Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trend Talk – 3 Topics to Talk About

I don’t usually have time to watch much TV, but at time I'll have it on in the background just in case some topic of interest grabs my attention.

Yesterday that happened as three afternoon talk shows tackled three different teen or family topics. Oprah had Life Organization Expert (love that title), Peter Walsh, help a family unplug from technology. Great ending to that story! Dr. Phil talked about teens who engage in risky, and even life-threatening, stunts and how their online videos are encouraging the trend. And The Doctors dedicated their entire hour to the topic of teen sex.

I'm not necessarily advocating these shows or their conclusions. Especially the show on teen sex tended toward the popular approach of teen sex is okay as long as it's safe (I don't agree), but it still included current trends and perspectives you'll be hearing about if you haven't already. That was true for all three shows.


Each also offered much for us to dialogue about, especially bringing it into the context of living out the life Jesus calls us to and why that's vital and amazing. As a warning--a good one--knowing what the Bible says will hugely impact your conclusions about these trends!

Take a look at show summaries or videos and get the dialogue going. Look at Peter Walsh's family challenge and consider what great things might happen if your family tried uplugging for a week. Talk through the issues as families or as youth groups. Take a look at your own life and choices and ask God to help you design goals to live stronger, freer lives. Be informed so you know how to respond to questions and pressures of friends.


Show information:


Oprah: "A Family Stripped Down - Peter Walsh Moves In"








Dr. Phil: "Extreme Teen Dangers"








The Doctors: "The Truth About Sex" - show synopsis






And if you're looking for more resources to get the dialogue going, the Live Free books offer true stories of those who have struggled and then found freedom and hope.

Live Free Journey--A Small Group Study

Seduced by Sex, Saved by Love--A Journey Out of False Intimacy

Scars That Wound, Scars That Heal--A Journey Out of Self-Injury

Eyes Online, Eyes On Life--A Journey Out of Internet Addictions


Have a great summer full of great talks!

Jan

http://www.jankern.com/

http://www.choose2livefree.com/

Friday, May 28, 2010

Marrying Right


Simply put, my husband is the most amazing man I've ever known.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is our 6-year anniversary, and it's left me contemplating how important it is to marry right.
Ben and I met on a church retreat during the first week of high school. While we've had our fair share of problems - including a breakup that lasted our entire junior year - for the last 13 years we've been there for each other. Sometimes Ben was there for me when I didn't even deserve it.
This is likely why all my books have a strong romance thread, because that was my high school experience. We were engaged at 17, married at 20, and pregnant with our daughter at 23. The marriage and the pregnancy didn't seem to bother anybody, but the "engaged at 17" part freaked out a number of people.
After six years of happy, healthy marriage, strangers are always like, "Oh, that's so romantic to have gotten engaged so young!" At the time, however, hardly anybody viewed it that way.
Here are 3 reasons why I think Ben and I work:
I'm able to be more myself with him than with anybody else.
The guy totally gets me. He knows what I need, what drives me crazy, what will make me laugh. He knows my weaknesses and flaws, but never uses them against me. And all that adds up to me being able to relax around him 100% of the time. I'm not exactly sure when that happened, but boy am I glad it did.
We value the same things
My marriage would be riddled with problems if Ben and I didn't both believe in God. And I don't mean just believing that there is a god, but believing He cares for us and desires a relationship with every single person on the planet. I've heard non-believers talk about how stupid it is when Christians won't date non-Christians. Ben and I have never been a model couple as far as praying or studying the Bible together goes, but I can't imagine the kind of strain it would put on our marriage if I said to Ben, "I feel like God is leading me to do such-and-such," and he gave me a look like I had two heads. Rather than his normal response, which is, "Then let's do it."
We have grace for each other
We're human. And when one of us is having a particularly "human" kind of day, the other typically responds with an attitude of, "What can I do to help?" Sometimes we have simultaneous bad days. That's no fun. But we somehow have arrived at a place where we realize that it's not personal. By which I mean, I don't squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube to make Ben upset. It just happens. And when he hangs up towels crooked and unfolded, it's not because he's trying to infuriate me. It's because he forgets sometimes.
I don't have any great formulas for knowing if your boyfriend is "the guy" (Cosmo magazine probably does...) but I know that it's worth it to wait for the relationship God intended for you. And that there's no "right" time for that guy to come along. People told Ben and I that we were too young. And people had given up hope on my Uncle, who was in his 50s when he married for the first time. But God has a different perspective on relationships and time than we do. Trust Him.
Stephanie Morrill

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Running

Camy here, and I am so excited about running!

