Monday, December 14, 2009

Giving--the Secret to Success



Only ten days until Christmas Eve! Giving is such a big part of the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Some would say too big. You may agree, especially if you’re like me and don’t have your shopping finished. LOL But Christmas began with a gift. The Gift. God gave His only Son. So it’s only natural that we show our love with gifts, both the wrapped kind and less tangible variety involving our talent and time.

The best part—giving isn’t just appropriate at Christmas. In fact I believe giving may be the secret to success.

As writers, we have our individual goals. How will we achieve them? What sacrifices will we make? What efforts to grow and learn will we take? What agonies will we overcome? Every single one!

Why?

We have something to give. The goal isn’t just getting. Getting that manuscript published, getting money and recognition, getting on the New York Bestseller list. Though we might be working our butts off to get there, let’s face it, we can’t control whether we get our goals.

But we can control giving. I'd like to suggest the following ways we can give that will make this world a better place and just might bring us success.

Giving ourselves to God. Putting Him first. Building a relationship with Him. Using our time and talent for Him.

Giving our undivided attention to others. Not pretending to listen while we plot or write, but living in the moment, sharing ourselves. Glynna talked about Living Intentionally in her November 25 Seekerville post. It's well worth a second read.

Giving to ourselves. Holing up to write is essential. After all books don't write themselves. But we need exercise, healthy food, rest, spiritual food, fun. Make time for you. If you don't re-charge your batteries, you won't have anything left to give.

Giving to others. Using our time and talent to help others along the way. We can help other writers by mentoring, judging contests, critiquing or something as simple as a word of encouragement.

Giving our innermost selves to our craft. Pouring our hearts onto the page is hard, but when we do, we will give our readers a story that lifts, heals, strengthens and entertains. A lofty goal, it’s worth every ounce of our blood, sweat and tears. Let’s not be stingy by holding back.

Giving ourselves a chance to succeed. Dream big. Set goals. And work hard to achieve them. Don't waste the talent God gave.

I believe Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Sounds like give is spelled L-O-V-E

In keeping with the theme, I’m giving away a copy of my February release The Substitute Bride.
Fleeing an arranged marriage, debutante Elizabeth Manning exchanges places with a mail-order bride bound for New Harmony, Iowa. Life on the frontier can’t be worse than forced wedlock to pay her father’s gambling debts. But Ted Logan’s rustic lifestyle and rambunctious children prove to be more of a challenge than Elizabeth expects. She doesn’t know how to be a mother or a wife. She doesn’t even know how to tell Ted the truth about her past—especially as her feelings for him grow. Little does she know, Ted’s hiding secrets of his own, and when their pasts collide, there’s more than one heart at stake.

Leave a comment to enter the drawing. Perhaps you’d like to share how someone has helped you or some strategies prioritizing your life so you have time to give.

And speaking of giving, I can’t tell you what it means to me to come to Seekerville and find familiar faces, our dear friends and followers. Thank you for taking the time to come and to share your thoughts and yes, even your cyber goodies. You bless the Seekers each and every day!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Janet

86 comments :

  1. Great post, Janet. All of your points are well made and I certainly agree with them. Generosity is God's heart so how can we not succeed through generosity?

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  2. Ah, Janet.

    Giving. What wonderful thoughts for a God-given grace of time, my friend!

    S-W-E-E-T...

    So today...

    I'm giving....

    Cybernetically speaking, of course...

    Fresh coffee with a host of party creamers because Rick Warren gives us permission to celebrate good times (like I NEED permission, LOL!) and it's time to seriously party...

    Give....

    Partake....

    Watch "The Muppet Christmas Carol".

    So there's a full breakfast repaste of bagels, eggs, thick-sliced, pan-fried bacon, grits for my Southern friends, fried with more than a hint of bacon grease, biscuits and gravy, fruit for the health-conscious among us, Danish for me and others who really don't care, and...

    Chocolate.

    Gotta have chocolate.

    :)

    Chocolate is the breakfast of champions in Ruthy-world.

    Janet, you rock, sister!

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  3. Thanks for the much needed reminder, Janet. God certainly gives us the perfect example of 'giving'-inspiration indeed.

    Blessings,
    Pepper

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  4. Oh Ruthy,
    And THANKS for the yummy breakfast. Sure beats cereal

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  5. What a great post and interesting new book that you have out.

