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March 2010

Spring is my absolute favorite time of the year with its fresh scent of new life, blossoms bursting forth from the frozen earth, and the cleansing showers washing away the cold, dark memories of winter. Spring is truly the season of hope!

So, please visit every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for spring-fresh hope and humor.



TULIPS COVERED WITH SNOW
"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (The Bible, 3 John 2).





Wednesday, March 31, 2010



Finely-aged believers

[I wrote this column for a minister's magazine, but it aptly applies to any follower of Christ.]

Great pastors age like fine wine (except for my denomination where pastors age like fine unfermented grape juice.) These are the men and women who, as St. Paul writes, "comfort those with the comfort they


WINE BOTTLE

themselves have received from the God of all comfort."

Sure, there are young men and women, still wet behind the clerical collar, who make good pastors, but it's like comparing grape Kool-Aid with a fine Cabernet Franc Bordeaux (my Presbyterian pastor friend's favorite). But to be a sparkling, well-balanced pastor with earthy character and a long, pleasing finish, you've gotta get squeezed in the winepress of life.

I have to admit, fresh out of school with ordination certificate in hand, I was not the best at pastoral care: a heady minister with a strong, bitter after-taste.

If someone came into the office complaining of
depression, I simply told them they weren't praying and reading their Bible enough. "Paul warns us to think on those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, so just think on those things and you'll be fine." Until, I was diagnosed with clinical depression!

[More]

Email me at jim@jameswatkins.com to share your thoughts.

Hope and humor for those being squeezed: Squeezing Good Out of Bad



Monday, March 29, 2010



Resources for writers

I've had a wonderful time among the giant redwoods, ferns and streams of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference. (You expect the furry little Ewoks from Star Wars to be frolicking in the shadows.)

Here are links to the two classes I taught:
Communicating to change lives
Writing with banana peels



MOUNT HERMON CHRISTIAN CONFERENCE CENTER

It's been a time of encouragement (three publishers asked to see proposals for three different books) and discouragement (fewer publishers are producing fewer titles by fewer authors). I've been commenting on the conference on my
Facebook and Twitter pages.

Early tomorrow morning, I'll be packing my three-ounce-or-less liquids, gels and aerosols in a one-quart plastic bag as I get ready to run the security gauntlet to fly back to the desolate prairie of Corn Borer, Indiana. And so . . .



Top ten things not to say at airport security

I have in my right hand, direct from the WiFi hot spot in Mount Hermon's Central Lounge, today's category: Top Ten Things Not to Say at Airport Security.

10. So, you're one of those under-paid, under-trained slackers I've read about.

9. Hey (as you duck for cover), be careful with the box.

8. Hi . . . if the security officer is named Jack.

7. Just a little lower to the left with that wand. Oh, yah, right there.

6. I'm not taking off my belt without at least dinner and a movie.

[More]

You, too, can earn minimum wage writing humor: Writing with Banana Peels



Friday, March 26, 2010



It's only temporary

I have a friend whose answer to every trying situation is "It's only temporary." That's great advice as the economy continues to crumble, unemployment increases, homes are foreclosed, and pensions devalue. It's only temporary.

Nothing lasts forever: finishing school, looking for work, working the grave-yard shift, potty training, junior high band


TEMPORARY SIGN

concerts, raising teenagers, IRS audits, stock market meltdowns, medical crises, etc. It's only temporary.

For those who trust in God, life itself is only temporary. Eugene Peterson paraphrases 1 Peter 5 this way:


You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does (1 Peter 5:9b-11 MSG).

Second Corinthians 4:16-18 continues the theme.


So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

It's only temporary! Even junior high band concerts.

Email me at
jim@jameswatkins.com to share your thoughts. Thanks!

Hope and humor for tough times: Squeezing Good Out of Bad



Top ten ways to avoid talkative air travelers

On today's flight from Dallas to San Jose, a man behind me talked to his brand new BFF non-stop for the three-and-a-half-hour flight! So, I have in my right hand, direct from my temporary office here at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference, top ten ways to avoid talkative air travelers:

10. I'm sorry. Did you say something or are the voices back?

9. Would you like to hear about an amazing multi-level marketing opportunity?

8. Yo no hablo Inglés.

7. Wanna see pictures of my cats?

6. (Hold index and middle fingers together, bring together with extended thumb which is "no" in sign language.)

