Monday, April 27, 2009
What an impressive idea for a book (one of those where you think, WHY didn't I think of that?) and I'm thrilled to introduce you to Andy Andrews book!
I love Andy's challenge to PAY ATTENTION to those God has placed in your life.
Here's the 'official' blurb about the book ... and then I'll share a few of what some of my most admired bloggers NOTICED about someone in their life!
A moving story of common wisdom from the bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift.
Orange Beach, Alabama is a simple town filled with simple people. But they all have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, and many of the other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.
Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious old man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. In his simple interactions, Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what they can do about it.
Based on a remarkable true story, The Noticer beautifully blends fiction, allegory, and inspiration.
From the book came The Noticer Project:
1. Think of 1-5 people that have made a significant influence on your life.
2. Use this website to write them a note expressing your personal appreciation.
3. Your note will be delivered by email, and will also be publicly available on this website to inspire and encourage others to "notice," important people in their lives.
Wow. How cool is that?
Here are some that I saw: (wipes tears away)
Annie from Annieblogs
* Mrs. Spence was my 3rd grade teacher. I remember clearly sitting in her classroom and thinking, “If this is what being a teacher is, I wanna do it.” And for five years of teaching, I tried everyday to be like her. We went to lunch about a year ago and I can only pray that in 15 years, I’ll get a call from a student to see if I’m available to grab lunch. Cause that’s proof of a lasting impact.
My wife, Gail.
*We have been married for almost thirty-one years. She is the one who keeps me grounded. She is my best friend, my counselor, and my lover. She is a one-woman cheerleading squad. Without her constant nurturing and support, I’m confident I would have accomplished very, very little in my life.
Billy Coffey from What I learned Today
*To this day I don’t know Allison’s last name, mostly because I was too shy to ask and partly because we only spoke once for about ten seconds. But God introduced us just as we were both living our lowest moments because we each needed what the other could give, and I’ll never forget her. And if you want to read that story, it’s here.
Go here to read more!
Buy the book here!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
May we all "get up off the couch"!
ABOUT THE SUSY:
SUSY FLORY grew up on the back of a quarter horse in an outdoorsy family in Northern California and she's not afraid to dive into the trenches to experience firsthand whatever she's writing about. If that means smuggling medical supplies into Cuba on a humanitarian trip or sitting down to coffee to talk about faith with a practicing witch, she's there with a listening ear and notebook in hand.
Susy's creative nonfiction features a first person journalistic style with a backbone of strong research and a dash of dry wit. She attended Biola University and UCLA, where she received degrees in English and psychology. She has a background in journalism, education, and communications. Her first book, Fear Not Da Vinci, released in 2006.
Visit her website.
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Addicted to comfort
“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive …
One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt, on her 77th birthday
I love my couch. It’s covered in a squishy soft velvety material the color of oatmeal laced with honey and the cushions are fat. Three big loose pillows rest against the back, the material woven into an exotic, vaguely Eastern pattern of impressionistic flowers and trees in tawny gold and lapis blue. My favorite spot in the entire house is the far end of this couch, with two smaller pillows behind my back and my legs stretched out long ways. I do this every day.
For a while we had an uptight couch. Bright Colonial red with little blue and yellow flowers, it reminded me of the calico dresses Melissa Gilbert used to wear on Little House on the Prairie. The fabric was quilted in the shape of puzzle pieces and the back rose straight up, pierced by a row of buttons. A boxy pleated strip of fabric ran along the bottom. It was really uncomfortable and almost impossible to take a nap in. That couch didn’t want you sitting there very long; it was a little Puritanical, wanting you up and around, taking care of business. We sold it at a garage sale for $20. Good riddance.
But the comfy oatmeal couch—it loves you. It calls you to sink down into comfort, and to stay awhile. A long while.
From the couch I can see the kitchen where my kids are grating cheese for quesadillas or searching the fridge for leftover pizza. I can look out the back window, at the drooping branches of the monstrous eucalyptus tree overhanging the back yard. Or, I can stare at the ceiling fan, slowly circling overhead. But, really, I hardly ever look at anything but words. Books, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, letters from friends—those are the things I look at when I’m stretched out on the couch.
