"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

12/31/10

Finds for Fridays: December 31



YUP - the LAST Finds for Fridays of the year. I am DEFINITELY keeping this up. I SO enjoy doing it, and love giving others a horn toot. :)

Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And now...here they are!

A Thousand Marbles by Joy Bach at Life Moments (about precious time slipping away)

No More by Mari LaVell at A Mari Heart (about resolutions and sinning no more)

Someone Who Perfectly Complements Me by Tricia Goyer at It's Real Life (about spouses and balancing each other out)

Be sure to stop by these posts and check them out - and maybe even follow the blogs. You won't be disappointed!

Blessings, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/30/10

Did You Know That...

My grandfather was a cantor?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles?

I grew up in a Jewish home and was Bat Miztvahed at age 13?

I dated a Filipino Catholic for three years?

The beginning of my faith journey was a newspaper reporter assignment?

Yes, all those facts are true, and are just a part of my journey toward Christ. My dear friend Christy McGraw has an occasional feature at her blog Critty Joy called "Journey With," and she has graciously allowed me to share my story there today. Would love to have you stop by there and hear some more facts about me you may (or may not) know. And check out her blog too - it's a delight.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/27/10

Of Goals and Themes: 2011

I'm over at the Internet Cafe' this week, at the family counter, talking about goals, and how to set them with your kids. Check out Goal Setting: It Can Be A Family Affair--it IS that time of the year, isn't it?


And SPEAKING of goals, I'm currently working on putting mine together for 2011. Watch for them in a post on January 1 (and if you check out my cafe' post, just know I WILL be following my own advice!).

But I wanted to give you maybe a HINT of what I might be thinking--cuz I just (as in within the past day) figured out what my theme verse will be for this year.

myspace layouts
Those of you who have been following this blog for a while (or who just peeked at my sidebar ::roll::) probably realize that my theme verse for 2010 was Philippians 4:13, reminding me that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. And my mascot, if you will, was my dear, muscly friend who I named Gideon. Whenever I looked over at him, I laughed, and remembered that despite the fact that I am definitely not a muscular lady, God gives me the strength to do what His will for me is--if only I will step out and do it.


But I had a bit of a problem this year, you see. I spent a bit too much time choosing what I wanted to work on and not enough remembering what I was SUPPOSED to be focusing on.

My main issue, you see, was balance. And it was my house, in all honesty, that was missing out. And probably my family to some extent. And likely some other projects or opportunities to bless others that I wasn't listening for because I spent too much time "sucked into" what I thought I was supposed to be doing.

Yes - I'm a writer (and proofreader) -- and I feel called to do both these things. But first, I am a child of the King, a wife to my husband, a mother to my children, and a keeper of my home. And I need to be sure my focus reflects that.

So, without further ado, my theme verse for 2011 will be:
Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. 1 Corinthians 7:17 NIV (emphasis mine)
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 And my mascot? These lovely flowers, which will remind me (hopefully!) that I must, as they say, bloom where I am planted--and take special note of exactly what that means in EACH area of my life.

So, there you go. Why don't you hop over to my cafe post and see what you think, then head back here a bit later in the week to see how I put those goal-making tips to good use?

Are you thinking ahead to 2011? Any thoughts/plans/goals?

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/25/10

Our Savior is Born

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Praying you are having a blessed, beautiful, Christ-filled Christmas.

And now for my disclaimer. I KNOW the song below isn't Biblically sound (there may have been more than three magi - not kings - and they did NOT meet Jesus in the manger), but it is absolutely, positively gorgeous and has a wonderful message regardless. So please listen.






Merry Christmas, my dear friends. Thanks for stopping by.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/24/10

Finds For Fridays: December 24



Finds for Fridays
is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And now...here they are!

The Human Side of Christmas by Tracy Knowlton at Internet Cafe Devotions (about Mary's perceptions carrying the Christ child)

Will All Good Writers be Published? By Rachelle Gardner at Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent (an agent's perspective)

The Longest Night by Lynn Diener at The Blog of D. L. Diener (about the struggling at Christmas)

Triaging Rejection Pain by Laurie Halse Anderson at The Debutante Ball (about dealing with rejection)

Kneeling by Elaine Olsen at Peace for the Journey (about those who come alongside)

So, there ya go! Be sure to drop by these over when you get a chance--and maybe even follow the blogs. You won't be sorry.

