Monday, February 28, 2011

Feeling Thankful


A couple weeks ago, I had a very good work morning. It had been one of those rare experiences where I flew through everything on my to-do list, wound up with way more time to edit than I thought I would, and edits went smoothly. As I sat down to lunch, I expressed to God that I was thankful for my writing time that morning.

And - as clear as if my husband walked in the room and said it to me - I heard the words, "When was the last time you told me thank you?"

First, I must say, I'm always stunned by how God speaks directly ... yet doesn't shame me. When I look at those words in black and white, they sound almost cold, angry. But they didn't feel that way. They felt like a loving nudge at my heart.

I marveled at the truth of those words for the rest of the day. When had I last thanked God for the time He'd given me to write? You know what I normally do? Complain that I don't have more. Complain that I'm not getting the time to write that I'd like.

A whole list of complaints sprung to mind. I complain when I don't get the time to play with my kids that I'd like, when I have to spend mornings running errands with them instead of playing pretend with my 3-year-old. I complain when I don't have much time to read. Or when it's time to do laundry or dishes.

And it occurred to me, what on earth would motivate God to provide me with more time for writing, more time for playing with my kids, when I can't even appreciate the time He's given me? If my daughter were to complain about all her toys being "not good enough," would that make me want to buy her new toys? Of course not. It would tell me she has a few lessons to learn.

So I'm working on being thankful. Not just saying I'm thankful because it's what I'm supposed to do, but making an effort to think through my blessings and letting my heart fill with gratitude as I do this. When I clean, I tell God I'm thankful to have a house to clean. When I work on taxes, I tell Him I'm grateful He's allowed me to do what I love for a living. When I do laundry, I tell God how grateful I am that He's provided so many nice clothes for me and my family.

And I find giving thanks with a grateful heart has done something to me on the inside, made me a more joyous, content person. Always? Of course not. But progress is being made.

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. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Once Upon a Time (Part Two)

If you missed Part One, you can read it here.

I don’t remember what he did for a living. Something with his hands, I think. She was a stewardess. They were both gentle and soft spoken and always seemed to be smiling. She’d prepare snacks and spread them out on the kitchen counter before we all piled into their living room, a laughing, flirting cross-section of high school society. Athletes, cheerleaders, band geeks. Book worms and party animals. Introverts, extroverts, and every imaginable “vert” in between. We’d finally settle into spots on the furniture or floor, and the meeting would begin.

I’m sure there was structure to our discussion, but that’s not what sticks in my mind. In a very real sense I was a newborn infant. I’m no expert on how much babies remember, but I think one of the most important gifts a parent or caregiver can give a newborn is a sense of being safe, loved, and nurtured. I know I learned a lot about God and the Bible at those meetings, but even more significant, I found family. Entering their modest house was like coming home, and she became a very real spiritual mother to me. Someone I could talk to when I was curious or confused. Someone I could trust.

She opened her heart, her arms, and her home to us. They both did. But sometimes I noticed an ache in their eyes, and one day it all made sense. I’d always assumed she was childless by choice. It would be hard to fly all over the world and raise a baby at the same time. I mean, what if your child’s teacher called to tell you he was sick in Dallas, and you were in Tokyo? So, I assumed. But I was wrong. They wanted children. Longed for children. Prayed and asked God for children. And God said, “no.”

They could have been angry with God. Could have shook their fists and stomped their feet and refused to worship a God who filled other couples’ arms and left theirs empty. But they didn’t do that. They opened their arms to us.

Embracing teens is hardly the same as embracing a cuddly little baby. We could get pretty loud and hormonal and opinionated, and sometimes some of us (not to name names, but their initials were B.O.Y.S.) smelled sweaty and gross, especially if they’d just played a quick pick-up game of football right before they crowded into that small living room. Some days we showed up late, and some days we broke house rules, and many times we didn’t think to say, “I’m sorry” or “thank you.” Sure, they may have had to confront similar behavior in biological children, too, but at least they would have had the opportunity to train them beforehand. And, perhaps more to the point, most people don’t bear biological children a dozen or two at a time.

