Saturday, July 28, 2007

ICRS convention- girls night out

(continuing account of my trip to Christian Booksellers convention 2007 in Atlanta)

Saturday morning we took our time getting ready since we didn't really have to be anywhere until noon. Looking very just-woke-up, we went down for the complimentary hotel breakfast. Most of the other people were already showered and dressed with their "face" on but I had sleep wrinkles on my face and morning breath - I had forgotten to pack a toothbrush. We sat eating our yogurt and coffee and talked about our pets. I'm telling you, there is no rhyme or reason to what we will talk about when!

After getting ready and checking into our other hotel, we headed down for the AWSA workshops. Some good information for writers and speakers was being offered, but I had to miss it to go to my meeting with my publisher for God's Purpose for Every Woman. This meeting was in another hotel about 5 blocks away. It was middle of the afternoon in HOT-LANTA and I wasn't sure how to get there so I asked a taxi to drive me. He refused (where is the southern hospitality?) as I assume the fare wouldn't be enough to be worth his time. But he told me which streets to walk down to find it. High-tailing it in my heels so as not to be late, I went. To my surprise I got many cat-calls from the construction workers on a building project I passed (I guess this is their southern hospitality!). I'm thinking the extreme heat gave them delirium, causing me to look look 10 years younger than I actually am.

I got there about 15 minutes early and no one was in the meeting room yet. One of the things I was going to talk with them about was a new book idea I have. Feeling slightly antsy about that, I went into the bathroom to freshen up. Once in there by myself I thought, I should pull out my book proposal and look over it and make sure I'm ready to present this. Then I thought, No, I'm just going to spend this time praying. So I prayed and laid my book proposal on God's alter and told Him "not my will but yours be done." I headed back to the meeting room and waited, and waited, and when the publishers were not there by the prescribed time I really began to get antsy. I started to think I must be so low on their totem pole that they've forgotten they scheduled this meeting with me. I wondered if I could get it rescheduled for another time during the conference, knowing their schedules would be packed. Then I remembered what I had just prayed. And I told God, "If they do not come I will be fine with that and trust You." One minute later they arrived and spent the hour with me. As I mentioned in my first ICRS post, I really enjoyed my time with them.

After this meeting I headed back to change clothes and meet the girls for a night out. Marybeth's friend from high school -Karen- was so wonderful to come all the way to downtown Atlanta to pick up Marybeth, me, Lysa, Micca and Glynnis and take us out. We went to dinner at Applebee's and to see a chick flick. Initially I wasn't ga-ga over the movie. It was slow moving much of the time, jerked back and forth from past to present, and had a couple frustrating characters. But it made me miss my family like CRAZY. I came back to the hotel and called my husband. With tears welling up in my eyes I said,"I'm thrilled to be here but I so wish I could get in a car right now and drive home." Actually, we all called home after that movie. It sparked a lot of good conversation as we sat on our hotel beds that night as well. It was really good in the midst of this career-oriented convention trip to be reminded of what's truly important.

Sunday morning we got up listened to a great devotion and then all got ready and headed downstairs in the hotel for the AWSA Golden Scroll awards banquet. Lysa was keynoting and did a terriffic job, giving an inspiring message about keeping our focus on God and not on opportunities and exposure. She asked us, "Is God alone enough for you, or is it God plus a best-selling book? Or God plus a big arena speaking event? " See the message that kept emerging for me right and left during this trip?! That night was the Harvest House author's dinner at the botanical gardens, which I already wrote about. It was a lovely!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

the delay to obey

Take a moment and listen to today's verse - from my side bar - from Psalm 119:60:
"I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands."
It touches on something that I've been thinking about lately. It seems like so often when I tell or hear someone tell me their testimony, or their story of being called into some sort of ministry position, or just called to do something difficult or out of the ordinary, they talk at length about how they ignored God at first or insisted they weren't qualified and refused to obey for a while. Now this wouldn't bother me except that sometimes we almost seem to be taking pride or pleasure in reporting on that aspect of the story. I've done it too. It just seems like that is the way you are suppose to tell those kinds of stories. It's almost as if it makes us seem all the more "called" or more confident in our calling because we resisted it so much.