5. Typhoid isn't contagious, is it?

4. (No humber 4. Hiding in miniature toilet to avoid talkative seat mate.)

3. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. . . .

2. If you were to die tonight, where would be spend eternity?

1. I'm an author. Wanna hear about my books?

Write your own top ten lists! Learn how to entertain your family, friends, co-workers and total strangers with Writing with Banana Peels



This week on TwitterFace

Charlie Peacock had a great line last night at Mount Hermon: "There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money." So true!

An editor wants to see a proposal for a book of humor for seniors. SENIORS?! (Wasn't I writing just a few years ago for senior HIGHERS?!)

On way to conference, asked Indian driver if we could stop for a hamburger. Oops! Hope I'm more sensitive at the Mount Hermon writers conf.

When the going gets tough . . . call the urologist. (From Writing with Banana Peels)

March madness! Cleveland Clinic reports number of vasectomies jumps by 50% week b'ball playoffs begin to get time off to watch games.

Weather not OK in OKC: thunderstorms tonight; 4-6 inches of snow tomorrow night. Mother nature has PMS!



Have a joyous Palm Sunday!

I'll be celebrating Palm Sunday at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference in the redwoods of northern California. Whereever you are, I trust it's a joyous day as Christians celebrate Christ's first triumphal entry into Jerusalem and anticipate His second triumphal entry when He returns to set up His kingdom. (And that space of time is only temporary!)

Click here for Holy Week and Easter articles and resources.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010



'Yep, I'm intolerant'

I'm coming out of the politically correct closet and announcing to the world, "Yep! I'm intolerant!"

For instance, do you really want to go to an "open-minded" doctor with signs in the waiting room that read: "I Brake for Bacteria." "Save the Salmonella." "Take a Stand for Polio!" I want a doctor who is narrow-minded and completely intolerant to disease and physical afflictions when I'm told, "Turn your head and cough."



WATCH POST ON YOUTUBE

Watch this on YouTube
And I'm not getting on a plane with a pilot who comes over the intercom with, "Welcome aboard Lame Duck Airlines. We'll be traveling at whatever speed and altitude feels good at the time and should be arriving at our destination in time for "happy hour." So, put your seat in recline position, hold on tight to your carry-ons, and we'll be ready for take-off as soon as we cut off that 747 on our way to the runaway." (Where did he say the emergency exits were?!)

How about a tolerant mechanic at the brake shop? "I don't like to use the words 'safe' or 'unsafe' when it comes to brake shoes. I prefer to think of them having mechanical diversity."

[
More]

Email me at jim@jameswatkins.com to share your comments. Thanks!

Hope and humor for humor writers: Writing with Banana Peels



Monday, March 22, 2010



Those who sow in tears . . .

As we continue looking at seasons, I'm encouraged by Psalm 126:

    Those who sow in tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
    He who goes out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
    will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with him.



WHEAT FROM FREEFOTO.COM

The late, great preacher Charles Spurgeon comments:


. . . present distress must not be viewed as if it would last for ever; it is not the end, by any means, but only a means to the end. Sorrow is our sowing, rejoicing shall be our reaping. If there were no sowing in tears there would be no reaping in joy. If we were never captives we could never lead our captivity captive. Our mouth had never been filled with holy laughter if it had not been first filled with the bitterness of grief. We must sow: we may have to sow in the wet weather of sorrow; but we shall reap, and reap in the bright summer season of joy. Let us keep to the work of this present sowing time, and find strength in the promise which is here so positively given us. Here is one of the Lord's shalls and wills; it is freely given both to workers, waiters, and weepers, and they may rest assured that it will not fail: "in due season they shall reap."

