Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cool Blogs

I have been working on a list of blogs I like to visit. I am going to update my blog listing on the right hand side of this page. Does anyone have any great blog sites they like to visit? If so, comment on them and I'll check them out.

Today I am adding the FaithChicks blog to the bloglist. This blog has numerous Christian Fiction writers who post entries on their latest books, the life of a writer and everyday life. Some of the posts are funny while others are serious or informational. I check it out every few days to read through the entries that interest me.

For a sample of what you might find on the site, here's a quote from Sharon Dunn's blog entry on the power of storytelling...

"I think the last weeks of debate over The Da Vinci Code have been a true duh moment for Christians. Why are we getting worked up into a lather over a story. Why this rush to defend our beliefs over characters and a plot line? It could only mean one thing. Stories are important and they do have power: the power to change a heart, shape a culture and pass on values from one generation to the next.

"Yet within the Christian community there is often a bias against fiction. Often people say that they only want to read stories that are "true." Hmmm something doesn't fit here. The Christian community has produced a plethora (I knew I would get a chance to use that word) of books explaining why the Da Vinci Code is inaccurate. But if is just a story, why the big rush to defend our beliefs against it?

"The problem is that because we have dismissed the power of story, we end up playing defense too often. And then you get something like this frenzy surrounding Da Vinci. It makes us look reactionary and a little bit hyper and silly. We need to quit playing defense and start playing offense. If we influence the culture through story, there would be no need to get so worked up into a lather over something like Da Vinci. Stuff like Da Vinci would be quickly dismissed, because our truth transmitted through story would already be entrenched in the culture.

With almost all issues that we care about abortion, homosexuality, saving sex for marriage, the facts and stats back us up. But people are bored by facts and stats. They are excited by characters that they relate to emotionally. What we need here is not this constant playing defense, but we need a bridge between the holders of the facts and the tellers of the stories. Wooden characters reciting statistics won't fly. We need people entrenched in truth who can also tell a ripping good yarn. And we need to get over this thinking that only nonfiction is "true" and of value."

I liked those comments a lot and was happy to hear someone else defending the importance of a good story. So check out Faithchicks for more interesting blog entries and keep checking my links section for more great blogs.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quotation Inspiration for June 28, 2006

A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be. – Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Quotation Inspiration for June 22, 2006

"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely." – Karen Kaiser Clark

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Quotation Inspiration

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." - Maria Robinson (no relation!)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Captivating - Chapter Eight

Here's quotes from the latest chapter. This was another good one, and much easier to read than chapters five and six.

"Women want to impact their world for good. As corulers with Adam, we are created to do so, and one of the key ways we influence our world is in making it a more beautiful place to live. We decorate our homes. We put flowers on the table. Pioneer women brought china teacups into the wilderness, and I bring a pretty tablecloth to eat on when my family camps. We wear perfume, point our toenails, color our hair, and pierce our ears, all in an effort to be ever more beautiful.
Beauty is the most essential and, yes, the most misunderstood of all the feminine qualities. We want you to hear clearly that it is an essence every woman carries from the moment of her creation. The only things standing in the way of our beauty are our doubts and fears, and the hiding and striving we fall to as a result." (page 132)

"So the choice a woman makes is not to conjure beauty, but to let her defenses down. To choose to set aside her normal means of survival and just let her heart show up. Beauty comes with it." (page 133)

"A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving." (page 134/135)

"We don't get to stay in hiding until we are whole; Jesus invites us to live as an inviting woman now, and find our healing along the way." (page 138)

"We can't wait until we feel safe to love and invite. In fact, if you feel a little scared, then you're probably on the right path. Of course it's scary. It's vulnerable. It's naked. God calls us to stop hiding, to stop dominating, to trust him, and to offer our true selves. He wants us to bring to bear the weight of our lives and all that he has given to us, worked into us, and offer it to our world. To entice, allure, and invite others to Jesus by reflecting his glory in our lives. He will give no guarantee that others will enjoy us or respond well." (page 141)

"Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as he tells us what we need. Sometimes it will be a bubble bath. Sometimes it is going for a run or a movie or a nap. Often, Jesus will call us away to spend precious time alone with him. We grow in our intimacy with Jesus as we practice listening to his urging, his nudges within. Pay attention to them and follow. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our counselor, our comforter, our Great Friend, and he will lead us. Abiding in Christ means paying attention to the voice of God within, nourishing our own hearts and nourishing our relationship with him. Over time." (page 145)

Quotation Inspiration

"The ancestor of every action is a thought." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cars - Drop Everything and Go See it Now

One of the really cool things about having a child in the family is that you can go to "kids" movies and not look odd. I have been to child-friendly movies before without a child and I always feel like someone is going to ask me to leave. So it was with great joy that I headed out to the theater on Sunday with my nephew in tow to see Pixar's latest flick "Cars."