But here’s the thing. They left their private sorrow at the throne of grace, and they opened their empty arms to a pack of imperfect teens who had gritty questions about life and truth and God. They poured their souls into those teens, and the seeds are still bearing fruit. Some went into full-time ministry. Some spent time on the mission field. One of them, a sixteen-year-old girl who’d given the reins of her life to Jesus but didn’t have the first clue what that meant, found her family and hasn’t once been tempted to run away from home.

She longed for a baby of her own. God called her to help birth me into His family instead.

They eventually adopted two little girls from China who have since grown into lovely young women. We lost touch over the years, but I saw her again not long ago. She’s retired now. Or, I should say, she’s retired from her job as a stewardess. She’s still embracing younger women, pouring into their lives as a Mentor Mom for a large MOPS group in Dallas. I spoke at one of their meetings last year. As I shared our story and encouraged all those young mommies to trust God with their children, she smiled.

Was she remembering my baby days, realizing how far grace has brought me, and feeling a sense of gratitude and motherly pride? I can’t say for sure, but one thing I do know. She finally got her “thank you.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MTV's Teen Mom

The MTV show Teen Mom (spun off from 16 and Pregnant) is the hottest thing out there. You know it's big when these teen parents grace the majority of the magazine covers at check out stands.

Recently, during a radio interview I was asked what I thought about the show. Of course I was happen to give my opinion. :)

I think it's SAD! I think it's wrong for a show to exploit teen parents like this. I've watched the majority of the shows and my heart goes out to the young people.

What I don't like is the TV camera getting caught up in their drama and angst. There have been fist fights, shouting matches, tears. Lots of tears. Yes, it's reality, but can't we do better?

What I would LOVE to see is a show that would help these young parents.  An Extreme Makeover of their life and circumstances. People could be brought in to give them guidance on their education and parenting classes and job training and relationship counseling and ... a listening ear.

Why are we so fascinated with seeing these teens fumble? Should we make stars out of them because their problems make for good TV?

While I can't be a personal mentor to all these young people (I wish I could), I'm going to do my part in reaching out to the young parents God put in my path.

Won't you do the same? These young parents need you. Your loving care could be the first step in the makeover of their lives.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"I don't have a story!"

For years people would ask me, "So what's your testimony?"

And I hated that question. You already know I'm a sucker for a great story. I mean, the way things weave in and out and mesh together, the way stuff culminates in THE moment, how seemingly random stuff all of a sudden falls together and makes sense...it's poetic, and I'm in love with it. I'm a writer--those things make my soul feel alive!

Growing up, especially in my teen years, I met people with these fabulous testimonies all about how God rescued them from awful decisions they'd made, or how God showed up and pulled them out of troubling situations, or how God "coincidentally" had them in the right place at the right time. Other kids would stand up at the campfire at the end of the week at camp and tell wonderful stories of God's redemption and how much He'd worked in their lives over the week.

And I'd have nothin'.

See, I've been a Christian since I was four years old. As tired as the phrase is, I grew up in a Christian home. I remember being at church all the time as a very young kid. I watched my mom highlight things in her Bible, so I'd attack my children's Bible with a yellow marker and scribble in the margins. I made a decision, on my own when I was probably about four, that I wanted to follow Jesus. I don't know what day it was. I have no idea why I wanted to make that decision, but I did. I only had a very basic understanding of Jesus. I knew He loved me, and I wanted to love Him forever, too.

So my "story" began. I say "story" because I truly believed you couldn't get much more boring than that.

I spent a lot of years going to church, going to church camp, and I even went to a Christian school in middle school. I learned a lot during those years, but every time someone would bring up testimonies I'd start feeling let down. I knew I was a Christian. I knew what God had done for me. But, really? There was no orchestral accompaniment, no shocking moments, no instantaneous decision to put aside my four-year-old vices.