And Happy Christmas Eve! Keep Jesus in your hearts :)


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/23/10

My first Christmas in Michigan

The Barn DoorYes, it's the day before, the day before Christmas, and I'm thinking back to my very first Christmas in Michigan. I was still living in California at the time, but my hubby and I were engaged, and he brought me home for Christmas.

Until then, I'd always been a sunny Southern California girl, but on that trip, I learned that I would likely not turn into an ice cube--or worse--if I moved to the Midwest.

Want more info? Check out my post at The Barn Door today, where I share When I Knew I Could Live In Michigan. It's a fun little story. Hope you stop by!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/20/10

Waiting

Patience is a fruit of the spirit that is slowly ripening in me (fitting, don't you think, that it wouldn't show up quickly?). I think it's that way for most folks - and maybe even for most of the fruit. I am getting better at waiting as I grow in Christ.

And that's something I need to remember, especially this time of year. You see, I've been saved for almost 12 years. My kids? They've been ALIVE for less than that.

And, yanno, it's less than a week before Christmas. Can I REALLY blame them for wanting to know exactly what we got them? For hoping that presents can be opened yesterday instead of in four days? For wanting to celebrate Jesus' birthday now instead of later?

This is, after all, the season of Advent--of celebrating Christ's first arrival on earth, and anticipating His second. We're supposed to be anxious, waiting with eager anticipation for this celebration, and the celebration to come when He returns for His Church.

And you know, maybe I'm not quite as patient as I thought I was. I'm pretty excited about our Savior's return, and about celebrating his coming. But I can wait. :)


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/17/10

Metamorphosis (Friday Fiction)

If you're looking for Finds for Fridays, either scroll down one or click here.



Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by the dear, sweet, wonderful Catrina at A Work in Progress! Make sure that you  link up there with your own fiction below. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!),  check out the links at her blog.
This was my entry for the last FaithWriters' Writing Challenge - my first entry in almost six months. The topic was Billboard/Sign/Poster. I was gonna hold off and post this another time, but the hostess herself requested I post it now, so here it is. This piece is unlike anything I've written before. Didn't do well in the challenge, but that's all right. Would love your feedback.

METAMORPHOSIS

I hated looking at it. But I couldn't stop.

Every single time I drove that way, my eyes would lock on the picture, and I'd stop the car. I had each inch of it memorized. I could have drawn it myself, in my sleep. I didn't need to glance that way to know exactly what was there. It was permanently plastered in my consciousness.

She was beautiful. No—that word didn't do her justice. She was stunning. Breathtaking. Sensual yet innocent. A woman of any man's dreams. No wonder her face was out for the world to see.

I felt my stomach turn. In a way, I was jealous. Now everybody could see her. They knew how bright her smile was, and how silky her hair looked. They could see her seventeen freckles: eight on her left cheek, six on her right, and three on her nose. The could see the deep blue of her eyes, and how the lashes on her right eye were shorter than the ones on her left.

But on the other hand, I was glad to have it there. I could look at her any time I wanted, and her face would never change. I wouldn't see her frown. Her hair would always be in place, and she would always have that rosy glow on her cheeks. She wouldn't groan. Each time I looked up at the image, she looked perfect.

I wondered who had paid to have that billboard put up. Women like her weren't usually put on display like this. Sometimes there might be an article in the paper, or even a blurb on the local news. But a billboard? Not normally. Someone must love her a lot, and have a whole ton of money, to get that up there.

“I wonder if there's a reward.” Don't know why I said it out loud. Maybe I was hoping someone would answer me. But there was nobody around, and even if there had been, the car windows were rolled up tight.

