Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August Round-Up

Everyone's sayin' it, but I'm gonna say it again: I can't believe it's September already! 
Goodness. Looking back over last month's posts, I was able to smile and remember how good August was to me. It was a very fulfilling month. So in case you missed a post, I chose my "most read" according to the stats + my favorites to write and together they make up August's Round Up. Happy reading! 

The Release of Freedom: Part 1 & Part 2

The Help: A Review from a Fake Feminist

Sundays are for Worship: Antioch Temecula

My Writing Dreams Come True

My 4 Types of Daily Writing

7 Nuggets From My First Blog Conference

#Friday #Follow Readers Edition

One Word Wednesday: Empathy

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sundays are for Worship // Preachy Christians

**This post is more of a confession than an exhortation. It was intended to be a dialogue, and I'm hoping it remains so. Let's just call it an intended encouragement confession conversation. :) All that to say, here we go. 

Christians can be preachy. No surprise there I'm sure. In fact, I think most people have come into contact at some point in their lives with "that Christian" who inevitably turns them off to Christianity. 

I think I was that girl in high school. I didn't realize it until I got married of course. When there's someone in your world 24/7 that sees both good and bad, pretty and ugly of your every day life. And when you get to a level of authenticity and accountability with that person, healthy advice should naturally emerge. Well, with Ty, it did. And he told me, flat out I was being judgmental.

He said it in a loving way of course, but it stung a little. Ok, a lot! No way was I being judgmental. I was just stating fact...right? Nope, I was being preachy. It was a healthy burn for me because it caused me to think through what I think. It caused me to evaluate the way I portray my convictions and how they affect hearts around me. 

Is my burdened heart really burdened or condemning? Is my care and concern being covered by disapproval or my disapproval covered by care and concern? 

I have had to apologize to quite a few friends from high school. They lived through the fumbling of my heart and convictions. Though I am grateful for that time of learning, I would do those years differently the second time 'round. 

I would be less preachy and more lovey. I would find a way to show my heart more. 

It makes me sad that people say things like "I love Jesus, just not the Church" or "Christians talk about love but hate those who don't agree with them." And it makes me even sadder that I may have contributed to that at one point in my life. But though Christians aren't perfect, we are called to love. You don't have to be perfect to love. We can make mistakes and still be known to love. 

And I'm figuring this out with ya. I don't have answers quite yet, but maybe soon. Maybe I'll do a blog series on this one. Hmm.

They will know you are Mine by your love for one another. - Jesus


Friday, August 26, 2011

#Friday #Follow: Pleasure & Provoked Readings

Lipstick. Such a lost art. We all lipgloss now. But I think the actual stick of lipstick is makin a come back soon. This girl wears it well. Super gorgeous!

Instagram Photo Album. These days all mine and Ty's photos are taken with our iPhones. As a result, I don't think I've printed pictures in for-ev-er. So Elsie from A Beautiful Mess gave me this cute photo book idea. I think I'm gonna do it, one per year.


Stepping away to create & Seeking Reconciliation by No.17. I knew the second I read this girl's blog that we were going to be instant friends. Though her writing flurries through real life, these two posts have captured my attention and cause my mind to strain the most. In a good way.

What are you reading this fine Friday?

PS. Watching Adjustment Bureau and am liking it but so confused!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My 4 Types of Daily Writing

I write four times a day. Nothing crazy or anything but I try to make these four types of writing part of my daily routine. I think routine is important in the life of a writer. It makes the creativity more fun. So here they are:

 So so so so so so so important. Did I mentioned how important it is. Journalling got me through high school. And college. It was my own secret personal space that I could write with no obligations, no prompts, no critique. Most of the time my entries start out as an observations and end up as prayers to the Lord. Both pleas and praise. Journalling is, in my humble opinion, such a benefit to our writing minds. It lets us process our days and weeks and months. This type of writing is exercise. 

Oh man. I love my Venting Book. Not because I like to vent, but because of what it has done for my conversations among people. When I have something to vent about [rightly or wrongly], I write it down and it allows me to get everything out before I come into contact with people. haha. Otherwise I know that I will not be present in that conversation. My mind will be wandering back to whatever it is the irked me and I tend to weave it into my conversations somehow. I don't like it about myself. But it's reality. So, I vent write. Try it. And tell me what you think. 

