Friday, April 30, 2010

One Question Friday












Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.




It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Ever seen a car with the word Ambassador printed in its side? I have and it always leaves me with a mysterious feeling. Who drives that? Is it simply a car service or is a government representative in there…the questions go on.

Here’s your question: If you could have anything printed on the side of your car to say something about you, what would you have printed?

Me (look, she’s answering this time): I’d go with Word Flinger or maybe I’d get Ambassador on my car after all.





Now your turn…

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I 8 Wednesdays—What Kind of Writer Are You?


A question for you today.

When you write do you write like you are...

*Tiptoeing through the tulips in the Netherlands? You adore sensory details, aesthetics, and the feelings evoked while you tap away at the keys. You’re likely to have the same chocolate treat and caffeinated beverage with you every time you sit to write, or a beautiful painting hanging near your computer to inspire your creative juices.

*Running with the bulls in Pamplona? It’s all action and excitement for you. The words fling on the page in a hurry, a mad dash actually. And the prose is so alive, you never know if what you’re working on is going to charge after you.

*Climbing every mountain in the Alps? You’re in this for the long haul. You’ve prepared for the trek, tucking maps in your satchel and carrying just the right weight so you won’t be burdened during your hike. You move ahead with endurance and great effort. Sentences are pieced together like premeditated plans to take the mountain.

*Splashing down Niagara Falls in a barrel? It’s a wild ride for you indeed. You aren’t only at risk for getting soaked, but you write with such abandon, you might just be taken down by your Work In Progress. Weeeeeeee.

*Geting lost in the Bermuda Triangle? Whether you’re a plotter or free-flowing writer, somehow your plot always takes unexpected turns, your scenes become muddled and you drift in and out of story lines with little recognition of when this is happening, as though in clear skies one moment and wrapped by hazy and dizzying clouds the next.

*Riding the rails hopping from train to train? Although your story stays on track, you find yourself in a dangerous flux of jumping from project to project. You’re thankful for where each one has brought you as a writer, but in order to get where you need to be your focus shifts and you engage in the dangerous leaping from one project to the next.

*Hiking the Oregon Trail? You’re required to constantly make wise decisions throughout your trip. Throw off extra weight (words) here. Use medicine for this ailment there (edits). You bounce onward in your covered wagon braving the elements, learning as you go. You are a pioneer setting out to discover new lands and to stake your claim with a bold white flag (a published book).

*Sailing the seven seas? You let the wind take you. You feel it in your hair and let it slap against your face as you concentrate on the voyage ahead. You’ve charted your course with unique characters, but this writing journey…this is one you will likely navigate for life.

So, which one did you read and think, yep that's me?
Or if you’re not a writer, which one describes how you take on a project?


*photos by Flickr

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Marriage Project by Kathi Lipp

She’s talking to me.

That was my exact thought as I read Kathi Lipp’s witty and action-inspiring book, The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter. And who doesn’t want a little more love and laughter in life, by the way?

Kathi Lipp writes with such a candid, humorous flare, I had to keep reminding myself I don’t actually know her in person. Her humility and eagerness to build a lasting marriage remind me of some of my dearest friends. One of those friends is the man I married. We read the book together. To-get-her (that’s how you get her, you read it together).

I love how Kathi divided The Marriage Project into two parts, one part devoted to preparing for the projects and the other part for implementing and acting on each project. Understanding the idea behind 21 days, the amount of time it takes to make or break a habit and reading about seeing my spouse through new eyes got my ramped up and ready to do the projects with my husband.

And why did we decide to do the projects together?