I read the words above her head again. Have you seen this woman? Some day, someone may ask me that question, and I'd have to shrug my shoulders and say yes. And I'd wring my hands and lower my eyes, and tell them she didn't look like that anymore. Her hair wasn't silky. Her cheeks were pale. And the sparkle in her eyes? It was gone too.

I'd ruined her. She had been so beautiful, and I'd ruined her. But when I saw her that day, I just wanted to keep her for myself—to let nobody else have her.

So I took her. But she changed. I suppose I'm the one who changed her. She told me she didn't want to stay, that she didn't want to be near me. But I didn't let her go.

And now she wasn't that girl on the billboard anymore. The glow was gone. Her smile was different—the few times I saw it anymore. And I knew, somehow, that no matter what I did, she would never be that way again.

But she still had those freckles. All seventeen of them. But they were fading. Even those would be gone eventually.

I grabbed a pen from the glove box and looked up at the billboard one more time. I wrote the phone number on my hand, started the car again, and drove away.

**

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by A Work In Progress for more great fiction!

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

Finds for Fridays, December 17



Finds for Fridays
is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And now...here they are!

I'm Being Good, Mama by Jan Ackerson at Empty Wombs (about the pain of infertility)

Surviving the Unthinkable by Elaine Cooper at Reflections in Hindsight (about coping with a loss dear to you)

Blessed to Receive by Mary Hampton at Internet Cafe Devotions Family Counter (about appreciating our gifts)

Tamales on Christmas Eve by Nathan Bransford at Nathan Bransford-Author (about the history of a family tradition)

Southern Snow Friendships by Christy McGraw at Critty Joy (about friendship)

Lighting up the dark this Christmas By Lynda Schab at On The Write Track (about serving others this season)

12 Days of Christmas: Day 12 By Sara Harricharan at Fiction Fusion (a story based on a crazy Christmas song)

Well - there's a bit of everything here - interesting, hysterical, poignant, and thought-provoking. Hope you stop by and enjoy these, and maybe even follow the blogs. You won't be sorry.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/14/10

Some Cooollllldddd Fun ;)

Wanted to put up some sort of post today, but I couldn't decide what to write about...until my friend Michelle posted something on Facebook that literally made me laugh out loud.

And that, of course, made me decide to try to get some MORE laughs for my day. But first, some inspiration:


Okay - so you're in the cold mood, right?

Now, finish this sentence: It's so cold outside...,


I'll give you two - the first being the one that "started it all":

It's so cold outside that teens at the mall are pulling their pants up! (still laughing about this one, Michelle!)
And now mine, which PALES in comparison: It's so cold outside I stepped in the freezer to warm up.
 
How about you? Let's make each other laugh!
 





Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/13/10

Old, New Noises (find the spiritual lesson?)

In the past week or so, my house has been making strange sounds. Actually, to be more precise, I've been HEARING them for the past week or so. I'd guess they've always been there, but I didn't realize it.

We haven't lived in our current house too terribly long--just eight months. But one would probably think that if my house made odd noises, I would have noticed before now. But I didn't. And there's actually a logical explanation for it.

You see, up until a week ago last Saturday, we had a cat. Her name was Squeak (because that was the only sound she made), and she had free range of the house. She climbed  and perched in likely every corner of this house, making all kinds of "exploring noises" as she went - patters, crunches (of paper and other things she might have been stepping on), rubs, and creaks.

Well, last Saturday, we took Squeak to the vet because she just wasn't herself. In fact, it ended up she was so sick we had to put her down. None of us were very happy about this (Marc and I got her as a kitten just a couple years into our marriage, so we've had her almost as long as we've had each other), but we've adjusted.

But for the past week, I've heard noises coming from various parts of the house. My first thought is always, "Oh, Squeak is wandering around," but it can't be her. I'll be sitting alone in my chair--the kids at school, my husband napping--and I hear it. No possibility it could be anybody else.

So, I'm convinced these noises have been happening since we moved in--I just didn't notice them because I assumed they were Squeak. The noises were there--I just had a logical rationale for what was causing them.