No, I do not need a psych eval (although my husband would probably disagree just on general principle).

I am SO totally not athletic. I never have been. P.E. in school was pure hell because I have flat feet and back then, I hadn’t even heard of orthotic inserts or taping my feet. Running for any longer than 30 seconds caused excruciating pain all down the bottom of my feet.

Then I discovered orthotics and chiropractors. Wonderful things. Suddenly I was able to play volleyball. But I still didn’t like running much.

Then I tore my ACL. Twice. Yeah, not going through that again. I quit volleyball. (The whole ACL thing in Sushi for One? Yup, that was based on real life, baby!)

Anyway, to keep my butt from eclipsing the state of Alaska, I started running. It was also the only sport that put relatively little stress on my ACL since the motion was only forward, not side to side.

I hated it. I admit it. My lungs felt like they were going to heave out of my chest. Followed by the mush that my brains had become. And my heart had already deflated and was lying in a despairing heap around my diaphragm.

But then I discovered the Couch to 5K running program. It was kind of fun in a weird way. I think I just needed the structure of the schedule and the training program. I started to like running. I even entertained distant pink-colored dreams of running a marathon one day.

Okay, confession, I really wanted to run the Honolulu marathon and get all my friends to come to Hawaii to watch me. Vacaaaaaytion!

So I finished the C25K, but once I finished the training program, I got bored and only ran occasionally. Plus I was stupid—did I know anything about running? No. So attempts to run faster or longer didn’t really pan out since I didn’t know what I was doing.

But NOW the mojo is back! I discovered the Jeff Galloway run/walk method!

This is WAY cool. Basically you do a ratio of run/walk for the entire length of the run, including the very beginning before fatigue has had a chance to set in. You end up running faster than you normally do if you run the entire way, and your time ends up being better than if you had run the entire way, too. People have actually qualified for the Boston Marathon using this method.

PLUS it helps stave off injury. Hellloooooo, twice-torn-ACL girl is all over this!

There’s a SparkPeople article explaining it a bit here. I ordered Jeff Galloway’s book, but it doesn’t arrive until next week. :(

So in the meantime, I tried it on my run this week. And OH MY GOODNESS I FELT SO GOOD! I did a 2:1 running minutes:walking minutes ratio and did 3 miles no problemo.

So now can you see why I’m so excited? I might actually be able to exercise without feeling like my feet are going to fall off and my heart is going to explode. I might even be able to reach my pink-colored dream of running a marathon!

I heard there’s a marathon in Disneyworld in January …

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, May 19, 2010

A Time to Plant


My son and I finally got to start a process that we look forward to each year: planting our vegetable and herb garden. I wouldn’t call myself an expert gardener and my tomatoes certainly wouldn’t win any awards. I just enjoy the fun of digging in the dirt, watching plants grow, and finally eating those yummy homegrown cucumbers and salsa made from our own fresh peppers. As my youngest waits for the day when he can finally yank a carrot out of the soil we enjoy snipping basil and parsley for spaghetti sauce and mint for tea. It gives my boys and me something to care for, look forward to, and show off to Dad when he gets home.

Are you looking for a new challenge? Try planting a small garden. Start with some herbs, chilies, or squash. Here are some tips that I’ve learned from:

Start with something easy. Get a few small herb plants from the grocery store to grow in pots, a cherry tomato plant, or some carrot seeds. Beginning with a simple, low-maintenance project will cut frustration and give you confidence as you learn.

Choose something that you enjoy eating or using. It doesn’t make much sense to plant zucchini if you can’t stand squash. But what about cucumbers? If you love cook, plant some basil and chives; if you like salsa, plant some jalapeño or a sweet banana pepper.

Find out what grows well in your area. I live in Northern Nevada where we basically go from cold winter to dry summer with about two weeks of spring in between. Garden departments are full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumber seeds, and herbs but rarely do I hear a friend talk about growing watermelon. Skip the disappointment of trying something that sounds delicious but can’t tolerate your local soil or whether. Here’s a hint if you aren’t sure what to try: If Wal-Mart or Home Depot sells the potted version, it’ll survive. With seeds, on the other hand, you might have to do some research.

Be patient. Chances are that you’ll plant in May but have to wait until late summer to show off your prize radishes. Resist the temptation to pull onions up too soon or clip peppers when they’re an inch long. Waiting for ripe results will be worth the wait!

Take care of your babies. Remember to water, pull weeds, and follow instructions on steps like thinning seedlings (you usually only need to worry about this if you start with seeds)

Enjoy the results. Once veggies ripen, pluck them off and share them with your family. Savor the difference of eating a tomoto from your own backyard vs. one from the produce department.