This is the only daily writing that becomes a little more difficult if I am not inspired. This is actually the writing that drains me the most. I'm a novice book writer so I'm sure there are so many things I'm doing wrong or that I can be doing better or little shortcuts in the whole process that I have yet to learn. But til I figure them out, it's been a long process. This is the marathon process of my whole writing world. 

You. I love writing for you. Though some bloggers would argue that we write for ourselves and others get to read it. But I half-ly disagree. I think we do both. I like writing for you. I like knowing what you're going through and writing specific to it. I like hearing your feedback and suggestions for the blog. I like that this is a place more of conversation and less preachy or journally. You are my favorite type of writing. 

So that's a little bit into my writing brain. I like keeping my writing separate and then seeing it all melt together. For example, my debut post for She Seeks came from an excerpt in my journal. Another example, my book ideas came from your responses on the blog. 

The sky is your limit. But only if you pick up a paper, a pencil, or computer and write. 

What are you writing lately? I wanna read it. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Help :: A Review from a Fake Feminist

Yes, I am a fake feminist.

Let me explain. 

I believe that women are powerful and intelligent beings. I believe that women have the utmost ability to do any job men can do. I believe women are sometimes even better than men at their jobs. I believe a women's role as wife, mother, and career woman will be debated through the rest of time.  

Now, all that being said, I do not believe just because we all can do something means we all should do it. [<This point is a whole post in and of itself, but we'll do that later.] 

I'm not an advocate to the "I'm a woman hear me roar" movement, but I am one to encourage women and girls to be brave enough to step out and make a mark on the world. Sweetly. Intelligently. And because you want to, not because you feel you have to, to make a point 
People are equal and I was in tears at the way The Help portrayed this fact. 
The film encompassed both the women's rights movement as well as the civil rights movement in a relational, heart tugging, realistic, emotional, humorous, and factual way.  

Here's a mini-synopsis:
Three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s,  who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed —even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.

My reviews:
CASTUh-maz-ing! Each actress and actor was perfectly placed. Personalities jumped through the screen and each character  made you feel like you were personally invested in their well-being [or demise, depending on the character]. My faves: Minny Jackson & Celia Foote

STORYLINE: I didn't read the book [!] so I'm not 100% sure how true it was to its originality, but even without reading, the movie's story kept me engaged, excited on the thrilling parts, laughing on the hilarious parts, and weeping on the heart breaking. I liked especially that the writers didn't shy away from the reality of the hardship for the colored slaves. And of course, the humor of the poo pie. [You'll just have to watch it.]

CINEMATOGRAPHY: I loved looking at this movie. Not just watching it for the content, but actually looking at the colors and camera shots. It made me feel good :) That's it. 

Overall, this movie gets a 5 Star in my book. Wholesome and clean, The Help is a pretty darn good $11 investment. 

Did you see it? What'd you think? If not, go see it. Not tonight though, it's too late.

Happy Almost-Weekend!


Friday, August 12, 2011

#Friday #Follow // Reader's Edition

::Click the images to go to the posts::
From Jeanne Oliver, a beautifully written post to her mother. I love it when people write about their mommas. It's like you get to see a little more into their life and where they came from. I teared up reading this because it reminded me so much of my mom. I love hearing that mom's pray for their kids

From Kathryn White, a piece about reaching that point where you look around and see the overwhelming laundry list of to-dos in your life. There's not a fiber in your being that wants to be responsible. You just want to stop and be still. I'm not recommending it as a default, but I think sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to let the laundry go undone, the dishes unwashed, the suitcases still packed and just be still. 

Dooce is one of my favorite, most relational writers. However, some of her stuff is a little well, questionable in tone and perspective, but I really like her none the less. She is a "work from home" mom and her husband is able to be home as well as her writing is their family business. This is her little viniette on working from home. For your watching pleasure.

Happy Reading and Happy Friday! Go see a movie tonight. Preferrably The Help.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

7 Nuggets I Got From My First Blog Conference

*This will be the last post on the conference, I promise!

Since I've been home, the question from family and friends has been, So how was the conference? What'd you learn? And my reply is, I learned a lot about what I don't want to be as a blogger/writer. 

I think this is mostly because as my first conference, I observed more than interacted [which admittedly isn't ideal].

It was my first enormous conference with no partner in crime and I'm an introvert. So I sat, brainstormed, wrote, brainstormed, ate, brainstormed, read, brainstormed, listened and brainstormed. There was a world load of such great content and information that I had to implement most of it right away, leaving me a really good excuse for not striking up conversations. I was nervous. Intimidated. Scared of what others might think of my little baby blog. Maybe next year I'll do better.