Kathi provides the answer. “We can talk about marriage all day long. We can buy books and listen to podcasts about how we should have great marriages. We can listen to sermons and do Bible studies. But unless we put some God-acts to our God-talk, no one benefits.”
~~~
And now you want to know if it worked. Here’s how I’ll answer that. Yes. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Marriage is work. I’ve never been shy about admitting that before and I feel no need to be now. Add three little kids on top of that and a recent death in the family and it becomes even more work. We dove into The Marriage Project at an ideal time. Our marriage needed some creativity and we needed to get intentional about our time together. The Marriage Project encouraged us with very specific and fun ways to reconnect.

The result: we bonded. We loved and laughed a little more and for that I’m deeply grateful.

To learn more about Kathi Lipp and her book visit: http://kathilipp.com/



What’s a book you’ve read on marriage that’s inspired you and your spouse to grow closer?




*I received Kathi Lipp’s book in exchange for this honest review
**blogging friend Warren Baldwin has been posting a series on great marriage books


Friday, April 23, 2010

One Question Friday











Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.










It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.










One earth-shattering, life-changing thought or hundreds of solid, good thoughts?

*check back on Monday when I review The Marriage Project by Kathi Lipp
**photos by flickr

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I 8 Wednesdays—Basic Tips for Querying

I 8 Wednesday again, this time with query tips...
  1. Get the agent’s name right. Even better, do your research. Learn what they represent, who they represent and what they like to read. It’s worth it, you’re hoping to enter into a strong working relationship, finding these things out will only prove beneficial in the long run.

  2. KISS (Keep it simple and short). I’ve read the sweet spot is between 400-500 words.

  3. Include genre and word count. For genre, do not write fiction novel. Don’t bother to hit send if work isn’t complete and polished.

  4. Follow the submission guidelines.

  5. Make sure your voice comes through. Your goal is to entice the agent, making it so they crave to read more. Think fly fishing. Let that hook fly.

  6. Don’t ask the agent to click on a link. Feel free to add it in your signature, but they’re already busy enough as it is.

  7. Your pitch paragraph should read like back cover copy of book. Study book blurbs to get a feel for how it should sound. No synopsis writing this time.

  8. Provide all of your contact information.

Bonus tip: Whatever you do, never…I mean never bust into an agent’s office with your manuscript in your trembling hands singing in your donkey voice, “I want you to want me…I need you to need me.” This will not bode well for you. In fact, this won’t bode well for anybody.

Resources:
Nathan Bransford’s advice
Rachelle Gardner's advice
Over 100 posts addressing queries on Kristin Nelson’s blog

I also really like what James Scott Bell summed up about queries in The Art of War for Writers. There are hundreds of books on this topic.

Any tips or resources to share? Now’s the time…

*photos by flickr

Monday, April 19, 2010

Skinny or Fat?

“Mom, am I skinny or fat?” My six-year-old daughter asked just before we stepped out of the car for her first soccer game this weekend.

Yow. Zer!

Six. Years. Old.

“You’re healthy,” I replied, stammering, still in shock from her comment— spoken innocently from my slender, sports-driven child—the child who’d opt for a strawberry over a cookie any day of the week.

Where is a six-year-old being fed these thoughts—in kindergarten? I have a healthy perspective when it comes to food and the body so I doubt she’s heard me complaining or worrying. (Thanks be to God.)

But it hasn’t always been this way and if you’re a woman, I’m guessing you can relate…

I’ve cycled through just about every attitude about my weight and body image.

To rattle off the list for you: I’ve obsessively weighed myself, gorged to feed emotions, I became addicted to running for over a ten year span and have deprived myself of food in order to lose weight. I’ve counted calories and assessed fat grams. I can easily list the top five healthiest foods. I know all about portion control, good fats vs. bad fats…etc.

In other words…I’ve been there and done that when it comes to a warped way—even an obsessive way of viewing my body. It didn’t help in my prepubescent to early teen years I listened to an older sister as she berated me, high on her drug of choice, daily yelling at me how fat I was. It carried more impact when she spit out four letter words with her insults.

Our culture splashes around enough lies about body image without my needing to get more lies crammed into my brain. So many lies out there.

For too long I believed the lies.

But I delight in food now and in exercise. I enjoy both. I don’t deprive and I don’t gorge. I no longer fall into the same traps I did over a dozen years ago. In my late high school/ college years I weighed twenty pounds more than I do now. Those were some of the most confusing years for me when it came to eating and exercise. That time period marked the beginning of my obsession with running, resulting in little body/weight change for years because of an undetected thyroid disease.

I know where the seeds of weak body image got planted in my thoughts. I wish I could identify what sprouted that question in my daughter’s brain. After discussing it with her she explained she doesn’t even know where the question came from.

So many lies and confusing messages out there.


It’s my prayer she’ll learn sooner than I did how to treat her body with respect, how to treat it as the temple it is. And at the same time, I hope that in viewing her body as a temple, she’ll also come to understand as I have, the body is merely a shell, a vessel…Who we are pulses from our Spirit.

Have you ever believed any of the lies out there about body image?




*photos by flickr

Friday, April 16, 2010

One Question Friday












Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.















It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Which do you enjoy reading more…

Commercial or Literary Fiction?



*photos by flickr

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I 8 Wednesdays--Pride Mountain

It’s a seductive hike. I’ve trekked it. And I’m going divulge one of my greatest fears about sending my name out in the world in this pursuit to be published—that His name would slide underfoot with the moss and leaves as I follow the trail.

I’m referring to the Sherpa-led pathway up Pride Mountain. This is one Sherpa you don’t want to follow. It’s the deceptive voice whispering in your ear any and all success you’ve garnered is because of your prowess, your diligence…your strength. Your giftedness. And while you may be incredibly devoted to your talents, pouring hours of effort into your craft daily, the Sherpa consistently reminds you you’ve almost reached the mountain peak—urging you to keep going. You’ve almost conquered. Mixing truth with lies, he tells you all credit goes to your legs, your determination, your keen sense of direction, and your knowledge stretching from East to West.