    Jo
    ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

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  6. Hi, Janet!!!!!!!!!!! Your book sounds so good! I love mail-order bride stories! I'm going to put it on my Amazon wish list as soon as I get done here. I predict an Amazon order in my future. :-)

    I love to write. I NEED to write. But I also need a balance, and giving is at the core of loving, isn't it? And to love is biggest part of Christianity. Thanks for this post! Here's a big hug from me [[[[[HUG]]]]]

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  7. We got a whole box of Chocolate Charlie's (because DH was grocery shopping ;-)

    So I'd like to give it away. It's locally made candy -- chocolate covered marshamallows and peanuts, all in one big slab like peanut brittle.

    Please! Have some! I don't need to eat the whole box.

    As far as giving, I am often convicted that I need to give the Lord and very important people in my life undivided attention.

    That's really hard for me. My prayer is that the Lord will make my family life mistakes work out for good.

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  8. Janet, I love this reminder! It's so easy to get swept up in the commericalism of Christmas that we forget what Christmas is REALLY about.

    Giving.

    Just like God gave us His Son on that original Christmas.

    Thanks for the reality check. I love the reminder to replenish our wells. How can we give to others when we have nothing to give?

    And Melanie? All predictions are Madame Zelda's territory : ) Tune in December 31st and see what the new year brings!

    Thanks Janet! I still love the cover of your book : )

    And Thanks Ruthy for all the goodies! My Weight Watchers membership is put on hold until January : )

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  9. Janet, thank you for a thoughtful and very on-target blog. Your emphasis on giving--particularly to the Lord--is so appropriate at any time of the year.

    Blessings to you!

    Rick Barry

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  10. Hi Dianna, you got to the heart of the matter. Thanks! If you want in the drawing, please leave your e-mail address.

    Janet

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  11. Ruthy, thanks for providing such an awesome spread this morning. Love the breakfast of champions in Ruthy-world!

    Janet

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  12. Thanks Pepper! Now if I can just do what I say. That's the hard part and the reason so many of us make New Year's Resolutions. :-)

    Janet

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  13. AMEN, Janet, great post and very timely!

    Our church is part of a movement called Advent Conspiracy where you try to increase the giving of your "presence" and decrease the giving of "presents." I think giving of yourself and your time/love is the greatest gift of all.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  14. Morning Janet, Great post and reminder of who we really are. Not just writers, but givers.

    And I want to thank all of you at Seekerville for giving so much of yourselves. And you Seekerville readers too:

    Giving support.

    Giving helpful advice.

    Giving great cyber food. yummmm

    Giving encouragement.

    Giving craft tips.

    Giving us laughs in this crazy business.

    Giving us LOVE.

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  15. Thanks for the cyber hug, Melanie! That's better than Ruthy's food and that's saying a lot!

    You're right. Balance is key. I'm sure we're all juggling crazy schedules right now. Finding time for the important is hard.

    You're sweet to be so excited about The Substitute Bride. :-) Thanks!

    Janet

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  16. Thanks for your interest in my book, Jo! And an even bigger thanks for remembering your e-mail address!

    Janet

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  17. Ann, thanks! The chocolate is delicious. You and Ruthy know how to feed a writer's heart. :-)

    I suspect most of us struggle with giving God and family our undivided attention. Thank goodness God and family see us through loving eyes.

    Janet

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  18. Audra, the heroine of The Substitute Bride is mischievous so the cover suits her.

    I'm with you! I have no trouble being intentional when it comes to eating. Christmas goodies get my undivided attention. LOL

    Janet

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  19. Hi Rick! Thanks for your kind words and the blessings. I wish you the same.

    Merry Christmas!
    Janet

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  20. I'm trying to teach my daughter to give. She is only two and a half. A couple days ago we went to the dollar general and bought a couple things for kids in the need. I explained to her that Jesus gave himself for us, so that we should give to others.

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  21. Julie, The Advent Conspiracy is a fabulous idea! More presence, less presents. Reminds me of Missy's A Forever Christmas. Wonder if my grandkids will buy into it? LOL

    Janet

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  22. Well said, Sandra! Our friends and followers rock!!!!