But in the meantime I have my learning experience summed up into 7 bullets to hold me over for the next 12 months.

#7 The world of blogging is way more vast than I'd known
        There were 3700 people in attendance [mostly women] and most of the big name blogger's I had never heard before. But looked them up when I got home of course. 

#6 Conference vendors will do anything to get you to talk to them
        From circus acts to ice cream dipping to Guitar Hero to sweet and savory food samples. These guys are pros. 

#5 I don't think I'll ever be a Mommy Blogger
        Nothing against Mommy bloggers [definition: a mom who blogs all about her kids], but two things that were glaringly evident this weekend was that only rarely do people wanna read stories for the sake of the story. They read stories to relate. And the second, is that everything put online is permanent. I will definitely share about my kids, but I may not make that my niche. Which segways to the next bullet...

#4 It's pronounced "Nee-ch", not "Ni-tch"
        I always said "nitch" until this weekend everyone was saying this weird word I'd never heard before. For a little while I thought they were talking about breakfast foods...[get it?]. Then someone read the word aloud and the light bulb blinged. So that's how you say it. 

#3 Blogging is more than vomiting your latest obsession
        It is providing good quality content that people can relate to, take away from, utilize in their own lives, or be inspired by. Remember our readers. Remember our readers. 

#2 Blog design will make or break your blog
        Tru dat. A blog can have the most exquisitely worded quality content, but if the background is blinking stars and hearts, the font is white, and there are little elves jumping across the page, no one cares about the content because they can't focus. Keep it inviting, warm, and clean. 

#1 Passionate, good quality content will grow your readership 
        This could not have been stressed enough. In fact, the crazy stress of it caused me to go back and read through some of my posts and evaluate whether they were worth posting or not. 

Disclaimer:: These don't just apply to blogging, they can be heeded in all sorts of writing situations and scenarios. Letters, books, blogs, lesson plans, work documents, etc. 

I didn't make any new instant friends, but I did meet a lot of beautiful and creative women. I may never see them again in my life but I am more inspired because of them. 

Happy Tuesday! Smell some flowers today. 


Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Feature: 5 Things to Remember When Telling Your Story

A couple weeks ago I ran into this funny girl's blog. She is both a speaker and a writer and the content of her blog captured me. So I went out on a little limb [well, it was a big limb] and emailed her asking if she'd ever be interested in guest posting on the JM blog. I told her we love stories here and that my heart is for people to learn to tell their own stories of victory, defeat, sorrow and survival. She responded with a great big "YES!" 

So readers, I am honored to introduce you to my new friend Natalie

Hello JM Readers,

Remember back in school when the assignment was to read a biography or some other sort of non-fiction? Yeah, we all sighed and wanted to moan, “Boorrring!” Maybe not all of us, but I’m betting there were plenty. Why? Because maybe they were boring! But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Writing a non-fiction, say, your story, can be as intriguing as the latest fiction on the shelf.

When it comes to “our” story, there can be a lot of issues; too long, too detailed, too crazy. Let me give you five things to remember when beginning to put your story out there.

**These steps don't necessarily apply to book writing. More short story, blogging, and sharing. 

#1 Keep it Simple
Blogs are meant to be short, easy to ready, and intriguing. I’ve been to many blogs, and simply based on how long the entry was I moved along. If your story is pretty long (which most of ours are) consider breaking it up into 3-5 entries. Always keep the reader coming back for more at the end of your post.

For speaking, if you are doing an introduction on yourself, your mini-story should not exceed 5 min. If your entire message is about you, then you can use the next four steps as well.

Now, how to keep that post interesting…

#2 Audience Take Away
Ever been caught in a situation where the person talking has no point? Did you want to look at them and say, “And your point is….?” That is exactly what you do not want your audience to say! That’s why you need to think about  your audience take-away. What’s the point? What do you want them to ponder about your story?

Is it that you want them to steer clear of the mistakes you made? Do you want them to follow your brilliant footsteps of success? Maybe you want them to hear how you “made it”, or conquered something. What would you want someone to take away with them if you only had three minutes to say it? That, what you would say in three minutes or less, is your audience take-away.