Of course there are many biblical stories (like Moses and Jonah) where God's people resisted His plans at first. And certainly eventual obedience is better than no obedience at all. But my heart's cry today, like the writer of Psalm 119:60, is to hasten to listen to God and not delay to obey Him.

ICRS the road trip

I promised I'd tell you more about my ICRS trip so here we go...

The plan was to leave Charlotte for Atlanta on Friday at 5:00 pm, stop for dinner, and then get to the hotel in Atlanta by about 9:30 or so. It was me, Lysa, Marybeth and Heidi reenacting Romy and Michelle's road trip. Two of us met at the prescribed time and two of us did not. After meeting, some of us still had to shop for clothes to wear to ICRS, and luggage, and go by Radio Shack. Whle others were still on their way and hung up in traffic. And so, I have no idea when we finally got out of Charlotte. But it was MUCH later than five. But it was all good-- why? Because I was with girlfriends! Except that I was very hungry.

I think it was nearly 9:00 by the time we finally stopped at Cracker Barrel an hour outside of Charlotte for dinner. Cracker Barrel is not one of my favorite places because I ate there once while pregnant and immediately got sick to my stomach. Hadn't eaten there since but Marybeth and Lysa like it so I braved it without complaint. Now I have to digress to tell you that in the weeks before ICRS I was in a panic because Yankee Candle discontinued my favorite scent TEA & HONEY (if you find some please send them to me and I'll pay you!!). There were none left in my local store and they were sold out online. That's the candle I burn in the morning during my quiet time. I found two jars of Tea & Honey at that Cracker Barrel for 25% off. So I was a very happy woman, and didn't care at that point how the food might taste. My chicken was actually quite good.

For the next few hours Heidi drove us, while "Sista Sue Sub-Navigational System" guided us, and Lysa kept us awake by "spinning records" on her ipod shuffle for us. Bleary-eyed, we got to downtown Atlanta at ONE AM. I only wish I was kidding. We were greeted by no less than 50 Latino men dressed exactly alike in black suits, white shirts and red ties, milling around outside the hotel like it was noon and not one am. It was a bit bizarre. We asked the nice bellhop why there were so many Latino men here dressed alike in the middle of the night and he explained it was a convention of the Latino equivalent of Amway. For reasons still unknown to me, their meetings ran from five pm to five am. Not kidding. Inside the hotel there were at least 80 Latino Amway-types waiting for the elevators. We just wanted to get to our beds but our room was on the forty-eighth floor, so walking up was not an option. Finally we got on a severely overcrowded elevator. I could feel claustrophobia setting in quickly and wanted to flip out. Thank God there was a mirror on the ceiling of that elevator because staring up into it while praying under my breath is the only way I got through that ride without major incident.

Once we finally got in our room and washed up for bed, somehow we began talking about deep life issues and experiences at 2:00 AM! They were asking me about how I met my husband and how I felt when my mother died, etc. How is it that four gals who've wanted nothing more than sleep for the last 3 hours suddenly choose talking over sleeping when given the chance? It was all good though because we didn't have anywhere to be before noon the next day and the hotel had comfy beds and light blocking curtains. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Touch of Your Hand devo

The Touch of Your Hand
Glynnis Whitwer

“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.
‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’" Mark 1:41 (NIV)

The labor and delivery of my second child was fast. In fact, within three hours after the first inkling of pain, I was in the hospital being prepped for delivery. Although my husband stood at my side, the intense pain surprised and overwhelmed me. You see, my first delivery took 13 hours, with lots of pain intervention. This time, because of the speed, I had no pain relief.

I’ll never forget looking into the face of the young nurse standing at my right, coaching me through the delivery. After an excruciating contraction, I said, “Would you hold my hand?” She smiled and grabbed hold of my hand while another wave of pain radiated through my body.

I knew it sounded pitiful and needy to ask someone I didn’t know to hold my hand, but at that moment I needed her strength.

There have been other times I’ve needed to hold someone’s hand. The first time I went snorkeling, I thought I was going to pass out I was hyperventilating so badly. I held my husband’s hand on my left and my son’s hand on my right until I could control my breathing and enjoy the incredible sights. Hiking up Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, I held someone’s hand when I wasn’t grasping on to rocks. I’ve held my mother’s hand and my sisters’ hands as we’ve walked through the pain of losing loved ones.