Sundays are my absolutely favorite. After church, we eat lunch at the taqueria, then head home. The newspapers await; I don’t want to waste time changing my clothes so I head straight for the couch. News comes first, then business, travel, entertainment, and the Sunday magazine. Last are the sale papers: Target, Best Buy, Macy’s.
By this time I’m sleepy, melting a bit around the edges. My head grows heavy and I turn, curl up, and snuggle into the cushions. I fall asleep, papers crinkly around me.
A while ago my teenage son, just to aggravate me, staked a claim on the oatmeal couch. He’d race home after church in his little pick-up truck and head in the door, kicking off his shoes and diving into my favorite comfy spot in one gangly flop. He made it his goal to be asleep, limbs a sprawl, before I even made it inside the house. A few times I tried to extricate him but it was useless, like trying to wrestle a wire hanger out of a tangled pile.
I decided to wait him out and so after he slept on the couch a few Sundays, he gave it up. He had better things to do, usually involving his computer.
Things returned to normal, the oatmeal couch remembered the shape of my behind, and I took to snuggling into the tawny-lapis pillows once again.
It was safe, my velvety couch cave.
Just like my life.
In one of my favorite books, A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel writes about her mother, always on the couch with a cardboard box of books by her side. There she was, forever reading a book and waving at her children as they went back and forth, in and out of the house, busily doing whatever kids in a small Indiana town did. She stayed there, curled up on the couch, peacefully reading her books as her husband ran around who-knows-where, maybe coon hunting, gambling away his paycheck, or sleeping with the divorced woman across town. She was comfortable there. Zippy unexpectedly became a bestseller and Kimmel traveled around giving talks and signing books. The one question everyone asked her was, “Did your mother ever get up off the couch?”
I don’t live in Indiana; I live in a suburb of San Francisco. My kids don’t run in and out of the house; they pretty much stay put. My husband is a hard working, non-gambling, faithful guy who pays the bills. And my life is pretty good. But I have lived most of it lodged safely in the corner of my couch.
My secure couch cocoon was really a picture of what I had let my life become. Lethargic, sleepy, with a love for security and for comfort, I lived for self. I avoided suffering at all costs. I didn’t want to ever do anything uncomfortable. I think I was addicted to comfort.
My journey out of my couch-life started years ago when I was a college student on vacation, idly looking around a gift shop. Flicking through a box full of enameled metal signs, I came across one that read “We Can Do It!” Underneath was a portrait of a woman, looking sort of like Lucille Ball in her cleaning garb, hair up in a red bandanna. Glossy lips, a little pouty, with arched eyebrows and thick eyelashes. She wore a blue collared shirt, sleeve rolled up over a flexed bicep, toned and powerful. Her eyes were wide open, focused, determined. Who was she? I hadn’t a clue, but I bought the sign and installed it in a place of honor by my desk.
Later, when I was married, the mother of two small children and too busy changing diapers to sit much on the couch yet, I learned she was called Rosie the Riveter. She, and six million other women who toiled in factories while their men were off fighting in World War II, changed the world. Even now, as I look at the old enamel sign next to my desk, I’m haunted by the determination in the line of her jaw and the resolve in the curl of her fist. I wanted to be like her.
But the couch called. I forgot the sign; it migrated to the back of my bookcase and I took a part time job teaching English at a private high school. My kids were in school, my husband was fighting up the corporate ladder, and with the days sometimes a blur of homework, basketball practice, and ballet class, I hoarded my couch time.
Funny, though. It wasn’t satisfying. I just couldn’t ever seem to get enough.
And then, one day, stretched out reading the Sunday paper, I saw Rosie again. It was a full-page department store ad. Across the top ran a banner: “Help end hunger.” Something had changed. Rosie looked a little more glamorous than I remembered. The “can” in the “We CAN Do It!” was underlined and capitalized to emphasize the can of food in her fist. I unfolded the page and examined it; it was an advertisement for National Hunger Awareness day. If you made a $5 donation to the department store, they would in return give you a 15% coupon for regular, sale and clearance-priced merchandise. It’s our thanks to you for helping to relieve hunger in our communities.