    Janet

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  23. Josie, God bless your little girl and you for showing her the meaning of Christmas. All the commercials can make children greedy. Adults too. Giving is the antidote.

    Janet

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  24. Hi Janet!

    Tis the season for giving! Ahhhh how I love this time of year!
    Kerri

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  25. Great post, Janet. Thanks for keeping everything in perspective this season.

    Hugs!
    Cheryl

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  26. My family already has so much, that it's great to give to needy children, i.e., Angel Tree, local charities, those with less money. Great post.
    Would love to be entered for the giveaway. Thank you.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  27. I can't believe it is almost Christmas.

    I like it that you say as writers we overcome all of our obstacles. Now that's positive thinking!

    No need to enter me in the drawing, but I will be reading it, too. I love mail order brides stories.

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  28. Lovely - my favorite part of Christmas has always been giving. Thanks for highlighting it.

    And thanks for the chance to win your book - yeah!

    kvbwrites(at)gmail(dot)com

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  29. Janet, it sounds like a wonderful premise.

    As for giving, coffee and chocolate is always good. You can also have coffee sent to the troops, if you like (which I understand is appreciated).

    My e-mail: wmussell[at]hotmail[dot]com.

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  30. Excellent post, Janet! And I believe so true. Thanks for sharing. I especially needed that giving ourselves time for all the other stuff besides writing--like having a life! :)

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  31. Lovely post, Janet, and a timely reminder. There are so many ways to give, not only to others but to ourselves. I don't think we're being selfish when we take good care of ourselves. It only makes us healthier and stronger to be of loving service to others.

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  32. Hi Kerri, I'm like a kid when it comes to Christmas. I tend to get myself overbooked, then feel pressured with my unfinished To Do list. But somehow it always works out.

    Janet

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  33. Thank you, Janet! And Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  34. Hi Cheryl! Keeping everything in perspective at Christmas is easier said than done. But I'm working on it. :-)

    Janet

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  35. Linda, thanks for sharing great ideas for giving to others. And thanks for your interest in The Substitute Bride. Hurray that you remembered to leave your e-mail addy.

    Janet

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  36. Hi Crystal. Since you love mail-order bride stories, you might want to think about writing one. They're such fun!

    Janet

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  37. Karin, Thanks for entering. I love your excitement and it's contagious. :-) I can't wait to see The Substitute Bride on the shelves!

    Janet

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  38. Thanks, Walt, for remembering our troops. I can't imagine how lonely they must feel to be separated from their families at Christmas. I'd never have thought they'd like to receive coffee.

    Janet

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  39. Missy, to quote one of my favorite Christmas movies--It's a Wonderful Life. We don't want to miss it. :-)

    Janet

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  40. I would love to read this book, the cover is beautiful! Thank you so much for the chance!

    libraryhelper(at)harneyesd(dot)k12(dot)or(dot)us

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  41. Myra, the first thing I drop in December is working out. But I don't beat myself up about it. No point in harming my mental health too. LOL

    Janet

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  42. Casey, you're welcome. Writing The Substitute Bride was fun. I hope it's a fun for my readers too. Thanks for entering!

    Janet

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  43. Dear janet, your blog went right along with the message at church yesterday about giving. Thanks for this opportunity to win your new book hot off the presses! May you and yours have a merry celebration of our Lord's birth.

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  44. To the lovely Seeker ladies,
    Don't forget that (yes, you're having fun, but. . .) your time here, your support, encouragement and positive attitudes have been a gift to the Seeker followers and groupies. I come here, I RECEIVE because you give!

    One nice benefit for me of being cheap is that when I make something as a gift, I get so much more enjoyment out of it compared to running my plastic card through the little machine.
    It brings back the joy of giving.

    (I could really go for some peanut brittle now. Who brought that up?!)

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  45. I love the sound of this book, Janet. I can't wait to get my hands on it. FEBRUARY!!! I thought it was sooner than that.

    Well, I'll give it to myself as a Merry...Valentine's Day present.

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  46. Hi All;

    A question about giving:

    Has anyone thought of incorporating a genuine and little known charity in a romance? Look what some creative writer did for Boys Town!

    I have a favorite charity operation on the Amazon River that I’d like to publicize by incorporating in a romance.

    Given legal considerations, does anyone think this would be possible to do today?