There’s something about physical touch that brings comfort and stability in an uncertain world. The New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus touching those around Him. He laid His hands on women who had been scorned, children dancing at His feet and lepers ashamed of their faces. I picture His hands always reached out to someone.

In this world of virtual relationships, conversations managed via electronic devices and fear of inappropriate touch, I wonder if we are losing our physical connections to each other. And yet God designed us to need touch. In fact, it is critical to our health – both emotional and physical. Babies need touch for their brains to develop and children need touch for their emotions to develop. Experts say appropriate touch has a profound effect on the brain's programming and re-programming.

Perhaps it’s time to become more intentional about offering loving and appropriate touch to others. We all need it, but often find it awkward to accept and offer. My immediate family is very comfortable with touch, as my children have grown up with lots of physical affection. But I have to be intentional about reaching out to others in gentle and creative ways.

I have discovered reading the New Testament that the first believers were very affectionate with each other. In fact at the end of Acts 20, we read that all the believers embraced and kissed Paul as he was leaving for a journey. They were also encouraged to greet each other with a holy kiss.

While I realize not everyone is ready to be touched with such intimacy, I am challenged to bring healthy touch into my relationships in greater measure. Whether it’s a hug, pat on the head, stroke on the arm, or a holy kiss, touch is needed in our society. Maybe if we brought more healthy touch into our relationships, people wouldn’t be driven to seek it in inappropriate ways.

For whatever reason, God designed us to need the physical touch of others. So the next time you need to hold someone’s hand, I’m your gal.

Dear Lord, I know You designed us to need the touch of other people. It’s not always easy to admit we need someone to hold our hand, or give us a hug. Help me to be more aware of the needs of those around me, and to offer healthy and loving touch in natural ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’ blog for tips on creative and healthy touch.

Consider starting a Gather & Grow group

Application Steps:
The next time you are at church, challenge yourself to offer healthy touch to two or three people. Become the person who offers a hug, rather than waiting for one.

Think about reasons why God would design us to need the physical touch of others.

What are some things that keep us from offering loving touch to others?

Power Verses:
1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (NIV)

1 Peter 5:14, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (NIV)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Birthday report

Well, other than accidentally deleting my "Rachel's Biography" page and not figuring out how to put it back, I've had a good birthday weekend. Had a complimentary french manicure with my friends Kati and Connie, and went to a tres chic restaurant called "Nickoli's" for dinner with said girlfriends. The bread came with soft, fresh roasted garlic you smear on it, and all the pasta was homemade fresh that day. It was delish!

Also went to lunch with hubby at a cafe I've been wanting to try, and then to see a movie. We saw and enjoyed Even Almighty - check it out. (There was an article in my local paper today saying not enough people are seeing the "Christian" movies in the theaters since The Passion, and that means Hollywood will quit making them. We need some family-friendly fare at the box office - so go with your girlfriends or on a date night and see this one.)

Got the MP3 player I wanted. I thought it would come in handy on the long flights I periodically take, but I'm nervous to wear/play it in public because when I jam, I CAN'T sit still. I have to at least rock to the beat. I'm that person you see alone in the car beside you at the stop-light, be-bopping in her seat and singing at the top of her lungs while drumming on the steering wheel. Sad, right? The good news is this little device should encourage me to work twice as long and hard while on the treadmill! I'll let you know if it helps me work off any of the good eats I've had this weekend.

Waiting devo edited

Picture a doctor’s waiting room: cushioned chairs, a display of colorful magazines, soothing music wafting above your head, perhaps an aquarium of sparkling fish.

Why does the doctor provide such a calming environment? Because he or she knows that by and large, people do not like to wait there. Truth is, we don’t much like to wait anywhere, for any length of time.

And we often cringe at the mere idea of waiting on God - more than any other kind of waiting. He is so frequently not in a hurry. We don’t want to learn patience by waiting, though it is often the best way to learn it.

But consider for a moment the flipside. Consider for a moment those times when the waiting room door has been thrown open but we’re still sitting in the chair by the fish, afraid to get up, get out and get moving. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we sense God nudging us to step out but we instead find ourselves oddly content to just wait it out. Or perhaps we are hoping someone else will make the move we’re supposed to make ...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Waiting devo

Out of the Waiting Room

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Picture a doctor’s waiting room: You’re probably imagining comfy chairs, a display of colorful magazines, soothing music wafting above your head, perhaps an aquarium of sparkling fish.