Look for God in your garden. Let the planting, growing, and harvesting process double as quiet time. What spiritual gems can you gain from watching a few seeds mature into a push loaded with crispy cucumbers? What can pulling weeds remind you of? Ask God to speak to your heart as you enjoy a tiny piece of the creation process.
Are you ready to start? If you were going to plant something today, what would it be?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Love this!!



Okay, I've loved Amy Grant for a long time. So do my twenty-something daughters. I keep listening to this song over and over. It takes me back and also gives me hope for the future.

Love to you all.
Julie

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Traveling


I had a sudden urge to visit my son and his wife in Indiana. My daughter and I threw things in suitcases, loaded up the car, and off I went.

I wanted to go north and east to get from Colorado to Indiana. North meant going through Denver, and honestly, that is not fun. So I picked a highway going east and sped merrily through lovely green fields of the CO plains. After a while, I found an interesting road that went north and made the turn. It angled off nicely to go northeast.

Now lest you think I am a total dingbat, I do have a GPS on my blackberry, so I wasn't totally without direction. But this trip is not about destination or best roads or best time. This is a trip of relaxation and appreciation.

I saw a pheasant run across the road in Kansas. I don't think I've ever seen a live pheasant before.
I saw horses running in a pasture.
I saw a barn well on its way to collapse and a bright shiny new red barn.

I met interesting and lovely people everywhere I stopped. I had to stop often to accomodate the aches and pains of being an old lady. I handed out bookmarks whenever I could and learned that across America there really are people who still read books .

I made one wrong turn in Missouri and ended up going south. I soon realized the afternoon sun was on my right arm and should be on my left. I made a u-turn and some miles later spotted a highway patrol man parked ahead. I parked in front of him and got some advice on how to get to a road going east. Another nice person conveniently sitting right where I needed him.

Long ago, when I was teaching Math in junior high. (It was an accident. I don't usually do well with math.), I had a student who would get very uptight if his steps in solving a geometry problem or an algebra problem did not mirror exactly what was in the answer key. I remember telling him that he used the same steps but in a slightly different order. I couldn't get through to him until I mentioned driving to the small town fifteen miles down the highway from our small town.

To drive to Del Norte, you could go on the highway, the back road, or the roundabout way that took you 30 miles out of theway. Each drive would get you to Del Norte. It got to be an expression we used. "There's more than one way to get to Del Norte."

In many of life's situations there is more than one way to reach your destination. If you want to be a doctor, there are varied plans for achieving your goal. If you want to play the piano, there is more than one way to acquire the expertise. (Sorry, all of them involve hours of practice.)

God sets a desire in your heart, but He doesn't dictate the road you must take. He reveals plans and allows you to choose your route. He is such a good Father that He makes room for varied experiences, knowing that we will learn more, enjoy more, value more the journey we follow if allowed to make choices. Yes, we may may go south by accident, but He will give signs that we are on the wrong track and provide counsel to get back in line with our goal.

He is great. He is the one who created more than one way to get to Del Norte.

Have a happy journey on this road called life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Potty or candy?


My 2-year-old, McKenna (pictured above), is not only a constant source of entertainment and joy, she's also a vessel God uses for teaching me.


We're working on potty training at the moment. When she goes, we typically reward her with a piece of candy. (Like a single jelly bean, an M&M, that kind of thing.) A week or two ago, McKenna made a very important discovery - if she was in bed at night and called out that she needed to go potty, I would come and get her.


The night she figured this out, I took McKenna to her bathroom and sat her up on the potty. She was bubbly and chatty, saying all kinds of cute things about books we'd read that day and items she could see around the bathroom. After a minute or so of all-talking-no-peeing, I said, "McKenna, are you all done?" She shook her head. "No. Still going potty." Then she launched into another couple minutes of chatter. I finally said, "Okay, McKenna. Good job trying, but I don't think you need to go. Let's get down." She very emphatically said, "No. Still going." I sighed. "You have one more minute."


A minute later, when she still hadn't gone, I pulled her off the toilet. She instantly began to wail, "But I need to go potty!" I explained in the calmest voice possible that she'd tried to go, that I was very proud of her, and we could try again in the morning. "But I need to go potty!" she yelled again. With a little less patience, I said, "Then you can go in your diaper." She began to sob, "No! I need to go on the potty!"


I finally got her calmed down and back in bed, only to have her emerge from her room about five minutes later. I met her in the hallway, my patience pretty much gone. "McKenna," I said. "You need to go back to bed."


She shook her head and pointed at the bathroom. "I need to go potty."