I had no story.

And I really believed I had no story all the way until I was about 20 years old when God met me in a special way and showed me that I was so very, very wrong.

Next time I post I'll tell you a little more about how He was faithful to show me that my life has more of a story than I'd ever imagined.

Maybe you're like me and you feel like your testimony is a little boring. And maybe the rest of my story will give you a little bit of encouragement.

Because God doesn't write boring stories. :-)

Want to tell me about your testimony? Email me at ashleymayswrites at gmail dot com or visit my website (www.ashley-mays.com) and contact me there. I can't wait to hear YOUR story.

Love always.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Thousand Gifts






Reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp has changed my world. Altered my thinking. Shaken up the way I perceive life. Just watching the video moved me.

I finished the book a couple of days ago and passed it on to someone else. I underlined something on almost every single page.

A friend challenges the author to try and make a list of one thousand things she's grateful for. Doing this changes her life--as well as so many others.

Just watch the video...see what you think.

Love,
Julie

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Waiting for the Next Big Thing

So Valentine's Day is over. (For some that may be a relief - my daughter told me that her teacher called it "Single Awareness Day")
What's next?

St. Patrick's Day - never been much for that holiday. Easter is around the corner. That's fun. Chocolate eggs and Easter egg hunts and celebrating how merciful the Lord is to us all. Spring is also around the corner (at least I really hope it is!)

I've been in a waiting mode for quite some time. I've had years of practice with waiting. Waiting is never easy. But waiting also never goes away. I've learned something about waiting - there is a difference between "just waiting" (picture yourself standing at a busy intersection waiting for that little green man to start blinking and tell you that it's time to cross the road) and "waiting on God".

Just Waiting

When we are "just waiting", we are looking for something to change - the "next, big thing". We are kind of just holding on until then. Back in college, I was convinced that no one would ever fall in love with me. One of my best friends, who I had a probably not so secret crush on, seemed only interested in dating my friends. True confession: I never had a boyfriend. Not once. But since I've been deliriously and happily married for nearly 16 years, I can assure you that I don't have one single regret about that. In fact, I'm pretty happy that it worked out that way! But here's the scenario:

in high school, you wait to graduate
in college, you wait to graduate
you wait to find someone
you wait to get married
you wait to find a job
you wait to have kids
(then once you have kids, there's all sorts of new waiting that starts to happen!)

Waiting on God

Instead of waiting "for the next big thing", I've been trying to practice waiting on God. How is that different? When we wait on God - we are looking for Him - not the next big thing. We are sharing with Him all of those dreams and hopes, but allowing Him to hold them for us while we focus on what he has put in front of us. I don't know what the next horizon holds. I don't know what it will look like. But I know that He is good, and He is the One that holds the future. So I talk with Him about my hopes and dreams, but my daily focus is on what He has put in front of me. We really only need be concerned about today. What are we supposed to accomplish for Him today?

If we're "just waiting" - we can miss what we are supposed to be doing today. We can miss out on the ways God is preparing us for what's on that horizon. Which means, of course, that it could just end up making us have to wait even longer because we're not ready for what God has planned.

I definitely don't want to miss out on what God has planned. So I'm going to wait on Him by dreaming with Him and being faithful with what He has put in front of me today. What has He put in front of you?



Sarah Anne Sumpolec is still trying to figure out what God wants her to be when she grows up. In the meantime, she writes YA novels, speaks to teens and college students, writes screenplays and is a Youth Theater director. She thoroughly enjoys being a wife and mom and you can find out more about her and her books at her website: a naked faith

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day--or not

Camy here! I intended to have this post up earlier today but I got sidetracked because I’m on deadline. Sorry about that!

How’s your Valentine’s Day going? Good or bad? Most of my Valentine’s Days when I was in my teens and twenties totally sucked. It wasn’t just not having a boyfriend, it was feeling like nobody cared about me.