Why does the doctor provide such a relaxing environment in the waiting room? Because he or she knows that by and large, people do not like to wait. He or she wants you to embrace the wait with happy thoughts so that you don’t mind the minutes you spend killing time, waiting your turn.

We are a culture of people who don’t like long lines or taking a number. We dread the day we have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, don’t we? That’s because a long, tedious wait is almost a given and we don’t like it.

We want to get on with our busy lives, not sit around. We have things to do, places to go, people to see.

And we often cringe at just the mere idea of waiting on God - more than any other kind of waiting – because He is so very often not in a hurry. We don’t want to learn patience by waiting, though it is often the best way to learn it. We’re usually in a hurry to even learn patience.

But consider for a moment the flipside. Consider for a moment those times when the waiting room door has been thrown open but we’re still sitting in the chair by the fish, afraid to get up, get out and get moving. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we sense God nudging us to step out but we instead find ourselves oddly content to just wait it out - or perhaps we are hoping someone else will make the move we’re supposed to make.

Just as there are times when God wants us to wait on Him, there are times when He calls us to action. And just as we need to listen for His voice in times of waiting, we need to obey His prompting when the wait is over.

When God told Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan, only two of the twelve came back from the mission ready to do what God was prompting them to do. The others wanted to head back to the waiting room, grab a magazine and hang out with the fish! They were afraid to move forward in faith, even though they had seen God time and again prepare a way for them in the wilderness and then lead them through it. God asked that these people take a step of faith and trust Him for what lay past the waiting room door. He didn’t kick them out of the waiting room. He asked them to leave it, and they chose not to. History shows us what they missed. (Numbers 13:26 to 14:25).

Are there perhaps blessings you have asked for but then have refused to pursue? Have you been hanging back in the waiting room – perhaps because you’ve allowed fear to convince you it’s better to be safe and ineffective than risk being used of God?

The waiting room has its purpose. It is the place where you get mentally ready for what comes next. You are not meant to live there. You were designed for the world outside. And it waits for you!

Dear Lord, enable us this day to throw off self-doubts and fear so that we may obey You, serve You and live out our purpose for You. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and empower us to do all that you have called and equipped us to do. Forgive us for being content with sitting in the waiting room when you’ve called us to come out. Ignite in us a passion to live our faith loudly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Birthday Wishes for Yahweh Sistas

Wanted to give a shout out "Happy Birthday" to my friend Heidi Brizendine whose birthday is today. My birthday is tomorrow (think I'll buy myself an MP3 player - happy birthday to me). Also, "happy birthday" to my friend Lysa TerKeurst whose birthday is Saturday. If anyone asks, we're all turning 29. ;)

Now if only we were all three in the same town, we could go out to lunch and celebrate ... maybe order some "chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side!" :)

My hometown girlfriends are taking me out this evening for a manicure and some java. Getting older isn't so bad - it has its perks (no pun intended). Actually its not the getting older I mind because with age comes wisdom and lots of good memories. Its the getting wrinklier and flabbier I'm not in love with. Thank goodness they have creams and elliptical machines for that!

Happy Birthday, girls.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My beloved comma

I'm a "classically trained" journalism major from the late 1980s. (Yes, my 37th birthday approaches this Friday, but please don't tell anyone.) My first feature articles, written for Dr. Braddock's class, were written with - gulp - a typewriter. Not until my senior year was I using a computer with an early version of WordPerfect. So it's been 15 years since I graduated with my degree, and with the Associated Press rules of writing drilled into my starry-eyed head. At the risk of sounding even more ancient than I've already confessed to be, I just don't understand the writing of today... throwing commas by the wayside and starting sentences with conjunctions. P31 Magazine editor Glynnis Whitwer and I occasionally marvel together about the changes in writing norms. But I guess (see I did it), you have to keep current with the times to be relevant.

I found another solider-in-arms lamenting the comma's rapid decline. Read about The Sad Fate of the Comma. You go, Samuelson!

PS. I used seven commas in this post, plus two parenthesis, two dashes, two quote marks, three hyphens and one ellipsis. Actually, after this post script the total comma count is twelve.