I pondered the page; something didn’t quite make sense. Somehow, by partnering with Rosie to spend money at the department store, you would help to relieve hunger. Rosie and her factory worker sisters had changed the world by serving for low pay and little recognition on factory lines during a war. They had sacrificed personal comfort and convenience for a cause greater than themselves, a cause they believed in and sweated and grew calluses for. Now the department store was asking me to be like Rosie, tie up my hair, bare my biceps and leave my couch, so I could … shop? You’ve got to be kidding.
But my irritation that day over the hijacking of the Rosie the Riveter image piqued my curiosity. Who was Rosie? Was she a real person? Was she still alive? What would she think about the ways her image, once meant to encourage and inspire the Nazi-fighting women of World War II, had been used for merchandising? I was intrigued by her determination and I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to the bottom of her story. So I did. And after Rosie I found eight other women, amazing women, who changed the world. I found women who, with grit and guts, made their lives add up to something much more than just a satisfying Sunday nap. And somehow, in the finding, the oatmeal couch lost its allure.
I wanted to feel alive, to experience something more deep and dangerous than my middle class life. I wanted more than a Ford Expedition SUV with leather seats or a 401K groaning with employer contributions. I craved something beyond Ralph Lauren Suede paint or a giant glossy red Kitchen Aid mixer. I was ready to wake up from a very long nap and do something meaningful.
So this is the story of how, slowly, I began to get up off the couch of my boring, safe, sheltered, vanilla existence to something more real, sharper, in focus. Rosie led the way. Along came Eleanor, and Jane. Then Harriet, Elizabeth, and more. These women became mentors calling me to a different kind of life. Passionate for change, each woman sacrificed money, love, comfort, time, and, ultimately, self, to make a difference to thousands, maybe millions of people.
Living like the women who changed the world is not easy, but it’s good. It feels right. It is satisfying.
This is how I got up off the couch and tried, with much fear and trembling, to make a difference in my world. And I’ll never go back.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
There is an organization that was created to encourage, educate and equip women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home helps thousands of moms love their lives through their many resources including conferences, website, and books.
Recently I partnered up with this organization as a blogger. Over time I hope to share with you the many resources this ministry has to offer (old ones and new). To learn more about the Hearts at Home Blogging team go here.
In the meantime I would like to encourage you to explore their website and blog for an immediate dose of mothering encouragement.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Jenny B. Jones writes adult and YA Christian Fiction with equal parts wit, sass, and untamed hilarity. When she's not writing, she's living it up as a high school speech teacher in Arkansas.
Visit the author's website.
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
And that’s when my life fell apart.
“Do you, Jillian Leigh Kirkwood . . .”
Standing by my mother’s side as she marries the man who is so not my dad, I suppress a sigh and try to wiggle my toes in these hideous shoes. The hideous shoes that match my hideous maid-of honor dress. I like to look at things on the bright side, but the only positive thing about this frock is that I’ll never have to wear it again.
“. . . take Jacob Ralph Finley . . .”
Ralph? My new stepdad’s middle name is Ralph? Okay, do we need one more red flag here? My mom is marrying this guy, and I didn’t even know his middle name. Did she? I check her face for signs of revulsion, signs of doubt. Signs of “Hey, what am I thinking? I don’t want Jacob Ralph Finley to be my daughter’s new stepdad.”
I see none of these things twinkling in my mom’s crystal blue eyes. Only joy. Disgusting, unstoppable joy.
“Does anyone have an objection?” The pastor smiles and scans the small crowd in the Tulsa Fellowship Church. “Let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”
Oh my gosh. I totally object! I look to my right and lock eyes with Logan, the older of my two soon-to-be stepbrothers. In the six hours that I have been in Oklahoma preparing for this “blessed” event, Logan and I have not said five words to one another. Like we’ve mutually agreed to be enemies.
I stare him down.
His eyes laser into mine.
Do we dare?
He gives a slight nod, and my heart triples in beat.
“Then by the powers vested in me before God and the family and friends of—”
The church gasps.
I throw my hands over my mouth, wishing the floor would swallow me.
I, Bella Kirkwood, just stopped my own mother’s wedding.
And I have no idea where to go from here. It’s not like I do this every day, okay? Can’t say I’ve stopped a lot of weddings in my sixteen years.
My mom swivels around, her big white dress making crunchy noises. She takes a step closer to me, still flashing her pearly veneers at the small crowd.