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. He leaves his couch to go forth into the frosty air and tread the heavy soil; and as he goes he weeps because of past failures, or because the ground is so sterile, or the weather so unseasonable, or his corn so scarce, and his enemies so plentiful and so eager to rob him of his reward. He drops a seed and a tear, a seed and a tear, and so goes on his way. In his basket he has seed which is precious to him, for he has little of it, and it is his hope for the next year. Each grain leaves his hand with anxious prayer that it may not be lost: he thinks little of himself, but much of his seed, and he eagerly asks, "Will it prosper? shall I receive a reward for my labour?" Yes, good husbandman, doubtless you will gather sheaves from your sowing. Because the Lord has written doubtless, take heed that you do not doubt. No reason for doubt can remain after the Lord has spoken. You will return to this field—not to sow, but to reap; not to weep, but to rejoice; and after awhile you will go home again with nimbler step than today, though with a heavier load, for you shall have sheaves to bear with you.

Thanks, Chuck, I needed that!

Email me at
jim@jameswatkins.com to share your thoughts.



Friday, March 19, 2010



Tomorrow is spring!

As I mentioned Wednesday, I hate winter, but there is a reason for every season.

Nichole Nordeman beautifully reminds us of that in this wonderful video featuring her song "Every Season" with scenes from Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia. Enjoy!

Email me at jim@jameswatkins.com to share an encouraging video.




Large size



This week on TwitterFace

Here are this week's favorite posts from my Twitter and Facebook pages:

Listening to how the vote on health care reform is being handled, I think I'm going to be sick.

[Saint Patrick's Day] is the day many celebrate a saint by doing all kinds of un-saintly things. Yes, our world is certifiably crazy!

Look, responding to a question with that word is rude and condescending.

Lois and I were discussing where all the money we save by not using booze and drugs goes—to prescription medication expenses. So, we're thinking of taking that money and spending it on beer and pot. We'd probably feel much better!

Teddy, our chow-shep-sky, is trained to paw at my leg when he needs out. Wait, a minute, he has ME trained!



Wednesday, March 17, 2010



Seasons have their reasons

I hate winter! But Henry Blackaby notes the importance of the cold, dark seasons of life:


Just as God planned seasons in nature, He planned seasons in life as well. Life has its springtime, when we begin new things and look excitedly toward the future. Summer comes and we work diligently in the heat of the day at all that


FLOWERS IN SNOW


God has assigned to us. With autumn comes the fruition of things begun at an earlier time in our lives. Winter brings an end to a particular period in our lives. Sometimes winter brings hardship, but we remain hopeful, for another spring is just around the corner!

In God's perfect design for our lives, He has planned for times of fruitfulness and activity. He will also build in times of quiet and rest. There will be times when He asks us to remain faithful doing the same work day after day. But there will also be periods of excitement and new beginnings. By God's grace, we will enjoy seasons of harvesting the fruit of our faithfulness. By God's grace we will also overcome the cold winters of heartache and grief, for without winter there would be no spring. Just as it is with the seasons of nature, these seasons in our lives work together to bring about God's perfect will for each one of us.

Peggy Simon Curry shares a similar thought in "How to Get out of a Creative Rut" from the January 2010 issue of The Writer. As she observes farmers feeding cattle in winter . . .


Deep in those haystacks, covered with snow, was the green and fragrant heart of summer. No matter how cold the day, a man could dig down and find the green. He could smell again the timothy and clover.

I sat for a long time that morning, hearing the voices of the men and the occasional bawling of a cow. It came to me that winter meadows were an inevitable part of every life, but in such meadows there were always lumps of snow-drifted green, the gathered and fragrant harvest of living.

Email me at
jim@jameswatkins.com to share your thoughts on seasons.



Police called to control crowd at book signing

Okay, not really, but a good turnout, conversations and sales at the Upland public library's book reading/signing last night. Thanks to everyone who came!

If you weren't there, you can still buy my books at jameswatkins.com-missary. You just don't get an autograph and dark chocolate.



Monday, March 15, 2010



Hope for a new week

I'm looking forward to a brand new shiny week because, frankly, last week sucked like the Ultra Blower 12 gallon 4.5 hp Shop-Vac—with 2 1/2 inch hose! Thankfully, there is hope!


Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.
    2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT


Email me at
jim@jameswatkins.com to contribute an encouraging scripture. Thanks!

Hope and humor when life sucks: Squeezing Good Out of Bad



Friday, March 12, 2010



I'd love to meet you at the . . .

Upland public library: March 15 5-7 pm

Please, please, please. If you live close to beautiful downtown Upland, Indiana, please spare me the humiliation of no one showing up at Tuesday's book reading/signing!

I'll be giving away free books and dark chocolate! Name your price!



UPLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY

During the last half of March, I'll be speaking at . . .

American Christian Writers'Conference: March 19-20 Oklahoma City, OK

Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference: March 26-30 Mount Hermon, CA

Hope and humor for writers: Communicate to Change Lives, Writers on Writing, Writing with Banana Peels [humor writing]



This week on TwitterFace

Here are this week's favorite posts from my Twitter and Facebook pages:

Toyota says it's standing behind its vehicles. Well, of course, you don't think they're going to stand in front of them?

Just received a letter from the Census Bureau telling me that in a week I'll receive a letter from the Census Bureau!

Told four-year-old granddaughter, Hannah, I was teaching a college class tonight. Her response: "You can't be a teacher! You're a papaw!"



Wednesday, March 10, 2010



Living in the gap

As a teen, our daughter would have loved to live in The Gap, the trendy clothing store at the mall. Many of us live in the gap, but it's a gaping hole between jobs or perhaps relationships. There are gaps in our health (three surgeries at three hospitals in two months for one stubborn kidney stone). No one wants to live in those gaps, but they are inevitable.



LIVING IN THE GAP

There are two major gaps in the life of
Jesus. Twelve years separate the story of Christ as an infant and Christ as a twelve-year old. Then an eighteen-year gap between twelve-years old and the beginning of his ministry at age thirty.

Luke 2 fills in those gaps with two short verses. Between infancy and pre-teen:


There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him (2:40).


And between twelve and thirty:


And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people (2:52).


We rarely think of Jesus, the Son of God, needing to grow in wisdom and maturity, but that is exactly what Luke records.

As gaps open up in my life, my first reaction is to panic or get depressed. But the gap is also a time that God, in His grace, can help us to mature and grow through the experience.

Are you living in the gap? I pray that God's grace and the blessing of the people who love you, will make this a time of spiritual growth. And I pray that it won't last twelve or eighteen years!

[Originally posted June 15, 2009, while I was undergoing radiaction treatments for cancer. I've been cancer-free from 18 months!]

Some additional thoughts on gaps:
Some thoughts on life's tough questions
God is never late?but He sure is slow
Squeezing Good Out of Bad

Email me at jim@jameswatkins.com to share your thoughts.

Hope and humor for those in the gap: Squeezing Good Out of Bad



Keeping your dream alive

Here's audio of my keynote talk at the recent Writing for the Soul conference. (It's one of my favorite talks filled with hope and humor.) Click here for a printed summary.



Monday, March 8, 2010



Life is difficult . . .

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
    M. Scott Peck from The Road Less Traveled

Email me at
jim@jameswatkins.com to contribute an encouraging quotation.



Speaking at Grace College tonight

I'll be speaking to Dr. Terry White's writing students at Grace College in beautiful Winona Lake, Indiana. I'll be sharing seven habits of the purpose-driven writer.

Hope and humor for writers: Communicate to Change Lives, Writers on Writing, Writing with Banana Peels [humor writing]



Friday, March 5, 2010



Beyond Viagra: what women really want

While Viagra may have benefitted many men, our research department indicates that the following medications are in far greater demand among women consumers.

"Forget Viagra, Pfizer! Here's what's really needed," one woman responded.

Biagra


CRIAGRA BLUE PILLS

Has been shown to reduce anxiety attacks in males often associated with shopping malls and flea markets.

Criagra
Preliminary testing confirms the drug unclogs male tear ducts during weddings and "chick flicks."

[
More]

Email me at jim@jameswatkins.com to suggest your own miracle drug.