My mom, sister-in-law, nephew and myself loaded up on popcorn, sweedish fish, snickers poppers, skittles and diet cokes and got a prime seat - on the aisle in the case the two-and-a-half year old nephew couldn't make it all the way through his first movie. (Please don't lecture me on the idea of a diet coke with all that junk, I'm not listening...)

First of all to report on Evan's first movie experience, he did quite well. Better than I expected, actually. He liked the movie and the cars, although the constant snacking for the entire movie was the highlight for him. (He doesn't just look like his Aunt Jessi, he also acts like her as well!) With about 20-30 minutes to go in the movie, Evan's mother took a trip to the bathroom and Evan got a bit bothered by being left in the dark, new place without her. I took him out to the hallway to wait for her and then we all trecked back in. That disruption was pretty much the end for him, he was ready to go home. So he saw all of the movie except for the last twenty minutes or so.

Now for the movie itself. I loved it! It was funny, and had a lot of heart. It was easy to forget they weren't real. The actor's voices were very fitting to their car and it transended the fact that it was just a cartoon. There were some great morals to the story and they were presented in a natural, easy way - not too cutesy or preachy.

I loved the credits at the beginning when the tractor-trailer was taking Lightning to California. The music (Life is a Highway by Rascall Flatt's) was perfect and the road/driving scenes looked realistic. It was just a fun scene. Another favorite part was the Piston Cup race at the end when the townies from Radiator Springs showed up as the pit crew. I adored the Italian tire salesmen duo and the Mater the two truck.

If you go see it, make sure you sit through the credits. There is a hilarious scene where the cars are at the drive-in theater watching movies. The movies are all past Pixar movies (Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, A Bug's Life, etc.) with cars as the lead characters. It was really one of the funniest scenes of the movies.

If I had any complaints, they rested only upon the theater itself. First of all, I HATE the movie theater at the Town Mall in Westminster. I drive an hour out of my way to avoid it. But since we had Evan, we figured we'd need to go close by. And it was every bit as crappy as I remembered. They had one ticket seller and one person serving snacks. The line was about 30 people deep to get in and then 30 or 40 people deep getting snacks. By the time you get to your seat, you're exhausted. The floors were just as sticky as they used to be - it's probably still the same gunk that was there the last time I was there. I will say that the movie didn't break at any point in the movie and the mouths appeared to line up with the words as well which was quite an improvement from most of my other experiences there. So while I won't be going back until I absolutely positively have to, we got through it reasonably unscathed.

In addition, I'd like to request that the next time a movie theater shows a movie to an audience mostly made up of elementary school kids, how about skipping the 25 minutes of previews. Evan would have made it through the whole movie if he hadn't had to watch preview after preview. They are often annoying enough when I go to the movies, but with kids movies they are completely unnecessary. Most of the movies were not even coming out until Christmas or next summer. What kid (or most of the adults for that matter) will remember these previews and look forward to something coming in June of 2007? Who even cares about a movie that's not even finished yet?

So aside from my whining about the movie experience (and I'm not even going to comment on the popcorn, drinks and snacks that cost more than I put in my gas tank last week and with the price of gas, that's saying something), go see Cars with or without a youngster. It's charming and fun!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Captivating - Chapter Seven

Here's more from my ongoing reading of "Captivating" from Chapter Seven.

"God wants to live this life together with you, to share in your days and decisions, your desires and disappointments. He wants intimacy with you in the midst of the madness and mundane, the meetings and memos, the laundry and lists, the carpools and conversations and projects and pain. He wants to pour his love into your heart and he longs to have you pour yours into his. He wants your deep heart, that center place within that is the truest you. He is not interested in intimacy with the woman you think you are supposed to be. He wants intimacy with the real you." (page 121)

It was women who followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. It was women who stayed at the foot of the cross, offering him the comfort of their presence until Jesus breathed his last (only John remained with them). It was to women that Jesus first revealed himself after he rose from the dead, and it was women who first "clasped his feet and worshiped him" (Matt. 28:9) as the Risen, Victorious Lord.
Women hold a special place in the heart of God. A woman's worship brings Jesus immense pleasure and a deep ministry. You can minister to the heart of God. You impact him. You matter. Jesus desires you to pour out your love on him in extravagant worship that ministers to his heart. This is not just for women who have the time, women who are really spiritual. You are made for romance, and the only one who can offer it to you consistently and deeply is Jesus. Offer your heart to him." (page 124/125).

The culture of women in the church today is crippled by some very pervasive lies. "To be spiritual is to be busy. To be spiritual is to be dutiful." No, to be spiritual is to be in a Romance with God. The desire to be romanced lies deep in the heart of every woman. It is for such that you were made. And you are romanced, and ever will be. (page 127)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quotation Inspiration

In my ongoing efforts to force myself to get into the habit of blogging daily, I am going to try to post a favorite quote every day. I have quite a list of quotes I love so this should be an easy post and one way to get into this habit.