"No - you need to go to bed. Go in your diaper."


McKenna finally snapped. She threw back her head and bellowed, "But I need CANDY."


It occurred to me, once I'd finally gotten McKenna settled and asleep, that I'm often not so different in my conversations with God. James 4:2-3 says, "You want something but don't get it...You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."



My daughter was obviously not motivated by a need to go to the bathroom. She was motivated by wanting out of bed and sugar.


Sometimes when I ask God to bless my writing, to increase my readers, I'm asking because writing is something I do for Him. I want Him to be glorified.
On other days, it's because I'm a fan of royalty checks and nice e-mails from my readers. It's because I'm full of pride and don't want to be seen as a failure. It's because I desire success for me.


While I don't like hearing "no" from God, it's what I need from Him at times. Just like McKenna didn't need to keep taking trips to the bathroom, she needed to go to sleep and get her rest. How awesome to know we're disciplined by a Perfect Parent, one who knows our needs and motivations even when we can't recognize them ourselves.
Stephanie Morrill
www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Loving Well


Right now you can listen to MercyMe’s newly released album, The Generous Mr. Lovewell, in full length album stream on Tangle. Though I don’t claim to be a devoted MercyMe fan, I really liked the lyrics for many of the songs and the album’s theme, loving others well.

One song is called Beautiful, and part way through the album you hear:

You are treasured
You are sacred
You are His
You’re beautiful

As I listened, I felt prompted to ask who in my life needs to hear those words. I thought of the relationships I have and who God has brought into my life to love me, but also for me to love.

To love well.

My family, my husband, my children—definitely. But also others. Children and teens God brings across my path. Elderly friends. Lonely friends. Strangers.

Do those around me know they are treasured?

For those who seem convinced they are worthless, do I show them Christ who makes us new, who makes us beautiful?

Do I love well?

I want to be more aware of that this week, which means more aware of each person. I want to look into their eyes with compassion and honesty, and ask that God help me know how I can communicate that they are important to me, and especially to Him.

I want to see where I get in the way--with my busyness, weariness, or self-focus. To see where I can instead ask, Do I love well?

I have a feeling it won't be an easy week as I see where I mess up in this business of loving well, but while trying I can be sure that God will be whispering,

You are treasured
You are Mine
You're beautiful

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Journey back from suicide!

I am so excited to announce that Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After A Fatal Choice. This is the story of my friend Kristen Anderson. Life Inspite Of Me

After her fatal choice… extraordinary hope.

Kristen Anderson thought she had the picture perfect life until strokes of gray dimmed her outlook on life. Once a happy child, Kristen’s world darkened after three friends and her grandmother died within two years. Still reeling from these losses, she was raped by a friend she thought she could trust. She soon spiraled into a depression that didn't seem to have a bottom.

One January night, the seventeen-year-old made a decision: She no longer wanted to deal with the emotional pain that smothered her. She lay down on a set of cold railroad tracks and waited—for a freight train to send her to heaven…and peace.

Amazingly, Kristen survived her suicide attempt… but the 33 freight cars that ran over her severed her legs. Now she not only had to deal with depression; she also had to face the physical pain and life without legs.

But Kristen's story didn't end there. After her darkest days Kristen discovered a real purpose for living. Now, in her compelling book Life, In Spite of Me, Kristen shares her journey from despair to hope.

Includes letters from Kristen that share messages she wishes someone would have told her—when she was depressed and struggling with loss, shame from sexual abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Watch the video trailer here!

The blog tour will begin May 17th - check back for schedule and go here between the 17th and 31st for a chance to win a copy of this amazing book!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Making it up as we go



I was thinking recently about friendship and writing and making stuff up. Then I got to thinking about friendship and sewing and making stuff. Why? Because somehow I got lucky enough to have friends who are talented in several different ways (what do their brains look like, I wonder?).

Take Camy Tang, for instance. There we are, hanging out in her living room talking about MaryLu Tyndall's amazing covers for her new series and I'm going, "MaryLu, if that was my cover I would totally make that dress to go to booksignings in." And she says, "Well, you could make the dress for me anyway." And I laugh and she laughs and I say something about needing gloves to go with my Regency dresses, and Camy says, "Opera gloves? I could crochet you some of those."

:: goggle ::

Have you seen some of the things Camy has made? She's very talented ... but opera gloves? Full length? With pearl buttons? Whoa. Even the thought of making fingers in a glove makes my brain fail, since I can't even crochet a potholder.

So I said, "If you make those gloves, I'll make you a handbag out of your grandma's silk." So I did--and she loves it! What are friends for if not to make stuff up for each other?