And now it's confession time: I KNOW there must be a very cool spiritual principle in here somewhere, but today, it's not coming to me. So that's where you come in. What's YOUR takeaway from my little story here? There may just be a bit of a surprise for someone who comments with the best "moral of the story." (You have until Friday, by the way)


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/10/10

Finds for Fridays: December 10, 2010



Finds for Fridays
is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And now...here they are!

The World's Worst Boss By Seth Godin at Seth's blog (about being your own boss)

Growing Generosity in Your Kids at Christmas by Tim Elmore at Michael Hyatt's blog (about changing the tone of Christmas)

I Hate My Book! by Rachelle Gardner at Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent (about that feeling of wanting to toss your MS out the window)

Surviving by Writing Multiple Sub-Genres by Jennifer Hudson Taylor at Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor (about spreading your wings as a published author)

Leaky Faucets by Melissa Mashburn at 5 Minutes for Faith (about nonsense)

Hope you stop by and enjoy these posts - and maybe even subscribe to the blogs. You will be blessed!

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/9/10

Different Kinds of Snow

Many of you know I was born and raised in Southern California and am now living in Michigan.

Contrary to popular belief, I did NOT see my first snow when I moved to the Midwest. I saw, and spent time in, it in my very own state - even in the southern portion. But it was a very different experience than what I had once I moved to Michigan.

If you want to know how, pop on over to The Barn Door, where I'm posting about my... um...lack of knowledge regarding the white stuff when I was a California girl. Check out Clueless in Santa Barbara: But Not Anymore. You might even have a laugh at my expense.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/7/10

Standing on My Platform

A friend of mine said something about me the other day that surprised me. On the FaithWriters' Message Boards, she said "when I think of a master platform builder, I think of Joanne."

I'm going to admit that I was absolutely astounded when she said this. In fact, until she asked folks what they did to build their platform, I had never really thought about what I was doing as creating an audience for myself--at least not much. But then I sat down and listed those things, and realized that it's certainly helping increase my "footprint." And maybe some day it will help me get a book sold.

I know that there can be controversy about tooting your own horn, especially in Christian publishing, but being friendly comes naturally to me, and encouraging others is a part of who I am. And both of these things are excellent ways to get your name out.

So, what do I do?
  • I scan over 100 blogs daily, reading ones that interest me and commenting on some (google reader is a great tool for this)
  • .I blog here regularly
  • I have my blog linked to networked blogs, and make a point of inviting folks to follow it as they become my Facebook friend.
  • I have a Facebook account - both a personal one and a writer one.
  • I highlight OTHER PEOPLE'S writing, both here on my blog and in the cheering section at the FaithWriters' Message boards
  • I have a twitter account and use it (not as much as some, but I DO use it ;))
  • I guest blog at other people's blogs when I can
  • I am a monthly or bimonthly contributor to two different group blogs (Internet Cafe Devotions and The Barn Door)
Do I spend too much time on on platform? Perhaps. But balance is not my specialty. But I'm guessing that at some point it will pay off. And I imagine it already has--though not financially. Through "building my audience," I have met some incredibly wonderful, Godly folks who have blessed me beyond belief. And I hope I have done the same for some of them.

And if this is gonna help me get God's message (through me) out to "the world," I certainly wouldn't complain.

So, how do you feel about building your platform? Is this something you're working on? What are you doing?


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/6/10

Worthy Words (Monday Manna)

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

Today's verse has fascinated me since my BFF Peejers pointed it out to me.
Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. Jeremiah 15:19
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Mine are below.

**

I love words.

This probably isn't earth-shattering news to most of you. I imagine most writers are at least mildly fond of them. It's rather difficult to write without them, and though much can be communicated with grunts, body language and other such methods, words certainly make life a lot easier when you're trying to get a precise message across verbally.

Because I love words so much, I use them. A LOT. I'm what many call talkative. (the polite ones, anyway) And it's amazing what comes out of my mouth. Good, bad, indifferent. Things I wish I could engrave in stone. Words I would do anything take back. Lies. Half-truths. Insults. Words meant to hurt. Those meant to heal. Wonderful words. Worthless ones.
11/27/10 UK Pictures, Images and Photos
Yet, I am God's child: a witness to and for Him on earth. And what I say to some folks is exactly how they will perceive my God. Someone once said something like this: "You are the only Bible some people will every read."