May I be held accountable whenever I climb so far up Pride Mountain I’ve lost sight of The Giver of All Gifts.

Last week in Bible study our pastor’s wife (one authentic woman) gave us a list she found online (sorry, I don’t have a reference) revealing some eye-opening symptoms of pride. It certainly made me rethink some ways I live…

Symptoms of Pride:

>Are your feelings hurt easily?

>Does it irritate you when people don’t agree with you?

>Does it really bother you when someone corrects your mistakes?

>Do you find yourself giving more criticisms more than compliments? Are you often critical of other people and pointing out their faults and failures, rather than their good points?

>If someone has hurt you or done you wrong in the past, do you hold bitterness and resentment against the person?

>Do you seek praise for things over which you have no control?

>Do you feel offended or not appreciated when not given credit for something you have done?

>Do you often compete or compare yourself with someone else? Are you always trying to do better or have more than some other particular person?


“I lift my eyes my eyes up to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber…” Psalms 121: 1-3




*photos by flickr

Monday, April 12, 2010

Booking a Vacation


In many ways reading a good book can be just as replenishing as taking a vacation.

Here are some similarities I’ve found between reading an enticing book and going on vacation:

* While reading a book, you meet people you might not ordinarily convene with.

* You learn about exotic and unusual locations and potentially new customs and social codes.

* Depending on the voice of the author, you might find yourself surrounded by a whole new way of speaking/communicating as you read.

* It’s easy to spend hours swept up in another world.

* Your brain feels satisfied and relaxed.

* You stay up later than usual, immersed in the newness and escape of it all.

* Routine worries and distractions fade into the distance.

How about you—booked a vacation recently?






photos by flickr

Friday, April 9, 2010

Encouragement


We interrupt the regularly scheduled One Question Friday for this:

Recently I received one of the greatest compliments of my life and here’s the kicker, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.

A living and active God—who has gifted me with encouragement—who has gifted me with words.

Reading this post by Mark Sayers encourages me in ways I cannot explain during this time of grief (the link on his blog shoots you back to a book review I wrote here at All in a Day’s Thought, several days ago for The Vertical Self). What a reminder of how God works in His children, using us to glorify Him even when we don’t realize that is what we’re doing.

This is such a beautiful cyclical example of God’s Spirit at work, I hope you’ll take the time to click to read more about The White Stone (and feel free to scroll your curser down a bit to read my book review to understand more).

How have you been encouraged in faith lately?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I 8 Wednesdays—TV Shows

Every Wednesday I’ll give you a list of eight. This Wednesday I’m divulging eight TV shows that captured my attention for extended periods of time.

Family Ties
The Cosby Show
The Wonder Years
Santa Barbara
Beverly Hills 90201 (I never said I wouldn’t be embarrassed sharing these)
Oprah
Friends
LOST


*photos by flickr

Monday, April 5, 2010

Delicious Reads

I’m reading some good stuff and I plan to give you a one sentence wrap up to flesh out the good of each book.

The Marriage Project by Kathi Lipp
This book is unique from all other books on marriage I’ve read and the first hook was the playful and encouraging way the author writes.
~~
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Can you say expert on writing enticing characters starting page one, continuing, continuing…?
~~
Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert
Katie clearly has poured effort into making every sentence pop…an intentional practice.

Esther by Beth Moore
After what, 8 or 9 of her studies, it never gets old—the lady is anointed (Esther and Beth).
~~
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
I’m soaking up every word (and underlining just about every other word) as I delve into rich wisdom from a writing guru.

Noble Efforts to Engulf the Moon by Wendy Paine Miller
I wrote it, I owe it to myself and the characters to keep working out the kinks.

The Bible
It really doesn’t get any better than this.

*I have an article
here at Sage Girls Ministry
** and my column
here at Exemplify
***photos by flickr

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Good




Friday
*photos by flickr

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers


*Special Thursday Book Review*

When trying to discern who you are, do you look around you or do you look to the One who holds the answer? In The Vertical Self, Sayers plunges the depths of how easy it is to manipulate image in today’s culture. As though pulling from a deck of cards you can select a “cool” image, a “glamorous” one or perhaps something “sexy.”

He writes, “Welcome to the world in which we are told we can be anyone we want to be, where identity is no longer based in sense of self but rather in the imagery we choose at any particular moment.”

Sayers examines what it means to be defined by horizontal impressions, what the world thinks of you versus understanding who you are in an all-loving, holy, vertical relationship with God.

I appreciated the refreshingly honest perspective throughout The Vertical Self. In this age of Facebook, Twitter, blogs and profuse access to reinventing self and playing with image as though it’s a puzzle, Sayers holds Christians to account, reminding us where our foundation is and who we can trust.

I love this next paragraph so much I have to quote it for you. It has special meaning to me because two weeks ago I said good-bye to my father. Walking through the hospital door seeing my father in his brain-dead condition was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I pulled a small white rock from my purse and placed it in his unresponsive hand. Between sobs, I reminded him that he’d be getting a new name soon.

The next day we took him off the ventilator. Thankfully he passed quickly, clutching Jesus as he left this world…perhaps reading or hearing his beautiful new name for the first time.

Sayers writes, “I think I now understand in some small way how God feels as he sees us. Probably we initially appear to him like a newborn baby—messy and covered in goo and muck. But he looks beyond all that. He lifts our faces; he looks deep into our eyes and sees the image of God, the potential for shalom. He sees us fully redeemed, exactly as he designed us when he knitted us in our mother’s wombs. This is why he calls out to you. He is beckoning you from the future to become your true self. He holds in his hand a white rock with your true name on it.”


*little did I know when I wrote this post for Exemplify weeks ago I'd be going through my own grief when it posted