Today's quote is probably one of my all-time favorite quotes.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You’re playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other’s won’t feel insecure around you." – Nelson Mandella

June Flourish Front Page

I am posting here my front page article for the June Flourish newsletter. Enjoy!

Every morning before they leave for the office or to take the kids to the bus, millions of women step in front of the mirror to make sure they look presentable. Hair look okay? Check. Makeup not too garish? Check. Buttons done correctly, everything tucked in evenly, nothing out of place? Check.

These days I’ve been adding yet another test before I walk out the door. I ask myself, “would Clinton and Stacy approve?” Often the case is “NO!” but I can’t afford to replace my entire wardrobe quite just yet.

If you know who Clinton and Stacy are then your taste in television shows must be similar to mine. The fashion and style experts of The Learning Channel’s What Not To Wear, Clinton Kelly and Stacy London hilariously tackle one fashioned-challenged woman each episode. They go through all her clothes and throw out everything that is outdated, unfashionable, ill-fitting and just plain wrong. Usually at this point, the woman literally only has the clothes on her back. Then they show the poor dear what she should wear to flatter her shape and frame and then send her out to the streets of New York City to shop. Luckily, she’s armed with a $5,000 Visa card that helps heal the pain from losing her entire wardrobe.

I love this show. We TIVO it and watch repeats on the weekends one right after the other. From Clinton and Stacy I’ve learned that clothes don’t have to match, they just have to go together. I’ve also learned it’s okay to wear white shoes year-round and that your handbag and shoes don’t have to match.

I’d love to have Clinton and Stacy tell me what to wear, but I’m afraid to ever show them what resides in my closet. I’ll just watch the show and learn from other’s mistakes!

One of the things about this show that always fascinates me is how the fashion-challenged never seem to think they look that bad. In fact, many of them argue with the experts and criticize their suggestions. I find myself yelling at the television in frustration. “Just trust these guys, they know what they are doing!”

And I’m not the only one frustrated - Clinton and Stacy are too. Sometimes you can see by the looks on their faces that they don’t understand why the woman won’t trust them and give something new a try. Invariably, the woman looks amazing at the end of the show and never once has one woman ever said she was happier with her “before” look. By the time it’s all over they are ready to agree their old look needed to go.

As I was watching a repeat episode the other evening, I was struck by the idea that God must feel an awful lot like Clinton and Stacy sometimes. Here He is, “the expert” on life - He did create it and sustains it - and we won’t follow His advice. We often won’t even try it out to see how it looks. We fight and argue and hold on to our outdated ways of thinking and God is trying to drag us into a better life. For some reason, we often just don’t buy it. We can’t see how the after can be any better than what we have right now.

Yet just like those women are amazed at how great they look when they follow the right advice, if we do obey the voice of God, we too are amazed at how well everything works out. Standing on the other side, we wonder why we didn’t trust the voice of God sooner!

I wondered for a moment why so often we refuse to heed the wisdom of God, but then Clinton gave me the answer when he replied to a woman who said the clothes fit wrong. He said they didn’t fit “wrong,” they just fit “differently” than she was used to. And that’s the key to understanding why we cling to our way instead of giving in to God’s plan - it feels wrong.

We can get used to following our own leading and get comfortable in our status quo. So when God asks us to shake things up a bit and do something unfamiliar - like change a bad habit or surrender something that’s holding us back or forsake a sin - we start arguing. When we do take a few faltering steps toward obedience, it feels wrong to us so we back off or give up.

What we need to remember is that it isn’t wrong - it’s just different. Doing something new, learning to give something up, or following the voice of God in an area we’ve previously held back from Him will feel unusual, different and awkward. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it anyway. We just have to trust that our “after” picture will be just as amazing as God tells us it will be. And if we can’t trust God, who can we trust?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Captivating - Chapter Six

If you've been reading my posts about the book "Captivating" here are more quotes for you. These are from Chapter Six, entitled " Healing the Wound."

"As we said earlier, the vows we made as children act like a deep-seated agreement with the message of our wounds. 'Fine. If that's how it is, then that's how it is. I'll live my life in the following way...' The vows we made acted like a kind of covenant with the messages that came with our deep wounds. Those childhood vows are very dangerous things. We must renounce them. Before we are entirely convinced they are not true, we must reject the message of our wounds. It's a way of unlocking the door to Jesus. Agreements lock the door from the inside. Renouncing the agreements unlocks to door to him." (Page 101)

"As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, 'The tears...streamed down, and I let them flow as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested.' Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered. It mattered. You mattered. That's not the way life was supposed to go. There are unwept tears down in there - the tears of a little girls who is lost and frightened. The tears of a teenage girl who's been rejected and has no place to turn. The tears of a woman whose life has been hard and lonely and nothing close to her dreams. Let the tears come." (Page 102)
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