I now know that wasn’t true. There were lots of people who cared about me, but I had closed myself off from people because I thought they wouldn’t want to be close to me.

But I also think that time in my life was because Jesus wanted me to be closer to Him. I have the type of personality where I will fill my life with friends who will take the place of God. Instead of depending solely and completely on Him, I will depend on my friends more than I should.

So God will sometimes have to take all my friends away from me for a little while to remind me that I need to depend on Him more, and to re-teach me how to do that. I think that’s what most of my teens and twenties were about.

(Or it could be that at the time, I wasn’t really a nice enough person that a boy would want to date me. Luckily God worked in me to make me a better person.)

Hmm, that’s not a very uplifting Valentine’s Day post. Then again, I’ve never enjoyed V-Day even when I got married, maybe because I remember how hard those days were when I was younger.

I guess if you’re at the same point I was, don’t lose hope. Cling to Jesus because He’s all you’ll need, and it really will get better. Sometimes it means God needs to work on you more, but other times it just means you need to be patient and trust that Jesus knows what He’s doing.

Love and peace,
Camy

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 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!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In sickness and health

I spent half of January and the first week of February engaged in an off-and-on battle with sickness. Twice I thought I'd won, thought I was on the mend, only to overexert myself and wind up back on the couch with my husband bringing me pots of hot tea.

Finally, during the third week when I grew more miserable with each day, I broke down and called my doctor. She diagnosed me with a sinus infection, wrote me a prescription, and sent me on my way. Within a couple days, I felt significantly better.

It occurred to me, when it became clear the antibiotic was doing it's thang, that I'd had no personal control over my health. I couldn't "will" myself to be better. I'd needed help.

And it's the same way with sin.



In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster calls attention to Isaiah 57:20. "The wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters toss up mire and dirt." Foster says, "The sea does not need to do anything special to produce mire and dirt; that is the result of its natural motions. This is also true of us when we are under the condition of sin. The natural motions of our lives produce mire and dirt. Sin is part of the internal structure of our lives. No special effort is needed to produce it."

The sin is a part of me. I can ignore it, I can deny it, but it's still there. Same as three weeks ago when I noticed my throat getting scratchy and thought, "Maybe if I ignore it, it'll go away." Ignoring it did nothing.

We can't will away our sin. To be made healthy, we need God's help. But there are things we can do to promote our soul's health, same as getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water helps our physical bodies.

Prayer and Bible reading are a good place to start. I don't want to diminish the importance of those. But they're the first steps of action we jump to when we think about turning to God, so I want to suggest two other things that I think greatly benefit our soul's health, two things that I'm reluctantly practicing:

1. Not having to have my own way.

This has been one of the hardest disciplines for me to work on. Most the time, I'm convinced my way is the right way to do things. Like, we should go out for Italian tonight because we had Chinese last time. Or, no we shouldn't agree to do such-and-such event because we already have three other things going on that weekend.

While I might say things like, "Let's compromise," or, "Okay, we can do what you want," my actions often don't line up with my words. Yeah, we can do what you want ... but you're gonna know the whole time that it's not what I want to be doing.

And if it doesn't work out, I might not say the words, "I told you so," but you'll be able to sense them radiating off me.

When I practice having a good attitude about not getting my way, something magical happens in my soul.

2. Admitting I can't do it alone.

I find I'm (mostly) fine doing something that serves someone else. I'm glad to take a meal to someone who's just had a baby or pick up milk for my brother-in-law if I'm at Costco. I like doing these things. Makes me feel good.

But what happens when I'm sick and someone offers to bring me dinner? Or when my brother-in-law asks if I need anything from Costco? My first instinct is, "No, I'm fine, but thanks."

I don't like admitting that my energy, my health, my will power, my anything isn't sufficient to see me through. I don't want to need help. Or rather, I simply don't want to need.

For the last three weeks, I relied on my husband to make dinner, care for the kids, and keep the house clean. It was humbling to see how well he manages tasks that usually fall to me. I appreciated it, but I didn't like it. I didn't like having to ask grandparents to come over and watch the kids so I could lie on the couch. I appreciated them, but I didn't like it.

