Saturday, January 30, 2010

White As Snow


Today I went to a very unique wedding. Not only was it an outdoor wedding in Virginia on a cold January day- but there was 5 inches of snow on the ground and it continued to snow during the ceremony!

More unique than their winter wonderland wedding, was my friends’ decision to save their first kiss for this special day. In a culture where immorality runs rampant, the mere suggestion that someone would wait for their wedding day to kiss (not to mention other things), seems ridicules.

When the word purity is mentioned in our society, the connotations are stronger of that of a bottled water commercial than what the Bible would define it to be. As young Christian women, God has called us not only to live lives of purity, but also to be examples in a culture that is ever straying from God’s design for love, romance and marriage.

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

Uncertainty

The state of the economy is having a really weird impact on my decisions, goals, and dreams lately. I’m finding it interesting . . . and hard. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. Have you felt it too?

Stepping back and taking a look at it, I notice that a few years ago it seemed easier to pursue my passions, to believe that the ways I most desired to serve and work would . . . just happen. They often did. I prayed and worked hard, so it wasn’t like it came without sweat and dedicated effort.

Now, I seem to be consistently hitting walls. The hard work is still there and definitely the passion, but the effort falls in pieces to the ground. I sweep the pieces into a little pile and scoop them up, try to take in a different perspective. Then I go at it again from a new angle, only to find myself bent once again to the ground gathering the pieces.

I realize I no longer have the easy crutch of ready resources and opportunity. Was I really trusting God then? I think so. Just differently than I must now. This is good though—good for my soul and for my desire for deeper connection to God. Good for stepping into what is next with him, knowing it will not look the same as it has.

I trust him in the uncertainty . . . more than ever before.



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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being Clay


I’m not what you would call an adaptable person.

Like I have this friend, Rachel (pictured above, on the left) who you can plop down anywhere, and she’s just fine. Small town, Kansas? Sure. Denmark, when she doesn’t speak a word of Danish? Bring it on. Rural California? Not a problem. She’s equally comfortable with the elderly, teens, and kids. She does things that I would never in a million years consider doing, like taking a group of girls in the youth group out for a camping trip to teach them wilderness skills. (This is why Rach is a fabulous youth coach, because I’d be like, “Hey, let’s all hang out at my place and read.” I don’t voluntarily put myself in situations where I won't have access to a bathroom.)

I long to be adaptable like Rachel. The girl really is the “clay” the Bible talks about, and she’s willing to take whatever shape she needs to for God to use her in her current circumstances.

I, on the other hand… Well, I’m willing to do what God asks, but only if my coffee pot can come too. And if I’ll still have time to read. And if I can bring my shampoo, because my hair gets really gross without it…

I like to set conditions. Which really sucks, because that’s an easy way to miss out on something great that God has in store. So I’m currently praying that God would make me more adaptable. And it’s scary to not add anything onto that, like, “Make me more adaptable, but, um, could you go easy at first? You know, baby steps?” Because unfortunately God won’t just—poof!—make me a more adaptable person. He’ll do it by stretching me. I’m not a fan of being stretched, but I do like the results.

Anybody else out there getting stretched at the moment?

Stephanie Morrill
www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let’s pray

Camy here, and while trying to figure out what to blog this week, I felt God telling me to pray, so let’s join our prayers together today.

Heavenly Father, thank you for being who you are, for being loving and gracious. Thank you for Jesus, sent to die for our sins. I think that we don’t remember your sacrifice, and I think that we have a hard time even conceiving of how painful it was and the cost of your blood to save us. Thank you for your grace and power and love.

I lift up those who are hurting. I know there’s a young girl at college who’s in pain because her daddy has to undergo chemo, and she’s far away. Please touch her with your presence and comfort, and any others who need you there with them.

There are other girls in pain for other reasons, who are hurt and alone and in despair. Lord, please lift them up and take care of them. Don’t leave them alone. Help them realize that you haven’t forsaken them, but that you love them and have them in your hands.

I pray for girls who need a deeper relationship with you. Help them to know how to seek you and find you. Spur them to read your Word and hear your Spirit speaking to them. Grow them into women of God who will accomplish your will and purposes for them.

Thank you for all you do for us. We love you! Amen.


Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous contemporary romance novel, Single Sashimi, and her romantic suspense, Deadly Intent. She also runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveways!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Puzzled


During the holiday break I found that I had lots of extra time on my hands; while I enjoyed the time off, I wanted to still feel productive—so I decided to put together a 1,000 piece puzzle.