    Thanks,

    Vince

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  47. This book sounds so interesting. Thanks for having a giveaway.
    katey(dot)1m(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  48. Hey Janet!
    Wonderful and thought-provoking post today : ) I knew it would be good when I saw that you were posting and then heard it was about giving!!

    I feel that I give quite a bit away(not to sound self-centered or anything... : /), actually. I think my biggest contribution so far to society or my community, my old elementary school, however you wanna put it, is by creating and executing Hannah's READ Program. I had a conversation with you about it, Janet, so I know you know what it is. I feel so good when I am working on it : ) It hardly feels like "work" when I'm with the kids! I'm quite proud of this accomplishment and hold it very close to my heart.

    However, I have to agree with Debra about how much you (the Seekers) have done for me. I appreciate you all more than you might ever know, so thank you! When someone gives, someone else recieves and I am one of the numerous recievers of your daily love and inspiration!
    Thank you!!
    Hannah

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  49. A wonderful reminder of the spirit of Christmas...I believe it's better 'to give than to receive.'

    You latest books sounds wonderful.

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)Com

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  50. Okay...

    FIRST OF ALL...

    Melanie's cyber hug is in no way, shape or form better than Ruthy-cyber-food.

    Sheesh. I could get off easy and send cyber hugs, too, but NO...

    I COOK...

    THEN I CLEAN UP....

    AND THEN I MAKE MORE FOOD!!!

    I'm WICKED TIRED just thinking about it.

    Now I'm cyber sighing.... SIGH...

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  51. good post Janet.
    I think sometimes people forget the old saying its better to give than receive.
    the past year I have learnt its also ok to receive and accept it. ie someone buying me a meal. I will offer to pay them back but if they say no I accept it and thank them as I have learnt by not accepting is like being ungrateful and you throwing a gift if the givers face. Im learning when someone gives something its a blessing to them as well.
    This year I have been giving cookies to people who have helped me this year and it feels good to give knowing there will be nothing in return.

    Love the look of the new book also

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  52. Janet -

    I would love to read this book!

    andrealschultz[at]gmail[dot]com

    Thanks - Andrea

    Please visit my new blog at

    http://andrealschultz.blogspot.com

    I am happy to be participating in the 12 Pearls of Christmas. Come on over to comment for your chance to win a three strand pearl necklace! And please follow or subscribe!

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  53. Hi Rose, This is the first giveaway for The Substitute Bride so hot off the press is right. :-)

    Wishing you a blessed Christmas!
    Janet

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  54. Your words have touched me, Debra. Thank you! Guess we're all blessed by Seekerville. :-)

    Don't under estimate your homemade presents. They're a gift of self. The quilts and quilted tablecloths my mom made for me are treasures, a little piece of her that I can touch.

    Janet

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  55. If you've been a good girl, Mary, maybe "Santa" will bring you a copy of The Substitute Bride. :-)

    Janet

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  56. Hi there, Vince. I'm clueless about the legality of tying a charity into a romance. Anyone know?

    Tell me how a writer spread the word about Boys Town.

    Janet

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  57. Thanks for entering the drawing for The Substitute Bride, Katie!

    Janet

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  58. Hannah, you understand that giving to others blesses you, the giver, as much or more than the receiver of the gift. God is using you.

    Love has a way of flowing from us to you and you to us, depending on the tides. Thank you!

    Janet

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  59. KarenK, I'm so glad you stopped by. You're entered in the drawing for The Substitute Bride.

    Merry Christmas!
    Janet

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  60. Ruthy, I've hurt your feelings. I'm sorry. I had no idea that was even possible.

    I in no way want to downplay the delicious food you prepare for us each and every day in Seekerville. We all know readers are led here by their noses, not by some little link. And we all know no one can come close to your cooking.

    I'll admit I'm a sucker for a hug, but if I'd thought of the clean up, your tireless dedication, the expense, the quality ingredients, I would've never said Melanie's hug beat out your food.

    Man-chefs-are-touchy, hoping not to hear from Melanie, Janet

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  61. Man-chefs-are-touchy, hoping not to hear from Melanie, Janet

    ROTFLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Janet, nothing could possibly upset me today! The Woodcutter's Daughter releases in October!!!!!!!!!!!!! (But shhh. Still not allowed to tell.)