Admitting my deficiencies and allowing those in my community to serve me is a humbling task. And I know I need humbling.

I'm healthy now, but I'm thankful for the three-week-long reminder that even when my body is operating as intended, I still desperately need God's healing for my soul.

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, February 11, 2011

Once Upon a Time (Part One)



I was sixteen when I understood who Jesus was. If you’d asked me before then, I would have said I was a Christian. I was baptized as an infant. I’d been through a confirmation class and joined the church when I was in the fourth grade. As far as I knew, that was the total package. But then a strange thing happened in ninth grade. I grew dissatisfied. Not with anything in particular, but with everything in general. I didn’t know who I was or where I fit in or who I even wanted to be. People tended to annoy me -- especially churchy people -- and I became a rather jaded, sarcastic soul.

Then an even stranger thing happened when I started tenth grade. I noticed something different about some of my classmates. They seemed . . . I didn’t even know what to call it. Happy? No, not so much happy as . . . what was it? Satisfied? That was the best word I could come up with. It was like they had some sort of inner light source and they walked around with a glow. Or maybe it was more the absence of something. I didn’t sense in them the gnawing emptiness I felt in myself. But I had no idea why. So I did the only reasonable thing. I started hanging out more with those friends in hopes whatever it was would rub off.

The glowy friends (there really was a light about them) spent a lot of time at church-related events. No biggie, I thought. I’m a Christian. Baptized. Confirmed. All that. I jumped right in, going to their meetings, participating in their clubs. And that’s where it happened. I went to a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting and heard a man speak about Jesus. I can’t tell you anything he said except for one sentence. “If you want to be a Christian, you have to make Jesus Lord of your life.”

Have you ever been in a situation where suddenly everyone around you disappears, and the world moves in slow motion, and you are left severely alone with yourself? Or at least, you think you’re alone with yourself, but Someone else is there, too. That’s what happened to me then. “Jesus isn’t Lord of my life,” I told myself. “I am. So, I guess that means I’m not a Christian. And, if I’m not a Christian, I guess that means I’m going to hell.”

You’d think that realization (because I really did believe it) would have been enough to send me running into Jesus’ arms, but it wasn’t. Making Jesus Lord was serious business. If I agreed to that arrangement, then I’d be giving up all rights to my life. Anything He asked me to do, I would have to do. Anything He asked me to give up, I would have to give up. The possibilities paraded before my imagination. There was the standard missionary-to-Africa thing on the “have to do” side, and then there were friends and hobbies on the “have to give up” side. I honestly wasn’t sure which I preferred -- holding the reins to my life now with hell to come, or giving up the reins to Jesus and living what might be a boring or hardship-filled life with heaven as my reward.

As I weighed these options, a question formed in my mind. “Who made you?”

“God did,” I responded.

“Then who’s going to make you happiest?”

That was it. No formal prayer. No walking an aisle. I saw, and I surrendered, and the rest of that evening I walked on air. I didn’t even know what to call what had happened to me. “Saved” wasn’t in my vocabulary. But that night I became a new creature, and like a baby bird with its mouth wide open, I craved food.

God sent some key people into my life at that point, and one of them was a very special lady. She was only in her mid-twenties at the time (to my sixteen-year-old mind, she was practically middle-aged), but she and her husband had a heart to disciple teens, and they joyfully opened their home to an energetic group of us every week. It wasn’t until much later that I realized she had longings of her own, prayers God had chosen to answer with a “no.” Her response to that private sorrow made all the difference in my life and many others.

(To be continued . . .)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It still feels like a gift to me.

Growing up I never thought, "Someday I'd like to travel." I loved reading. I loved visiting new places in books. But the idea of me traveling to another country was, well, foreign to me.