Needless to say I am still working on it! I can’t help but think that I should have attempted a smaller puzzle first. Not only should I have aimed lower, but I should also have resisted the alluring autumn country scene. Why you ask? Because where there are beautiful, colorful trees, there are thousands of undistinguishable leaves!

As I continue to work, I have seen a comparison between my life, and this puzzle I’ve been slaving over. Even though I know full well that God knows the big picture, at times I feel like all the pieces of my life are dumped out on a coffee table. While I feel like I should be able to make some sense out of them, after putting together the obvious perimeter, I can’t seem to find where the rest of the pieces fit.

Do you ever feel like your head is detached from your body and all of your extremities are running in opposite directions? Or like you are trying over and over to cram that friendship, that job, or that guy into a slot where it doesn’t seem to fit….no matter how many times you try to make it! I was suddenly reminded of the scene in the movie Cinderella, (gotta love Disney flashbacks!) where one of the ugly step sisters is attempting to shove her size 20 foot into that Barbie sized glass slipper—it just wasn’t happening!

Although we are probably all guilty of trying to arrange our pieces exactly how we want them, no matter what, the outcome is always the same— incomplete pictures and maimed pieces.

“Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Growing a Conscience

Last night my youngest son greeted me at the door after my writers’ group meeting. But when I went to the kitchen, to have some of the homemade mac & cheese that my oldest had made for dinner, the little guy suddenly burst into tears.

“Nate, what’s wrong?”
“I feel bad.”
“Why?”
His voice crescendoed as he wailed, “Because I put my dinner down the sink.”

It took a minute or two to get the complete scoop from him—that Christian had served him a plate of mac & cheese with mixed frozen veggies but since Nate apparently wasn’t in the mood for that he seized the first opportunity to sneak it down the garbage disposal side of the sink.

“So do you feel bad because you’re hungry now?”
“No.”
“Or because you know that Christian worked hard to make dinner and you threw his hard work down the drain.”
“Yes!”

“Nathan,” I told him as I gave him a hug and he slobbered into my sweater, “I wish you hadn’t done that but I am actually glad that you’re upset. It means you have a conscience.”

After apologizing to his brother, he calmed down only to lose it again. “And I’m also upset that I wasted food.”

I couldn’t help wondering if images of children in Haiti who hadn’t eaten in days made an impression on him. “I have an idea. Instead of beating yourself up, use how you feel right now as a reminder to never to it again.”

Nathan sniffed. “Okay” as I thanked God that, at seven, my son had reached a stage of hyper-sensitivity to right and wrong. I honestly don’t think he would have cared if he’d dumped his dinner six months ago. Unless of course, he got caught and missed out on dessert. But last night he cared about his brother’s feelings, being sneaky, and wasting food. I pray it lasts.

Last night reminded me that, while we don’t want to live in a perpetual guilt trip, a little dose of guilt is good sometimes. Without its’ painful jabs at the heart, how often would we stop to consider how our actions affected others, whether we’d disobeyed or deceived someone, or why it really is wrong to purposely waste a blessing like food?

Think back to the first time you got hit hard with guilt. Maybe it was over something small, like Nathan’s decision to toss the dinner he wasn’t enjoying. Pray that God will keep your heart sensitive to right and wrong, knowing that when you do, you are more likely to be polite, kind, obedient, and filled with a desire to please Him.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Bff's Blog

Back when I was in high school, I met a girl name Robin. We soon became friends. Really good friends. Good friends are great listeners and they always say, "You can do it," when you aren't so sure. They believe in you.

I didn't know our hearts would be knit together for so many years. We both got married right out of high school and started having our babies in 1981. And at almost 50, she's still one of my favorite people in the whole world. She makes me laugh and she can laugh at herself. I love that!

We both love to read and cook. And she's fantastic at blogging. I want to show off her blog. It's full of heart and talent. Robin has always been one who knows all about crafts. Not me. This is her blog and she's teaching us how to make something pretty cool on her site. You might like try this--it's something even I want to try.


http://www.allthingsheartandhome.com/2010/01/12/notebooks-covered-in-pretty-paper/
Happy Sunday night!

Love,
Julie

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This is a test.


When I was younger I watched TV and listened to the radio more than I do now. So, I don't even know if they have these "alerts" anymore. But, back in the day, an annoying sound would blast through the speakers and a voice would announce, "This is a test. This is only a test. If this were a real national emergency, blah, blah, blah."