#3 Skip the Details
My friend and I lovingly joke about how her mom, when telling a story, adds details that have no significance to the topic. She’ll debate with herself about what day she  got her hair done. “It was Tuesday. No, it was Monday because I went to the grocery story, then I got my hair done, and that’s where I ran into Sally who told me about the sale at the shoe store.” See. All we need to know is where the sale is! Sometimes details can get you hung up on things that don’t really matter.

In order to make sure you are not adding in too many unnecessary details, always outline your story, take the time to edit it, and then write it again. In fact, give it to someone and have him or her read it through and mark out what they found to be unnecessary, helping you filter the details.

You might find that although we love knowing you lived in a Chicago suburb, we don’t really need to know that the street was right next to the old lady with the crazy dog, unless the lady has something to do with your story. There is a difference between adding some flavor, some creative backdrop to your story, and mudding it up with too many details. Remember, get to the point.

#4 Manage Your Mission
Your story has an end. At least the story you want to tell does. Because of this, your story telling has a mission. This is closely related to your audience take-away, but this is for you and you alone. Having a mission with your story will help not only manage details, but how you present your story. Let me give you an example.

My audience take-away for my personal story is that they understand grace. I have a fabulous, hilarious story about me falling in a trashcan. By itself, it’s a winner of a story. But, coupled with a dramatic shift about how I threw myself in the trash emotionally and spiritually, it is a story with a mission leaving my audience with not only a visual, but also resounding spiritual implications.

What can you weave in your story that will direct your mission? What stories outside of your chronological event timeline can you interject to emphasize your audience take-away? Having take-away is good, but it must be guided by your managing the entire story.

#5 Be You
There is no other person on the planet with your story. No one. No one has your emotions, your successes, your failures, your pain or your joys. Only you can tell your story. Take the opportunity to tell it well. Be the fiction we want to read! J


-Natalie Witcher

For more of Natalie's writing go here

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We're Free...Now What? Part 2

Every English or interpretation or marketing or life teacher will always teach you the golden question: "So what?" What does that piece of literature, that piece of advice, that product, or that principle have to do with me?

In this case, it has alot to do with you. God didn't just free us for funnsies so that we could wait around until He came back. No way Jose. 

God freed us TO something greater than ourselves. He released the bondage of sin so that we might live freely FOR something. So that we could pursue something with all our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength with out the chains of guilt and shame and accusation weighing us down.

We could be free to dream. Like big ol' dreams. 

We are free to live our lives telling everyone everywhere where they can find freedom, hope and love. 

So, now it's your turn. 
What do you dream about? 
Don't be shy, say it out loud. What do you dream of?

And then share it with us! 


*I'll share my dreams tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Release of Freedom :: Part 1

Photo Credit

Everyone is trying to be someone, but not everyone ends up being who they set out to be. 
We tend to learn half way through our journey that our circumstances define who we are. We are conditioned and trained to believe that what we do and say tacks onto the list of who we are becoming.

And to a certain extent, we're right. But it doesn't have to be that way. 

What we do defines who we are in that moment, but what we've done or where we've been doesn't have to define us forever. You see my friends, there is hope and freedom from life's circumstances. There is restoration and there is healing from the brokenness of pain. There is redemption and empowerment towards something better, more worthwhile and meaningful. 

When we sit in our guilt, our oppression, our wickedness, our shame, there is physical, emotional and spiritual stop on who we become. There is something inside our hearts that won't let us be free to experience life new and fresh. And even though our heart may long so desperately to be free, there is something that just won't release. 

The Bible calls it "held by the kingdom of darkness."

For [God] has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedomt and forgave our sins. {Colossians 1:13} And through him God reconciled everything to himself. [God] made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. {Colossians 20-22}
Photo credit
This passage brings me to tears because I do not deserve to be free. I have deliberately offended and broken the law of God almighty and yet He still sees me as perfect. He has declared me holy and blameless because He loves me that much. That is absurd. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, says that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 

The very POWER of GOD is what you and I now live in. It makes absolutely no human-sense but it's true. It rattles my mind every time I sit and think about it and there are times when I doubt God's love for me. I do. But that's doesn't make it any less true. 

God you are good and your love endures all things. You have declared us perfect. Will you show us that today? Us, of little faith. Will you rain down your love on our weary and doubting hearts so that we might see you again and again and again and again. 

Jesus sets you free. It's true. So very true. 


*Check back for Part 2 tonight.
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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