“What,” she hisses near my ear, “are you doing?”
I glance at Logan, whose red locks hang like a shade over his eyes. He nods again.
“Um . . . um . . . Mom, I haven’t had a chance to talk to you at all this week . . .” My voice is a tiny whisper. Sweat beads on my forehead.
“Honey, now is not exactly the best time to share our feelings and catch up.”
My eyes dart across the sanctuary, where one hundred and fifty people are perched on the edge of their seats. And it’s not because they’re anxious for the chicken platters coming their way after the ceremony.
“Mom, the dude’s middle name is Ralph.”
She leans in, and we’re nose to nose. “You just stopped my wedding and that’s what you wanted to tell me?”
Faint—that’s what I’ll do next time I need to halt a wedding.
“How well do you know Jake? You only met six months ago.”
Some of the heat leaves her expression. “I’ve known him long enough to know that I love him, Bella. I knew it immediately.”
“But what if you’re wrong?” I rush on, “I mean, I’ve only been around him a few times, and I’m not so sure. He could be a serial killer for all we know.” I can count on one hand the times I’ve been around Jake. My mom usually visited him when I was at my dad’s.
Her voice is low and hurried. “I understand this isn’t easy for you. But our lives have changed. It’s going to be an adventure, Bel.”
Adventure? You call meeting a man on the Internet and forcing me to move across the country to live with his family an adventure? An adventure is swimming with dolphins in the Caribbean. An adventure is touring the pyramids in Egypt. Or shopping at the Saks after-Thanksgiving sale with Dad’s credit card. This, I do believe, qualifies as a nightmare!
“You know I’ve prayed about this. Jake and I both have. We know this is God’s will for us. I need you to trust me, because I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life.”
A single tear glides down Mom’s cheek, and I feel my heart constrict. This time last year my life was so normal. So happy. Can I just hit the reverse button and go back?
Slowly I nod. “Okay, Mom.” It’s kind of hard to argue with “God says this is right.” (Though I happen to think He’s wrong.)
The preacher clears his throat and lifts a bushy black brow.
“You can continue,” I say, knowing I’ve lost the battle. “She had something in her teeth.” Yes, that’s the best I've got.
I. Am. An. Idiot.
“And now, by the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Finley. You may kiss your bride.”
Nope. Can’t watch.
I turn my head as the “Wedding March” starts. Logan walks to my side, and I link my arm in his. Though we’re both going to be juniors, he’s a head taller than me. It’s like we’re steptwins. He grabs his six-year-old brother, Robbie, with his other hand, and off we go in time to the music. Robbie throws rose petals all around us, giggling with glee, oblivious to the fact that we just witnessed a ceremony marking the end of life as we know it.
“Good job stopping the wedding.” Logan smirks. “Very successful.”
I jab my elbow into his side. “At least I tried! You did nothing!”
“I just wanted to see if you had it in you. And you don’t.”
I snarl in his direction as the camera flashes, capturing this day for all eternity.
Last week I was living in Manhattan in a two-story apartment between Sarah Jessica Parker and Katie Couric. I could hop a train to Macy’s and Bloomie’s. My friends and I could eat dinner at Tao and see who could count the most celebs. I had Broadway in my backyard and Daddy’s MasterCard in my wallet.
Then my mom got married.
And I got a new life.
I should’ve paid that six-year-old to pull the fire alarm.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Check out this interesting interview with Ciaran Blumenfeld (aka Momfluential) and Susan from 5 Minutes for Mom!
From 5M4M site:
Ciaran Blumenfeld (aka Momfluential) is a riot.Although I’m certain she could be a stand-up comic, I think that is actually the one hat she has not yet worn.
Ciaran is a mother, professional writer and blogger, designer, speaker, style consultant, brand strategist and now also a children’s wear designer. Yes, recently she launched a fabulously successful product line called Francie Pants.
Ciaran created the fun, fashionable, patterned sports/privacy girls’ shorts for her own daughters and then launched the product line named Francie Pants.
Think: “I see London, I see France, I see someone’s underpants!”
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This is an amazing book! I had the privilege of working with the publisher during the editing process for Wilhite's latest release!
Buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Wide-Open-Live-Real/dp/1601420722/ref=sprightly-20