I've taken to using those phrases, "This is a test. This is only a test." when my live crashes. But I follow it with, "You're life will resume in zero point three (you choose: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years.)"


The point is that we are not in the position to stop life from happening. We do not control circumstances. But we are in the position to dictate our reaction to a trauma. And we are also in control of how long we are to react negatively to a trauma.


A friend dumps you. You grieve.


But you are in charge of how long you react. Truthfully, a second is not likely. But there is absolutely no reason to hold on to the grudge, the feelings, that are born in the trauma.


This is a test. This is only a test. No need to wallow in it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Excerpt - A SOLDIER’S DEVOTION by Cheryl Wyatt

Camy here! I have a treat for you today, an excerpt from the novel A SOLDIER’S DEVOTION by Cheryl Wyatt.

For those of you who might read Love Inspired romance books, you might already know that this is set in the fictional town of Refuge, Illinois, and each book highlights a team member of an Air Force pararescue jumper team stationed there (can we say, yummy men in uniform??? LOL).

Anyway, I’ve been waiting for Cheryl to write this particular book because it’s about Vince, who’s the only non-Christian in the parajumper team. He’s a (yummy) bad boy with a (yummy) motorcycle—I guess I just love bad boy heroes!

For those of you not typical romance readers, you might want to give this book a try—or any of the novels by Cheryl Wyatt. She writes really strong heroines and very spiritual stories, trying to help women strengthen their faith in God.

Check out the excerpt below! I hope you’ll either request the book from your library (maybe through interlibrary loan) or buy it online!


A Soldier's Devotion
by
Cheryl Wyatt

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Vince Reardon was headed to a lifesaving mission. Until a too-pretty lawyer crashed her fancy car into his motorcycle—sidelining him for two weeks. Vince can barely accept Valentina Russo's heartfelt apologies. Ever since his brother was wrongly convicted—and killed in prison—Vince has lost respect for lawyers. But wait—is that Val volunteering at his refuge for underprivileged kids? If Vince isn't careful, this lady of the law might just earn his respect and his heart.

Excerpt of chapter one:

This is the second-worst day of my life.

U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper Vince Reardon lay pressed to wet asphalt. Rain pelted his face.

The woman who'd seconds ago smashed her sizzling-red sedan into his chrome-and-black-lacquered motorcycle hovered in his periphery. Smoky eyes bulged with worry from a trepid face that begged him not to be mad. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry."

"I can't look at you, or I'll erupt." Vince pushed a groan through gritted teeth and tried like mad to distract himself from blowtorch-caliber pain searing through the palms of his hands, left arm and outer left leg. "Saw you on your cell phone seconds before you hit my bike."

Correction. The custom, one-of-a-kind masterpiece on wheels that his late brother hand-built weeks before his death.

Once again the woman murmured soft words, rested a shaky palm on Vince's shoulder. And prayed. He tried not to flinch away from her. Wanted to yell at her to leave him alone. Wanted to scream out in pain. Alone.

He clenched his eyes to shut out the pity on the strained faces of bystanders who'd come to his aid. More specifically, he wanted to shut her out.

But the truth was her presence and her prayers soothed. Besides, it wasn't like he could get away from her.

"Lord, help him be okay. Please don't let anything be broken."

Vince found her face and lashed a hard look at her remorseful one. "I'm not one for religion, lady." He beamed visual warning flares. Tried not to get his gaze snagged by eyes that were heavily lined and radiantly luminous. Or the stylish pixie cut that caused jagged angles of hair to hug prominent cheekbones.

Anything to distract from discomfort.

Other than desert-sand-colored swaths streaking through dark brown hair, giving her a youngish, trendy look, she smacked of "career woman." She wore sleek high-end shoes with some seriously dangerous skyscraper heels and a conservative charcoal business suit which could not camouflage her curves.

He wouldn't be so perturbed if she weren't so glaringly pretty.

French-manicured nails rested once again on his shoulder.

No ring.

And just why would he care, other than to feel scolded for noticing her curviness, if she were married? The fact that her barren finger hitched his eyes a little too long on her hand drew a second frustrated sigh.

He might be down, but he wasn't dead. The gal was stunning.

"You need to get out of the intersection. Least till the cops get here," Vince ground out.

He didn't want both of them to be in danger of getting reamed by oncoming traffic should some other driver pull her gig and forget to pay attention. He brought his hands up to carefully remove his helmet.