I grew up in Northern California, so going to Oregon was common. I stayed around the same 150 mile radius my whole life except for an occasional vacation to the Oregon coast or the San Francisco bay area. Once my family even went to Disneyland. That was a very big deal.

Now, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I've been to Europe four times and I've visited six different European countries--for mission trips and to research my books. I've been to Canada often, but living near there in Montana that doesn't really count. I've been to nearly 3/4 of the states--for research, conferences, or speaking events. I love the Mexican food in San Antonio, the museums of DC, the winter weather or Orlando, the fall colors of Maine--and so much more this country has to offer. I love visiting tourist spots but I also like finding the places only locals go to get a true taste of what life there is really like.

The best part of travel is that it still feels like a gift to me. Since it wasn't something I strove to do or I expected, every trip feels like God saying to me, "I have someplace you're gonna go ... and you're going to love this." After I dedicated my life to him as a seventeen-year-old, He's given me many amazing gifts, and travel is just one of those things. It makes me think of Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

All through my teen years I fought God. Even though I grew up learning about Him, I preferred to do things my way. I hardly went to church, never read my Bible, and refused to listen to Christian music because it was lame. (Or so I thought.) Instead, I dated lots of boys, watched the worst movies possible, hung out with my friends, and indulged in the pleasures of the moment. I thought I'd find happiness there. I was wrong. Instead, true happiness was found when I offered my complete self to God. Not only did He give me peace, joy, and love. He gave me an amazing husband, great kids, an unbelievable career, and as an added bonus the ability to travel and experience the world.

Growing up, I expected to live in the same town my whole life and work as a school teacher because I love kids. Now that I'm an adult God gave me more than I could have imagined. His dreams for me were bigger than I ever dared imagine. He gave me a hope and a future ... and I can't wait to see what He continues to have in store.

I'm forever thankful for the day I decided to give my everything to Him, and I can't wait to see where our "forever together" will continue to lead me! What about you? What are you 'forever thankful" for?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

An Introduction

Hi Everyone!

My name is Ashley Mays.



You might know me from my time at BRIO magazine, where I was the editorial assistant. Or you might vaguely remember me from the lackluster two posts I've done here before I fell off the blogging wagon. Or you might not know me at all! I'm going to be joining the other contributers here on Girls, God and the Good Life (for real this time), and I'm really excited about getting to know everyone.

So you can get to know me a little better, here are a few things you should know:

1) I'm very happily married. He goes by Henry in the online world. It's not his real name, but it's what my dearest friend and I call him.
2) I hate snow. I live in Colorado. It makes for a really interesting combination.
3) When I grow up, I want to write books for teen girls. I've wanted to do this since I was 13 years old. I'm 26 years old now and I'm kind of wondering, so when is it that you actually grow up?
4) I used to work as a camp counselor. I think it was the best job I've ever had. Because I don't think it gets any better than working with your best friends in the whole world.
5) My favorite candy in the whole world is Twizzlers. Not a big chocolate fan.

I look forward to babbling here in my spare time. And I can't wait to get to know you readers better! Feel free to ask me any questions you want--email me at ashleymayswrites at gmail dot com, or visit my website (http://www.ashley-mays.com/) and fill out the contact form. Can't wait to make some new friends!

Love always.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Questioning the Answer

Today I saw God starting to answer a prayer. A big one, for a situation that I've been going to Him with daily. It's so huge that I've asked friends to pray, added it to prayer loops, and bring it up weekly at church. I've known for a long time that it would take a miracle to turn this problem around, most likely a series of miracles. Yesterday I saw the first signs that God was working. This morning I saw more evidence. And this evening, as I shared this breakthrough with a friend, I admitted the honest response of my heart: I'm not sure I believe it.