God wants me--all of His children, actually--to be His spokesman. But what kind of an advertisement are we for Him when we speak words that harm, when we lie, when our words are worthless?  I would rather NOT be God's spokesman if my words aren't worthy.

Yet, those who know I am His--especially skeptics--will see me that way.
So I must speak worthy words so I can be a worthy spokesman for the One who has done all for me.

And so I pray...
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
I hope this is your prayer as well.

**

Thanks for reading! Please link up below, and read the posts there. I'm sure you will be blessed.




Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/3/10

Finds For Fridays: December 3


Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And now...here they are!


Winter's White by Elaine Olsen at peace for the journey (about  God backing us up, and going ahead)

The Slower Plan by Terri Tiffany at Terri Tiffany, Inspirational Writer (about on a train or riding the waves)

Willing by Heidi at Adding Zest to your Nest (about being in love to be perfected)


"Okay" Doesn't Cut it by Lynda Schultz at Grains of Sand (about praying for perfection)

Comparison Doesn't Work by Rachelle Gardner at Rachelle Gardener, Literary Agent (about the problem with comparing your own writing speed, etc. to others)

Be sure to check out these posts, and maybe even follow the blogs. You won't be sorry if you do!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/2/10

Spokesman: Monday Manna for December 6, 2010

First of all - if you haven't seen it, I had one of my old devotionals over at the FaithWriters' Blog yesterday. If you wanna see how God turns mountains into roads, check it out!



The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

I'll be honest. My brain was FRIED today. I had NO idea what verse to pick, so I asked my dear dear friend (who must have the unfried half of my brain today LOL) Patty "Peejers" Wysong for a verse for this week, and this was one of the two she gave me. WOW.
Therefore this is what the LORD says:
   “If you repent, I will restore you
   that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
   you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
   but you must not turn to them. Jeremiah 15:19

Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about this verse. I'll be pondering too. See you Monday!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

12/1/10

Out with November...in with December

december Pictures, Images and PhotosCan it REALLY be the last month of 2010? I'm in denial, apparently, but the calendar won't let me stay there.

Yup. It's definitely December 1, and of course you know what that means. Time to look at last month's goals, and set some new ones.

So, here are my November goals, directly from last month's post.
  1. Keep up with fixes on my Ailing Body, Nourished Soul edit, with the hope of having it ready to submit to the agent's assistant as soon as humanly possible (can I dream of before December??)
  2. Finish outlining Handmaiden to a Princess and get, say, at least 5k words written
  3. Continue my reading habit (i.e. finish Blue Like Play Dough and at least start another book)
  4. Three blog posts minimum a week
  5. Enter the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge in November
Well, I did all right. I DID keep up with the edit fixes, but we're only halfway through. Still hoping to finish before the end of the month, but December is notoriously busy for everyone, so we'll see. I did finish my Handmaiden to a Princess outline, and did SOME writing - though I didn't quite make 5k. I did manage 2,600, however, so I'm not complaining.

I also kept up with my reading habit - finished "Blue Like Play Dough," started and finished "Rooms" (quite good!), and started "Snow Day." I'm pretty confident my reading habit is set, so this item is going off my goal list. I also managed more than three blog posts a week, but did NOT enter the challenge.

So, like I said, I didn't do too bad. But now it's time to move on to DECEMBER (I really will believe it eventually LOL).

My goals for this month are:
  1.  Keep up with fixes on my Ailing Body, Nourished Soul edit, with the hope of having it ready to submit to the agent's assistant as soon as humanly possible
  2. Submit the first 25 pages of Handmaiden to a Princess to the Great Expectations contest.
  3. Add 5,000 words to Handmaiden to a Princess
  4. Three blog posts minimum a week
  5. Enter the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge in December
So, that sounds doable, yet challenging during this busy time of year. Thank for reading and encouraging me, folks! Means a LOT!




Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

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