"I'm not leaving you," came her soft but firm reply.

She helped him take his helmet off. Turned it over, gasped then set it aside. Her bugged-wide eyes closed and her lips moved in frenzy. Something about thank you.

Against his wishes and his will, she prayed.

That it brought the slightest measure of peace angered him more than anything. He clamped his lips to keep from cursing. Sure, she'd smashed his bike, but he didn't want to disrespect a lady.

Even if she had just destroyed his most prized possession.

And ruined his chance to join his team on the type of mission that came few and far between. An allied pilot shot down and in need of rapid-reaction rescue on hostile soil.

Vince not being at the chopper when it was ready to lift could cost that pilot his life.

Shivers claimed him. Adrenaline OD. Had to be.

Once his team figured out crucial minutes too late that he wasn't coming, they would have to pull his weight plus manage their own.

Way dangerous.

Especially since they all had specific jobs they were trained to do during a rescue. There'd be no time to replace him.

Nothing rapid-reaction about him writhing here in the middle of a rain-driven road, wishing like crazy this irksome brunette hadn't been driving under the influence of distraction.

Water soaked his back, seeping cold to his bones. A rock dug into his skin below his shoulder. He tried to reposition without moving his neck.

Pain streaked across his shoulder blade. Numbness trickled down his arms and tingled fingers on his left hand. A frustrated sound scraped its way up his throat again but he clamped his lips against it. Despite the early-April cold, sweat broke out over his upper lip. He puffed out breaths but the pain didn't relent this time.

He was sure he was fine, but as a military paramedic, he knew enough to be still and quiet just the same. A killer headache was building at the base of his skull and he knew better than to move until someone slapped a C-collar on him.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't see you until too late." Words wobbled from unsteady lips. Hand remaining on his shoulder, she leaned forward, blocking rain from thrashing his face. She continued her prayers.

"You're getting soaked." Crazy lady. Her hair was dripping. Her expensive soft suede suit was probably ruined. She didn't act like she cared. In fact, the deceptively calm body posture he could tell she fought to maintain looked ready to crumble. Like she was nearing her breaking point.

Rain-mingled tears hovering on long lashes threatened to fall. She blinked rapidly. "Help will be here soon."

Who was she trying to convince? Him? Or herself?

And how could her voice be soothing and grating at the same time? No matter about his bones. His main concern was his bike.

"How's my ride?"

Her eyes startled open. "What?"

He clenched his teeth. She was probably some rich chick who didn't understand one stinking mutilated syllable of street lingo. "My chopper. Bike. Motorcycle. Thing with two wheels that goes down the road. How is it?"

That she didn't answer and only scanned the area around them with ever-widening eyes revved his headache through the roof of his skull.

Incensed, he released the pent-up groan.

"I am sooo sorry. The ambulance will be here soon."

The urge to laugh hit him full force from nowhere. "For me or the bike?"

A startled look stole over her face before she averted her gaze. "Both, I think. This was all my fault. I—I'll pay for it."

Again, her words made him want to laugh. "The bike? Or my hospital and ambulance bills?"

"Both. Of course, both." She looked like she could cry.

"The cycle—is it drivable?"

She bit her bottom lip until it turned white, then looked around like Refuge's traumatized mayor after last year's bridge collapse. "Um, I think not. It… It's…pretty smashed."

He tensed and wished she'd get her soft hand off his aching arm.

"How bad?" If this crazy lady broke the only tangible reminder remaining on earth of his late brother…he'd never forgive her. At her blank look, impatience mounted, twisting his shoulders into knots. "How. Bad. Is. It?" He enunciated the words like a phonics teacher with a mouthful of molten lava.

"Um… so-ome of the pieces broke off." Her face blanched the more her eyes scanned their periphery and whatever carnage littered it. "Maybe even… well, all of the little ones."

He didn't doubt that since he'd felt tiny insignificant cosmetic pieces break off on impact. That wasn't his main concern. "How's the frame?"

"B-bent. Definitely, but not horribly. I—at least I don't think so." Her lips rolled inward as if her own words daunted her. Distress mounted in her eyes and tears finally trickled down her cheeks. She blinked furiously. "I—I'm not m-much of a motorcycle person."

No kidding. For an instant, he almost felt sorrier for her than for himself.

Nah.

Her remorse probably only meant she feared he'd sue her.