PSS. I'm sure I made some writing mistakes in this post. It's probably Murphy's Law since I'm writing about correct writing. I'm also sure Glynnis will point them out to me, so you don't need to. :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

ICRS overview

In this post I'll tell you about the "business" end of my ICRS trip. The first day I sat down for an hour with two of my editors/publishers from Harvest House and discussed my next book idea. I have genuinely liked every Harvest House employee I've ever met and these two were no exception. A couple days later, I met with two of the marketing team to review their exciting plans for my upcoming release God's Purpose for Every Woman. It will be available the first of August and you can pre-order your copy at I really hope you will get your hands on a copy and write a review of it for Amazon or Barnes & Nobel - I know you'll be blessed by these devotions!

The second day I attended a luncheon for Advanced Writers and Speakers, where Lysa was the keynote speaker. Her message - that Jesus should be enough for us, not Jesus plus a best-seller or Jesus plus a big arena event - was spot on. The P31 gals were sitting together and we all felt just a little prouder to call Lysa our leader when she was done. Later that evening I went to a dinner for the Harvest House authors and staff held at Atlanta's beautiful Botanical Gardens. Some of the H.H. authors I enjoyed meeting were Mary DeMuth, Leslie Vernik, Lori Wick, Kay Arthur, and Pam Ferrel to name a few. While there I also met my friend Gwen Smith's producer, Dave Clark. He is a hit song writer who's spent many years in the gospel music business. He's humble as he can be and a pure joy to talk with. I think I spent most of the evening chatting with Dave. Here's a picture Gwen took of Dave & I:

I met with Rob and Ashley Eager of Wildfire Marketing. They are young and bring some fresh ideas to the table for how to get your messages out to the masses. I met with Shawn McEvoy, my contact for the P31 devotions at It was good to put a face with the name I email with every couple of weeks. He was great and in the future you'll likely see some feature articles by me and other P31 writers on their women's channel. You'll want to check out Crosswalk's massive Christian website site if you haven't lately.

There were a few other meetings ... mostly just networking with other speakers and authors, or accompanying Lysa (P31 president and my co-author for God's Purpose) to some meetings. When I'd get the chance, I'd walk the ICRS floor looking at all the offerings by the various authors and publishers. Occasionaly I'd stand in line at a book signing for a copy of a new release - or Marybeth would and get an extra copy for me. I loved that. I've always loved books. My dream home would have a Christian bookstore attached! Stayed tuned for more tales from my trip.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

post ICRS conference "whiplash"

I returned home from the 2007 ICRS (christian book convention) yesterday in time to meet my kids after VBS. It was a great trip, but after 5 days away, I was aching to see my family. The kids and I spent the afternoon snuggling on the couch and reading the children's books I'd brought them. OK, so I dozed in and out of consciousness while on that couch but I couldn't help it. After a whirlwind trip of meetings, lots of new information, and plenty of fun with girlfriends I don't often get to see, I felt I had "whiplash" after coming home. I always feel this way after a big conference or big retreat. Its that I-need-a vacation-to-recover-from-my-trip feeling. But it was all so worth it. I'll post more later on my trip. Off to unpack and do laundry (my least favorite task).

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Sushi World

My neighborhood backs up to a marsh - down the road is a long pier that extends into the middle of the waterway. The pier was my destination for today's early morning walk. As I stood on the dock gazing down at the brackish water, I noticed tiny little fish jumping out of the water in the early dawn light. Gulls occasionally swooped down, snagging them up as they jumped. So I wondered - why the jumping? Then I noticed, they were being chased to the surface by larger fish looking to eat some breakfast.

I imagined life for these tiny fish. It'd be one thing to be eaten by a bird - an unknown predator stalking from the sky - but to be eaten by one of your own kind, right in your own backyard?! Slowly it dawned on me that people are not so different. You'd think we'd have more compassion for our own kind. Often we'll work to save the trees or the whales (that's good) but then treat our own family, neighbors or the poor among us harshly. I don't want to live in a fish-eat-fish world. Yet, I realized this morning that compassion is not something I pray for very often.

I don't want to chase others away with my impatience, or bite their heads off with my irritability. But I know it will take the power of Christ in me, directing my thoughts and actions, to avoid doing that. So today I'm praying for compassion to fill my heart, and kindness to coat my tongue.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you." ~ Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)