Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Best Gifts

This morning, as I was dressing my toddler, I noticed the radio station we love was playing Christmas music. What a treat! It's Spirit 105.3 out of the Seattle area and since I've already begun drifting into the Christmas spirit, I couldn't help smiling.

There's a thread today on one of the writer's loops I belong to about making personalized gifts. Great ideas were coming through. One of the themes was the advice of letting your loved ones know how much you love them. The more I "grow up" (grin), the more I appreciate the intangible gifts. Knowing I'm loved is near the top of the list. Loving on others is, too.

So, as you plan for the holidays, let yourself muse on the affection you have for your family. Feed those thoughts, rather than any irritations. Family is one of God's best gifts.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Special guest: Jodie Westfall, Photographer

Hey everyone. Because I believe in going after your dreams, and because when I met today's guest I sensed she was right in the midst of the roller coaster ride that is pursuing your dreams, I wanted to feature her here for inspiration. Jodie is a warm and cheerful person and I enjoyed meeting her. She is the official American Christian Fiction Writer's photographer and was on hand at the conference in 2007, taking individual author/editor/agent shots by appointment, as well as candid group shots at will. Welcome, Jodie.

(BTW, the photo of me which now graces my blog was taken by Jodie.) I've sprinkled her work throughout.

How long ago did you discover photography was fun?

I have had a camera in my hand as long as I can remember! I was always the one in school that had pictures to share with everyone. I loved taking pictures and watching the person smile when they flipped through them. And I guess you could say those were my first published photos – the yearbook!

Would you consider yourself an artistic person? And do you enjoy other creative pastimes?

I don’t think I have ever stopped to think about it from that perspective, however, I have began to really listen to what others are saying about my work – and that word “artist” keeps popping up in the conversation.

Unless you consider hanging out with your family as a creative pastime; those are the two loves of my life!

How long did you dream of becoming a professional photographer?

As long as I can remember! I have always wanted to be a photographer, but fear stood in my way! I was afraid it would take me away from my family, that I would work most weeknights and weekends. And then working on strictly commission scared me to death!

What made you decide to go for it?

I reached a point in life – maybe some would call it a mid-life crisis!! My kids were both attending college, my husband had left the corporate world and began pursuing his passion, teaching and coaching kids in school, and I began to really think of what was stopping me from at least trying to seek my passion! And I began to pray and I feel as though I was being obedient, that for some reason, this is where I am supposed to be. And I thought, ok –start with a small goal, buy the camera that would help you and just try to pay for it!

Where is God in your dreams? (in other words, how has He affected your choices and/or encouraged you?)

I felt God nudging me all the way –everything began to fall into place as if all the avenues found me and I wasn’t asking too many questions and the answers fell in my lap! For example, I stopped each and every morning to buy coffee on my way to my “other job.” I would talk about the possibility of starting my business; she would say you just light up when you talk about photography, would you be interested in taking my son’s wedding pictures? I was so surprised, I said SURE! She said the bride’s mom has a photographer, but would you do this for me? I couldn’t resist! Then my web designer was a true God send – she led me every step of the way – she saw my vision and just did a remarkable job to make it all come together.

I believe God has encouraged me in so many ways, by my daughter and husband actually assisting me with photo shoots and that has been one of the highlights – working with my family! My daughter has actually been the second shooter and it is so amazing to work with her at weddings, conferences etc.

And, by the way -- my camera…my small goal…. was paid for within the first year!

What advice do you have for other hopeful photographers? And for fellow dreamers?

I strongly believe that God places the dreams within us and if we would let go and really listen to Him, He will provide the way for us to follow our dreams. So don’t give up, keep pushing forward it is His timing and not ours!

How can people contact you for your work?

That is easy – email, telephone or visit my website and click on the Contact icon.


Thank you for visiting, Jodie. It was a pleasure meeting you at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference this year and thank you for the pictures! You are an artist! God bless you in the pursuit of your dreams!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Such Grace!

This verse is quoted below today in the CWO "Daily Snippets" box.

Blessed is the one whom You choose, and cause to come near You. He shall dwell in Your courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4, MKJV)

Our pastor reminded us last night at church that in the Old Testament, God poured out His special attention on a select few: Moses, David, Joseph, Isaiah, etc. But, in the New Covenant, His presence is for "whosoever will." Whoever will pursue Him wholeheartedly will find Him. His sheep hear His voice, and becoming a sheep is a matter of "whosoever will."

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NKJV)

Whoever believes... Are you one of the ones who believes? You don't have to be left out. Not this time. You may have felt left out at other times in your life, but not this time. Just say yes to Him.

Last night, during worship, I agreed to do something the Lord had been asking me to do. I prayed and gave Him a "yes," as weak as I felt. Immediately His presence visited me. He's looking for willingness.

Are you willing?

Friday, October 19, 2007

A fun exercise

I just did an encouraging exercise.

Waiting can be hard. I have several writing projects awaiting word from publishers and editors. Meanwhile, I keep working on current projects. But today, I needed a pick-me-up. So I reminded myself of past publications.

Affirmation comes in different shapes. Is there some activity you can do that will encourage you as you keep chasing your dreams in the Lord? Remember past victories? Call a friend and relive good moments? Pray through your anxieties and let God minister hope and peace to you? If you've written down His promises, just re-reading them will help. Whatever it is, the reassurance will go a long way toward catapulting you forward.

Take the time to do it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Zero Hundred Hours

I know very little about military time, but recently I was on a retreat and the digital clock in my room was set to military time. I didn't want to mess with it, so I left it at that setting.

Ever worked through a whole day on military time? Midnight rolls around and what does it look like? 0:00--Foreign, at least to me. Like time has just started over again. Since midnight does officially indicate a new day has begun, seeing 0:00 drove home the truth that each new day ushers in a new set of opportunities and possibilities for positive changes in life.