Didn't matter. She shouldn't concern her pretty self with petty litigation. He'd be the last person to go near any sort of legal office. His family had a thing against lawyers. Far as Vince was concerned, they were the reason his brother…

Sirens whined closer, blared louder, derailing his train of thought, causing the throbbing in his head to expand.

Flashing emergency vehicle taillights reflected off the wet surface, giving eerie red hues to the watery seal-coat layer over asphalt smothered in oil and gasoline. Doors creaked open and slammed shut.

Several sets of black shoes hooded in blue scrub pants sloshed across the lot. Drizzle sprinkled Vince's face as the woman divorced her hand from his shoulder and leaned back, allowing EMTs to access him.

Staying as still as possible, Vince issued himself a mental reprimand for instantly missing her fruity perfume, her lullaby voice, her presence and even her prayers.

Missing her. Just—her.

Anger welled in him that a complete stranger and her connection to the God he loathed brought comfort in this momentary nightmare. He needed to let team leader Joel Montgomery know why he was late. Tell him what was going on without compromising the mission or his teammates' safety.

How to do this? What to say?

He wouldn't be telling the truth—that he'd probably just fractured or dislocated something—that's for sure. But trying to go injured could cause a new set of problems. No way would he be stupid enough to put his brothers in harm's way. Even if it meant he had to lay down his angry pride and let this mission go on without him.

He looked at the woman—the very beautiful woman—who caused all this and felt like growling at her and howling at the moon all at the same time. Absurd. Musta hit his head harder than he thought. Err, his helmet rather.

Speaking of his helmet, Vince remembered how crazy-soft her hands felt as she'd helped him off with it.

"You still got that phone on you?" Vince asked her through clenched teeth.

"Yes. Who can I call for you?" Quaking hands fumbled in the pocket of her power suit. The one that hugged a figure any guy would be nuts not to notice. Even an injured one. He jerked away his gaze like the rip cord on a screaming parachute and ground his teeth. He wanted nothing whatsoever about her to be appealing.

He'd been headed to the drop-zone facility following an emergency page from Joel. But, on impact, his cell phone had bounced across the road and broken into particles.

Frustration surged. He became even more irked that he'd been placed in the position of having to use his assailant's phone for help.

Vince refused to restrain the disapproval from his voice as he recited the number of Refuge's DZ. The guys were probably convening there prior to being flown to their insertion point.

Without him.

Not only had this bad-driving woman risked his life, she'd rendered his team one man short.

Slender fingers punched the keypad. "It's ringing." She held the phone to his ear.

"Yeah, Chance? Lemme talk to Joel." Vince huffed a breath. Ribs sore. Hurt to talk.

She must have sensed it because she moved the phone from his ear to hers. "Who am I talking to?" she asked Vince in a take-charge voice that he would have appreciated any other time.

The last thing he wanted was to feel anything remotely positive toward the enemy—who was, at the moment, namely her. And the terrorists who'd shot down the pilot he couldn't go help save.

His anger hit boiling point again. And he let her know it with a lethal look. Didn't faze or rattle her. Must be one mortar-tough chick.

"Ask for Montgomery. Tell him I'm in a fender bender and won't make the lift."

"Mr. Montgomery?" she said into the phone. "Yes, I'm here with… Excuse me a moment." She covered the mouthpiece and leaned in to Vince. "What's your name?"

"Reardon."

"I'm here with… Reardon. I—he's been in a substantial accident. On his bike, yes." She swallowed. Hard. Okay, maybe not so tough.

Vince scowled at her for giving TMI but she ignored him just like she'd disobeyed the traffic signal that caused this wreck.

"Yes, he's alert and coherent, but I think it hurts him to talk. The ambulance is on its way. Yes. Thank you. And I'm very sorry. Well, because I'm the one who caused the wreck." Her lips trembled at the words and no doubt Joel was offering soothing words to her. Traitor.

Connor Stallings, a Refuge police officer, finished taking statements from witnesses and approached. He dipped his head toward the phone. "Is that Montgomery?"

"Yes."

"Let me talk with him." Stallings took the cell she handed him then he stepped out of Vince's earshot.

Another raging hole burned through Vince. He hated to be coddled and babied. Most of all pitied. And Stallings' face had been full of it when he'd initially rushed over to Vince upon arriving on the accident scene.

After talking with Vince's leader and saying who knows what that could further worry them needlessly, Stallings knelt beside him. Compassionate eyes rested on Vince, which ticked him off even more. Anger surged like his headache. Did everyone have to feel sorry for him?