Shelley

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Catch and Release


I’m reading a great book by Lynn Vincent, titled The Same Kind of Different as Me, a true story about the relationship between a homeless man and a wealthy art dealer. The other night I paused over a scene where Denver, the homeless man, responds to art dealer Ron’s desire for friendship.

Denver, who grew up in extreme poverty, tells Ron about a strange method of fishing that he heard about called catch and release. Instead of catching fish for food, as he has always done, some fish for the sheer fun of it, reeling in large fish only to release them back into the water.

This sport clearly disturbs Denver. He tells Ron (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you want a friend that you can play catch and release with then I’m not interested in being your friend.” As Ron is recovering from the shock Denver adds, “But if you’re looking for a real friend then I’ll be one forever.”

As I reread the scene I couldn’t help thinking about the times when it seemed like a friend caught me only to toss me back into the stream. On the other hand, I’m sure there are times when others have felt released by me. I moved on to the next chapter, in complete agreement with Denver—that I don’t have much interest in catch-and-release friendships. I don’t want to be the one used for fun only to be thrown back wounded and I definitely don’t want to leave another soul feeling hooked and tossed.

Of course I know that God brings friends in and out of our lives. It’s rare to have a friend for life. And if we kept every friend for life we’d never have time to deepen any of those relationships, let alone work, study, or make our beds. So what’s the difference between a friendship that God phases in and out, and a catch-and-release friendship? How can we tell if we’re playing catch and release? To be perfectly blunt, I think we know when a friendship is fading naturally or if one friend is tossing the other. Face it, we know when we’re being dumped AND when we’re doing the dumping.

Sadly, we can’t prevent others from hurting us. We can, however, work on our end of the problem.

We can do this by:

Taking friendships slowly, giving them time to grow . . . or not grow

Resisting the temptation to form friendships based on need, pity, or what a person can do for us

Discussing hurts or disagreements right away instead of avoiding a person’s calls and letting frustration fester

Knowing when to let a hurt or disagreement go

Having fun together instead of constantly unloading on each other (or worse yet, one friend constantly unloading on the other)

Forming relationships with people that you honestly enjoy being around

Learning to recognize when someone might be using us

Praying for our friends

Learning from past hurts

Ask God to heal any wounds inflicted by catch-and-release friendships—both those inflicted on you and hurts you’ve inflicted on others. What have you learned from painful games of catch and release?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Change


How many of us love change? Not me.

Almost two and a half years ago, I found out I have celiac disease--meaning I can't eat any wheat or gluten. No sandwiches with regular bread. No pizza (unless I go across town to Z Pizza or make it with gluten-free crust). No donuts (unless I buy frozen gluten free). I have to read ingredients really carefully--like wheat is in most canned soups and sauces. I had to totally change my eating habits.

For breakfast I had Corn Chex with a banana. For lunch, I'll probably have some tuna and a salad. I'm thinking about putting hamburgers on the grill for dinner(no bun for me unless I use a gluten free English muffin).

But you know what I'm discovering--even bigger than how to eat gluten free?

It's all in my attitude. Here's my new thinking. I still GET TO HAVE ice cream. As much popcorn as I want. Mounds candy bars--Snickers, too.

I have a choice about my attitude. When I start feeling sorry for myself, it ruins my day and I'm sure I'm not much fun to be with. Here's the thing with change. Sooner or later, it's coming to all of us. Life will go in a direction you didn't plan. Something will come your way that you didn't expect.

Just remember self pity is never a good thing.

Someone somewhere is going through the same thing.

We can use the hard things in life that happen to us to help others.

With love and a Mounds candy bar,

Julie
P.S. Anybody having to go through an unexpected change right now?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Feeling Inconsequential?


I received this note about the letter e in my email box. I was impressed by how vital little ole "e" is. A very useful character, indeed. And I realized, that little ole m"e" is of great consequence in the Lord's scheme of things, even when I don't see the obvious.

THE LETTER "E"

It has been said that the letter "E" is the most unfortunate character!
It is always out of case, forever in debt, never out of danger, and in trouble all the time. But it can be considered in another way "E" is never in war, but always in peace. Moreover, it's the very center of honesty, and ease begins and ends with it.
Best of all, God's love, mercy, and grace all contain it. It is in the name that is above every other name, Jesus and is found in the gospel of our eternal redemption, Eternal life, begins and ends with it; and who could write about heaven without it. It has a place in hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized, arise, newness of life, prayer, learn, practice, death, resurrection and reward!


I googled and binged but didn't find the author of this wonderful piece. So, instead, I offer up a prayer that his/her words will bless many.


Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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