I know someone who for years hasn't been their optimal weight. But this year decided to make some changes--going to the gym and eating better and what do you know? This person is now down five sizes. Every new day offers a new opportunity for change. Then, it's just a matter of sticking with it. That first step takes you halfway there. You're moving in the right direction.

Also, staring at the 0:00 for several seconds, I was reminded of God's mercies being new every morning.

Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV)

So, even if I totally failed yesterday, I can still pick up, start a new day and move forward with hope. God is patiently changing me from the inside out and I'll take his hand again.

Thank God for new days, new starts and new life.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Guest Author: Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer has just released a nonfiction book for teens about not just letting life happen to them, but making decisions before they have to make choices. Here’s how she describes her new book: my life, unscripted

Drawing on Biblical principles, My Life, Unscripted guides girls through the tumultuous teen years by teaching them to have a plan of attack before temptation or hardship come.

Tricia's Script: (She uses a fun sort of “script” format for the entire book.)

Looking back at my drama-filled teen years I now wonder ... What was I thinking?

The truth? I wasn't. I lived from day to day on every wave of emotion. Some days excitement and passion partnered up, pattering wildly within my heart.

Other days, depression and anxiety were my silent friends. I lived each day as it came, with no plan for my future, for my relationships, or for my heart.

I lived my life completely unscripted ... and, well, it didn't go well for me. Teen pregnancy and a broken heart were only two consequences. Yet my prayer is that when teen girls are asked Who's Writing Your Life? their answer will be ME ... with the guidance of God, My Director.

Here’s an interview:

Q: Tell me about My Life, Unscripted

Sure! With real-life scripts, screenwriting terms, and timely topics, My Life, Unscripted helps teen girls explore their own inner struggles and outward relationships. It's my hope they'll learn the importance of "scripting" their own responses BEFORE challenging life-situations arise.

By contrasting real-life with TV/movies, it's my hope that teen girls will understand they don't have to get caught up in the drama. They don't have to face situations as they arise, but rather they can think about, pray about, and consider how to face these situations before they hit the big screen of their lives.

Q: Is it true that much of YOUR story shows up in these pages?

Gulp. Yes, I'm afraid so. In fact, I shared parts of my story that I SWORE I'd never tell a soul.

My teenage script (portrayed in the book as Trish Valley) wasn't one I'd suggest my daughter, nor my readers to copy.

Q: Tell me about these scripts.

The introductory script of Trish Valley shows a scene where Trish urges her mom to follow Trish's boyfriend into the McDonald's parking lot so she can "spill her news." The other girl in the car and her boyfriend's response to Trish's pregnancy are unfortunately not fiction. I wrote out the scenes as they would appear in an actual script. I even use all the correct terms and layout.

Q: In addition to teen pregnancy, what are some of the other "scripts"?

Do I have to tell? Well, I guess it's in print now! Let me see: fist fights with a rival, sneaking out of my parents' house, getting caught by my boyfriend kissing his best friend--does that give you an idea? Do I have to go on?

Q: No, you can stop there. But WHY? Why did you decide to share these stories?

First, because I want girls to understand the heartache of unwise decisions. I want them to be able to relate to me, rather than feeling preached at. Also, I wanted to share my stories because many young women have faced the same type of situations, or they know friends who have. And finally because they are great object lessons for the importance of following biblical truth. That is something I did learn!

Q: What does your teenage daughter think about this book?

Leslie thinks it's great I'm able to connect with other teens. She's heard these stories for a while! She was 11-years-old when we first started volunteering together at a support group for teenage mothers. As I taught the young moms things like nutrition and potty training, Leslie assisted adults in babysitting the toddlers. And while we loved giving and serving, it was the ride home that soon became the most meaningful part. As Leslie sat in the passenger's seat, I could see her mind considering my life as a teen mom, and she started asking questions.

Although it was hard to talk about my past mistakes, I knew this was an ideal opportunity to share real-life truths with my daughter. Each person walking this earth has regrets. Our talks showed me that instead of hiding my past troubles (and hoping my kids didn't find out) sharing my mistakes could actually give my daughter a better understanding to why values and wise decision-making skills are important.

Q: So now you're "having a heart-to-heart" with other teens through this book?

I sure hope that's how they see it! Those first talks with my daughter brought us closer, but I knew not every girl has had someone to offer advice such as: "build a supporting cast of people you can trust" or "consider the character qualities you'd like for a leading man."

Q: Okay, so your book is for teens, but what about the moms out there who feel they have past mistakes they don't want to share?

Well, they could each write a book about their teen years! Ha- just kidding!

But for those moms out there, maybe your teen years were not as drama-filled as mine. Or, if they were, maybe you are fearful of sharing them with your teen. The truth is, teens learn best not with information and knowledge, but rather by hearing life examples and understanding how decisions can affect all parts of our lives. So, time to get brave, Mom. Open your heart and share what worked and what didn't. It just might help your daughter write a better script for herself.

Oh, yes, and consider buying your daughter My Life, Unscripted! Hopefully every teen girl can get some take-away to scripting a bright future!


To read a sample chapter, go to this link:

Here’s a little more info about Tricia (whom I just had the pleasure of meeting at the American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference in Dallas a couple of weeks ago.

Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing: From Dust and Ashes (2003); Night Song (2004), Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005); Arms of Deliverance (2006); A Valley of Betrayal (2007); A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007); and A Whisper of Freedom (Spring 2008).

Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and
3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in
Kalispell, Montana. Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Tricia has two books that will be out soon ...

A Shadow of Treason (Moody Publishing), Fall 2007

Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah), January 2008

A very busy woman!

Thank you, Tricia, for stopping by on your busy blog tour. I know this book will help encourage teens to make godly decisions.