Vince clenched his jaw at the unwanted attention. He didn't want anyone to see him weak or broken. He vehemently ignored the rubberneckers in cars and concerned bystanders in the periphery and focused on Officer Stallings.

"I guess I don't have to ask how you're doing, Sergeant Reardon."

Vince eyed one of the few men he'd met who matched his six-foot-six stature and who sometimes skydived at Refuge Drop Zone. "I've been better." He slashed a sharp look at the woman.

Although he was scraped up and in mind-blasting pain, his sense of pride and dignity were wounded above all.

Stallings' blue-silver gaze cooled as it rested on the woman. "Were you the other driver?"

"Y-yes. I was at fault." Her lips trembled.

Vince looked away, not wanting to soften toward her.

"That your car?" Stallings jotted notes.

She nodded.

"Name?"

"Val… Valentina Russo." She spelled it out in breathless syllables. Something inside Vince tried to bend in mercy.

Until he conjured images of his brother's face as he'd presented the bike to Vince on a prison-visitation weekend. The one prior to the riot that had taken his life. To make matters worse, his brother had been cleared posthumously of charges incurred by a six-man jury trial tainted by a money-hungry, truth-botching lawyer who cared more about retainer fees than ratting out false informants.

Vince hadn't been able to free his brother or save his life, but he was determined to clear his brother's name. Just as determined as his brother had been to work toward good behavior that had allowed him to do supervised shop work in order to finish the bike he'd started for Vince.

The very bike this senseless driver had just smashed to smithereens in a preventable accident.

Stallings scribbled on his clipboard then eyed the woman. "Where were you headed in such a hurry?"

"I was on my way to the courthouse near the square."

"For?"

"Court. I'm an attorney."

How could a horrid day have gotten worse?

Val brushed damp hair from her eyes and drew calming breaths as paramedics lifted the man she'd injured into the waiting ambulance. "I h-hope he's going to be okay," she murmured. And poor Aunt Elsie!

Val glanced at her watch then at her silent phone. Why hadn't the ER doctor called back with word on Elsie's condition?

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Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous contemporary romance novel, Single Sashimi, and her romantic suspense, Deadly Intent. She also runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveways!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No, it's mine!



Stephanie speaking. (Is that too close to “Camy here!”? I just don't want everyone to have to scroll to the end of the post to figure out who's doing all this yammering.)

So, we’re just about two weeks into the New Year, and I’m feeling pretty good about how I’m doing with the goals I set. (Which kinda makes me think I didn’t set high enough ones.) I had a slew of boring career goals that I won’t bore you with, but my spiritual goals were to read my Bible more consistently (five days a week, I decided) and to be more hospitable.

That second one is tricky, because to your face I can be the most accommodating hostess in the world. I’ll make you a nice dinner, offer coffee, and I’ll genuinely enjoy our time together and feel glad that you came over. Afterward, I’ll happily clean up and talk with my husband about what a great time we all had.

The area I need work on is the before. I normally get to use my two-year-old’s nap time for writing, and heaven forbid anything come between me and my writing. As I wipe down the bathroom or dice veggies for dinner, I grumble to myself about not being able to do what I want to do. And once, when I was grumbling to God about “my time being taken away,” I heard Him say gently (but firmly), “It’s not your time; it’s my time.”

Oh.

I’m a very controlling person. In some ways this has benefited me. I have the discipline to work largely by myself, and to work from home. Our house stays pretty organized. Trips to the grocery store are brief because I have a list.

In other ways, namely when I’m trying to control things I don’t need to be controlling, this can really bite me in the butt. So this year I’m working on hospitality, but I’m really working on giving “my time” back to God. I’m asking him more how he would like to me to spend it. And sometimes I’m saying to him, “Are you crazy? Do you understand the limitations I’m working with here? There’s no way I can get all that done!” And He says something like, “Girl, I got it under control.”

Yes, He does.

Hope you all are having a great start to your year!

Stephanie
www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

Presence


No, that title isn't a typo. True, if I'd posted this before Christmas, it might be titled "Presents," but we're already eleven days into 2010 territory. By this point, some of us may have already attempted and given up on the usual resolutions. Eat less junk food. Exercise more. That sort of thing.

If you set measurable goals for the new year, I hope you're coming along well. My goal this year can't be judged by a bathroom scale or how many trips I make through a fast-food drive-through window. My goal is to practice presence.