What is my problem? Why I do restrain myself whenever I start to praise God and share the praise with others? The truth? I'm afraid that it might be too good to be true. I'm afraid of being disappointed again. I'm afraid to believe that God would do the seemingly impossible, only to have the rug pulled out from under me. Not that I think He would do something wonderful only to take it back. But what if I'm only imagining that things are turning around? What if it's only a step in a different, even worse direction? What if what I saw as an answer is only wishful thinking? So that is where my mind has been going ever since I saw my prayer in the beginning stages of being answered. I'm praising but doubtful; grateful but suspicious; joyful but afraid to get my hopes up. And I feel terrible about it. God answered a prayer, and I'm afraid to celebrate.

So tonight I am praying that God will change my heart--to help me trust Him to love me enough to actually answer a prayer that I thought I'd have to wait a lot longer for. I'm also asking Him to help me remember that since this situation will require a process, the changes I've seen already are miracles in themselves. Who am I to say that He isn't willing to do something great for me?

Am I alone here? Am I the only one who has gotten what she wanted and immediately assumed that God would cancel the deal?

God, silence the voices that tell me your gifts are too good to be true. Help me to trust, not only your ability to do the impossible for me, but your desire to do it.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Calling All Writers Under Age 25

I'm so excited! I get to help judge a writers' contest on Stephanie Morrill's Go Teen Writers Blog. I fell in love with words by accident. My mother is also a writer. Being the oldest of her four children, she chose me to become her junior editor. I was ten years old and not too thrilled with the idea. Oh,I was so tough on her. I wrote things like, "Boring! Who cares?" on her typed pages. I always used a red marker.

But my heart beat a little faster as I read a sentence that seemed to shine. I drew a pink heart on her paper every time that happened. And something began to form inside me.

I learned a tiny bit about writing with heart.

Good writing moves me.It makes me cry, makes my heart sing, and causes me to pause and read every single word as slowly as possible.

I didn't began writing until after I turned 40. A year later, my first article was published. So many times I've said, "Thank you, God. You had a plan. I couldn't see it at the time, but You used my childhood editing for good."

So, with a heart that's still moved by beautiful words, I'm honored to help judge Stephanie's contest.

P.S. Anyone under 25 can enter.
P.S.S. Did anything in your childhood help prepare you for life?

Love,
Julie

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Love filmmaking, singing, acting or writing???


Then have I got some news for you!! Want to spend a week this summer hobnobbing with filmmaking, writing and acting professionals from all over the country? Want to grow as an artist? Want to explore the media arts in an environment that honors the Lord?

Yes, Yes, Yes!

Gideon Teen Intern Program (GI)

The Gideon Intern Program is a unique and fabulous part of the Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival. It is designed exclusively for teens between the ages of 16 and 18 who are ready to take their love of the media arts to the next level. Media Arts, you ask? Well, we're talking about things like writing, screenwriting, acting, directing, radio, TV, church drama, and producing. Our interns participate in every aspect of the conference, plus get to have exclusive meals with industry professionals to ask questions and learn from them.

This year we also will have a special filmmaking and novel writing track that some of our interns will be selected to participate in.

But don't sit around and wait - you have to apply to be a part of the program! For all the details and an application, please see our website: Gideon Teen Intern program

And as if that wasn't enough!!! A new contest this year allows singers and songwriters to compete for a record deal!!! You only need to be 15 to participate! Check out more info: Music Talent Search Contest


Music Artist Talent Search & Songwriter Competition

The Gideon and Lamon Records announced two new competitions for Gideon 2011. The Music Artist Talent Search is looking for the next great Christian singer, the winner gets a 4 song EP produced by Grammy nominated and Dove Award winning producer Dave Moody in Nashville, which is worth $20,000. The Songwriting Competition winner gets a publishing contract with one of our BMI, ASCAP or SESAC affiliated publishing companies. Winning composition to be recorded by the winner of the Artist Grand Prize. To learn more go to our Contest Page or to Lamon Records

Can you tell I'm excited?? I have participated with the Gideon Conference for three years now and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Consider joining us in the Blue Ridge Mountains from August 6-11th - you won't regret it!!

Got questions? Let me know! And please, please, please, help me spread the word about these amazing opportunities!!

Thanks!

Sarah

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