.

My career is to write, to entertain, and yet my days often feel full of nothing but diaper changes, outfit changes, and e-mails. Oh yeah. That's the stuff great page-turners are made of.

Part of me knows this is just a season of life. Connor won't always need to eat every 3 hours. McKenna will someday decide she's too old for diapers. One of these days, I'll get back to having the kinds of adventures I'm dreaming of. Like visiting Jane Austen's place in England. And seeing Lake Geneva. And going back to New England for leaf season (I know, I know. I'm old.)

One of these days I won't just be reading about things, I'll be doing things. And there'll be fewer posts about spit-up and more about ... I don't know. Hang-gliding.

Okay, maybe not. But one can hope.

So here's my question for y'all ... what do you do to stay content?

For me, it's looking at a picture like the one below, and reminding myself they won't be little like this forever:




Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com and www.GoTeenWriters.com.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Finding My Voice

Eh hem . . . la, la, LA, la, la (clears throat) Try that again. Laaaaaa, laaaaaaaa, LAAAAA, laaaaaa, laaa. We used to do that in high school choir, going up and down the scale for voice warm-ups.

High school. Talk about a time when I had lost my voice!

It started in junior high. The chatty, outgoing little girl that I had been got buried under the ugly divorce of my parents, a move to a new state, and a nightmare junior high experience. Yes, that included the typical stuff of trying to figure out who I was, but then my own “best” friends started bullying me. They seemed to love the power they had over me, even threatening to beat up other friends if they talked to me. I wanted to hide and escape, but where do you go when you have to be in class and walk to and from school every day?

I didn't know much about God, so it didn’t cross my mind that I could turn to him for reminders of who I really was or who I was becoming. I had no idea that Someone was there to walk with me through that crushing season.

I now can look back and see he was there, protecting me and beginning to draw me to himself.

Thankfully the friends of junior high went to a different high school, but the whole experience left me so shaken that even after I found new, great friends, I was afraid to speak. I would but words were often carefully measured. I’d cringe and want to hide when I perceived that I’d said anything wrong. With one friend, who I really cared about, I could share my feelings and even be angry. While it sometimes strained our friendship, I think I was thankful I could be myself and she wouldn’t entirely reject me.

One tiny step in finding my voice. God wasn’t going to let it stop there.

(More to come in future posts)

How about you? Have crushing experiences and relationships silenced your voice? Your heart?


http://www.jankern.com/
http://www.courageousmoves.com/