Do you ever catch yourself thinking about anything and everything except the person who's talking to you? Your friend calls on the phone to tell you about a fight she had with her mom, but you're still mostly focused on the computer game she interrupted. Or the preacher is in the middle of his sermon, and you're thinking about the new guy in your algebra class. Does that happen to you? Yeah. Me, too.

Of course, at this point in my life I don't think about the new guy in algebra class, but I do get distracted. My mind wanders far from wherever I am and whoever I'm with, and I realize later that I wasted an opportunity.

So, I'm making it my goal to practice presence. To consider interruptions or annoyances or needy people seeking attention as part of God's design on my day. I can't say I've accomplished it yet, but I'm consciously and prayerfully trying. I don't want to come to the end of my life and discover that I spent most of it wishing I were somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else. This is the only life I have, and I want to live it fully and with gusto, building into the relationships I have and pouring myself into the work I've been given. Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day.

What about you? Any goals to share? You have my undivided attention.

Love, Jeanne

Saturday, January 09, 2010

From Tentative to Courageous

I'm pretty bold . . . so I thought. And then God began to reveal areas where instead I am tentative or hesitant, where I might have some hidden fear.

Even something as simple as saying what is important and true and on my heart--with confidence and conviction . . .



. . . with courage.



Courage is my theme word for this year. I plan to be more aware and watching for how God works that in me in the coming months. I laugh at myself when my first thought is, "That could be scary." Okay . . . courage, Jan.

God told his people in several contexts, "Be strong and courageous," and each time that was accompanied with a promise that he would be with them. (Deut. 31:6; Joshua 1:6-9, 10:25; 2 Ch. 32:7)

So courage as my theme word for the year will also mean bumping up my awareness of all the ways God is with me.

How about you? Do you have a sort of theme going on, a new way to think or be that God is calling you to?

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

Friday, January 08, 2010

Secret Sharer ...


I hated the idea of telling anyone my secret, and now I’d have to tell my kids about what I’d done. I didn’t want them to know I started dating when I was thirteen or that I faced my first pregnancy at fifteen. I didn’t want them to know I’d had an abortion, and then found myself pregnant again at seventeen. I especially didn’t want Cory to know his biological father had wanted me to get an abortion or that he dumped me before Cory was born.

I worried that if my kids knew all the horrible stuff I’d done, they’d think they could do the same. Even more, I worried that they’d look at me differently. I’d be devalued in their eyes. They wouldn’t respect me.

God was squeezing me, molding me into a woman willing to put her life and her kids into His hands. But I wished it wasn’t so painful. Instead of them using my mistakes as an excuse for their own sins, the opposite happened. They witnessed my pain, regret, and struggle, and because of that, they developed high standards for themselves. They made positive decisions for their lives, in part because I was truthful about negative ones I made. And the things I wanted to hide forever are the things that showed them that I’m human, that God is big, and that there is nothing we could ever do to separate ourselves from His love.

It’s hard not to pretend we are better than we are. We all want to look good—to ourselves and to others. We want to hide our imperfections. I wanted to hide my mistakes and sins—hide them all. But in the end what my kids needed from me was the truth. The truth of who I was and who I became because of Christ. They needed the truth of how wrong we can all go when left to our own devices. And where God can take us when we depend completely on Him.

Are you carrying your own secrets or have you been able to share them?

Excerpt © Tricia Goyer, Blue Like Play Dough

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Patience?

Recently I found myself in a frustrating season of waiting. My son was struggling over a decision that would affect the entire family and I didn’t want to be left hanging. While I claimed to be leaving it between him and God I continued to lay on the pressure for him to “do the right thing.” Finally God allowed me to see how important it was for my son to learn to make choices based on His leading, not whether or not he would upset people. After all, he is an adult who has a deep desire to please God. Some day he might have to choose between devotion to Christ and devotion to family and friends. It was time to let the Spirit guide him and trust him to listen to God.

In the end he made the choice that we’d all been praying for. The answer seemed to come at the last minute but it came. Immediately I recognized the benefits of getting to this moment of praise because God worked in my son’s heart, not because I nagged him into submission. We all enjoyed the results ten times more. I couldn’t help wishing that I’d backed off sooner. But at least I backed off. Of course this provided a humbling lesson in patience. While my son prayed, searched his Bible for answers, and refused to do what I thought was right as long as he had a reason to believe that God said otherwise, I (without meaning to of course) made life somewhat miserable for him, and yes, for myself. Hopefully I’ll do things differently next time. And I’m sure there will be a next time. Looking back, I did do some things that helped:
• I shared our struggle with Christian friends and asked them to pray.
• I admitted to a few that I wasn’t handling the problem well and needed prayer for my attitude and reactions.
• I asked God to help me be content no matter what my son decided. Even if I wasn’t happy, I needed to respect his choice and enjoy life anyway, trusting that he was doing what he felt led by God to do.