Hope and humor for comedy writers: Writing with Banana Peels



Twittering my life away . . .

And while I'm taking a break from the serious series on seasons, here are some of my latest Twitter posts:

"Follow me. And not just on Twitter!" Jesus (from The Twitter Bible)

I'm not overweight, I'm underheight!

A friend of mine was excused as a juror because he had severe diarrhea. Would that be "jury dootie"?

"Meology: Self-centered doctrine" (From Writing with Banana peels)

A good writer has tough hide and a tender heart. Click for resources

It seems all my friends have been through the mill. Hopefully all that planing and sanding is conforming us to the image of the Carpenter!



Wednesday, March 3, 2010



The King of tides


The desert and the parched land will be glad . . . they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God (Isaiah 35:1a, 2e).

Surrounded by lush ferns, towering cedar pines, and majestic mountains, the tidal basin of Washington's Puget Sound lies flat and lifeless. Only dead branches, rotting


SUNSET FROM FREEFOTO.COM

logs, and old tires emerge from this salt-dried waste land of brownish gray.

But hours later, the silver-plated sea spreads out across the barren land covering it with the sunset's burgundy, mauve, and dark pink colors.

Two times each day, 365 days a year, a "dry and thirsty land where there is no water" is transformed into sea of glorious colors.

Perhaps we, as God's creations, also experience the ebb and flow of emotional and spiritual tides. We climb lush mountain sides and descend into valleys gray with death. We taste the freshness of living water and the dry, salty taste of dust.

Maybe it is the harsh ebb and flow of life and death that hone our sensitivity to our world and our God—life and death, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, and the glory of God and the despair of this world.

For instance, in the past few weeks, I've enjoyed the joyful splashes of celebrating our grands' birthdays, having a picnic in Hannah and Kaylah's tree house and reconnecting with writer friends at Mount Hermon. It's also been a dry, gray weekend waiting for ultrasound test results that will reveal the viability of our unborn grandchild.

Through it all, the unchanging rhythm of the tide gives us hope that refreshment always follows dryness. And, above it all, shines the glory of God.

(Originally posted April 27, 2009. Paul and Amy lost the baby. Copyright © 1988, 2009 James N. Watkins)

Email me at
jim@jameswatkins.com to share your thoughts.

Hope and humor for those at low tide: Squeezing Good Out of Bad



Monday, March 1, 2010



For everything there is a season

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to
    build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT



"The Byrds" musical version
(Click here for larger size)



Help for hopelessness . . .

The recent high-profile suicides of singer Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son as well as former "Growing Pains" actor, Andrew Koenig, have put the spotlight on the hopelessness of those who take their own lives.

Please remember, suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem. There is help and hope for depression or whatever


SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT RESPONSE TO A TEMPORARY PROBLEM

situation you are facing.

Click here for resources if you or a friend is thinking about suicide.



Top ten Web pages from February

I have in my right hand—direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana—February's top ten most popular pages at jameswatkins.com. [January's ranking]

1.
Home page [1]

2. "I just want to die" [2]

3. Were United States founding fathers Christian? [3]

4. Dealing with death and grief [4]

5. Top ten reasons I'm not divorcing my wife [5]

6. Does DNA disprove evolution? [7]

7. The hidden habit: masturbation [8]

8. Encouraging quotations [7]

9. What does the Bible really say? [9]

10. Three secrets to xxx-ceptional sex [26]




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Recent posts

Finely-aged believers

Resources for writers

Top ten things not to say at airport security

It's only temporary

Top ten ways to avoid talkative air travelers

This week on TwitterFace: 3

"Yep, I'm intolerant"

Those who sow in tears . . .

Tomorrow is spring! VIDEO

This week on TwitterFace: 2

Seasons have their reasons

Hope for a new week

I'd love to meet you at . . .

This week on TwitterFace

Living in the gap

Keeping your dreams alive MP3 RECORDING

Life is difficult

Beyond Viagra: what women really want

Twittering my life away . . .

The King of tides

For everything there is a
season VIDEO


Help for hopelessness . . .

Top ten pages

February 2010

April 2010




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