Next time I hope I will also:
• Refuse to let my emotions rule.
• Refuse to give in to frustration (which usually leads to lashing out in anger).
• Trust God’s timing.
• Spend more time praying for a gentle spirit as I wait and wisdom for how to handle the situation in a godly way.
• Encourage the one on the other side of the argument (in this case, my son) to seek God, assuring him of my love and trust.

Are you in a similar situation, waiting on someone else’s decision? Maybe you can learn from my experience—including the things I wish I’d done differently.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Yearly Check-up



This time last year to the day, January 3, 2009, I blogged right here on this very site about my goals. I felt a bit nervous putting them out there. But going public must have held me accountable. Of course, I didn't get an A+ with each one, but I saw consistency.

Here they are again from last year below:


Writing Goals

1. Continue meeting with face-to-face fiction editing group twice a month.
2. Read and edit the entire novel I printed and take two days to do it.
3. Get novel proposal to its best, let it go, and stop obsessing. Try to get it out by Jan 15.
4. Develop plot line for next novel.
5. Ask and believe that God’s Spirit will lead me to the right stories/articles.
6. Be watching for a story for the Guideposts spring workshop.
7. Trust God. Trust God. Trust God. In everything.


Personal Goals

1. Become more aware of negative thinking and consciously fight it.
2. Expect good outcomes. Believe the best.
3. Guard my tongue being careful of my words.
4. Go to the Y four times weekly.
5. Make first thing in the morning quiet time a priority. Before computer time.
6. Pray for my husband daily.
7. Recognize joy in the little things every day.

Here's how I did.

Writing Goals

1. Yes, I did this. :-)
2. Yes, I did this. :-)
3. Yes, I did this. I also found an agent in September!!
4. Yes, I did this. :-)
5. Yes, I did this. :-)
6. Yes, I attended the Guideposts spring workshop. And the fall one too. :-)
7. Hmmm. Trust God in everything. :-( Not every single day in everything.

Personal Goals

1. I'm more aware of negative thinking, but I've messed up some in this area.
2. I'm getting better. Not perfect on this one.
3. At least now, I'm aware after I say something I shouldn't have....
4. No, I didn't make it to the Y four times every week.
5. No, I didn't always have my quiet time before anything else. Some days, it didn't happen at all.
6. Most days, I prayed for my husband, but not every single day.
7. I trusted more this past year but I didn't have total trust.

But you know what? It's okay. I used to think I had to be perfect to be loved by God, but that's soooo not true. Today at church a scripture jumped out at me from John 1. Part of it said these words ....grace upon grace. And that's the beauty of it. God's grace covers us. It's more than enough. Thank you, Lord. Your Grace covers all my slip-ups.

Love,
Julie

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Time passing


I am always amazed that the year is gone. Wasn't it just yesterday, or may a whole month ago, that I made that New Year's Resolution?

It couldn't have been 12 months.

Time is one of the things we spend that can never be replenished. If you waste an hour playing computer games (my downfall is Mahjong), you can never recapture those minutes. If you buy a fancy dress, wash it, and realize it was supposed to be dry cleaned, you've ruined the dress and lost your investment. But I can earn more money, and I can buy another dress.

My resolution this year is to only spend the time alotted to me in positive ways. An hour of a game isn't lethal, but choosing the game over working on relationships with friends, family, and God . . .well that is detrimental to my overall health. So I'm going to be aware and make good choices. I'm going to lasso time and not let it get away from me.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Dearest Lord,
I pray for each person here that this new year would hold new and beautiful gifts from you. That you would draw each one of us closer to your heart. That we would be quick to hear your voice and eager to follow the guidance that you give. Help us to lay aside anything that would hinder us from drawing ever closer to your heart. Help us forgive. Help us love. Help us become more like you.

Thank you Lord, that you love us completely. Let us trust you with our whole hearts.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the Lord."
(Jer. 29: 11-14a)

He listens to us. He gives us a future. He gives us hope. And he wants us to find him.
Thank you Lord.

Happy New Year


Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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