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  62. Hi Jenny, excellent reminder. Thanks! We need to learn to receive as well as to give. And now you get to give back for the sheer joy of giving to those who've blessed you.

    Janet

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  63. Mel, smiling and smiling so more. Can't wait for what I'm smiling about.

    Hugs, Janet

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  64. Lovely blog, Andrea! Thanks for your interest in The Substitute Bride!

    Janet

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  65. Timely thoughts, well said. I appreciated reading what you had to say.

    Your book looks great. I would love to win a copy -- suppose I shouldn't say this, but if I don't win it, I'll go buy a copy.

    lauramctx at yahoo

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  66. Yikes,
    I forgot to leave my email...and I DEFINITELY want a chance to win your book, Janet :-)

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  67. Hi again, Janet. Of course, I want in the drawing! Sorry I forgot my addy. It's diannashuford@gmail.com.

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  68. Great post, Janet. I agree with each and every point you made but I have a question.

    How do you (and everyone else) do everything that's listed?

    Please, don't think I'm a loon but this is an area I struggle with--some times, I give so much to everything(family, friends, worshipping the Lord, trying to do what the He wants me to do with my writing, working) that there's not enough hours in the day. And forget about recharging my battery.

    What are some hints you guys have found that helps you get more of a balance?

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  69. Hi Janet:

    Sometimes I forget how old I am. The story of the little known “Boys Town” was made into an Oscar winning movie in 1938 featuring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy. It is about an orphanage for ‘at risk’ boys founded by Father Flanagan in 1917. The movie made the institution famous and helped raise millions of dollars over the years because of this fame. I just assume everyone has seen the movie. : }

    Just think if you could do this for a small charity like the Amazon Project created by Dr. Linnea Smith: www (dot) amazonmedical (dot) org/index (dot) html. I think she is a real life heroine.

    Vince

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  70. Enjoyed the post. Would love to read this book. Please enter me.
    Thanks!!
    jackie.smith(at)dishmail(dot)net

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  71. Hi Laura in Texas. In Seekerville nothing you say will be held against you. :-) Seriously, winners are selected randomly so you've made me feel good without risking your chance to win The Substitute Bride.

    Janet

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  72. Ah, Pepper, you still forgot your e-mail. :-)

    Janet

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  73. Thanks, Dianna! You're in the drawing.

    Janet

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  74. Patty, your question is valid. If you're writing, working, taking care of a family, you are giving, giving, and giving some more. Just thinking about it makes me tired!!

    Giving time to others outside my family isn't a daily thing. I may judge one contest a year. Decorate our church twice a year. Take in food to someone recovering from surgery. When I'm on deadline, I protect my writing time. I say no.

    I've learned if I don't take time for my devotions in the morning, I won't do them so I tie my coffee to time with God. :-) But if I miss, I don't berate myself. I belong to a Bible study group and keep up with the lessons.

    A friend and I check in to see if we'll exercise that day. I walk with my husband, a man with strong will power. I need someone to hold me accountable.

    Giving myself time is easier since our children are grown. When I'm cooking, I watch HGTV, my idea of fun. :-) My husband and I talk for a while each evening. When our children were little, we had coffee after dinner in the living room without the girls. At first they'd stand at the edge of the carpet, waiting for us to finish, but they got used to it. Time together was a priority for us and still is.

    Balancing life is a trial and error kind of thing and never perfect. Can you find a way to give yourself even a half hour a day doing what you enjoy? Be creative. Ban the children. LOL

    Janet

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  75. Vince, I haven't seen the movie. But that doesn't mean I'm young. :)

    I checked out Dr. Linnea Smith. She is a hero!

    Janet

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  76. You're entered, Jackie. Thanks for your interest in The Substitute Bride!

    Janet

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  77. Thanks, Janet. My biggest problem(and it has been for a long time) is my inability to say 'no.' There are so many things I would love to do! But I'm learning, truly I am. Your post gave me the encouragement I needed right now--to do what I CAN do instead of what I might expect myself to do, to understand that even when I don't spend time with God, He's still spending time with me, and to stop and smell the chocolate for a couple of minutes during the day.

    Thanks(and yes, I would love to be put into the drawing.)

    pattywrites@hotmail.com

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  78. you know I never thought growing up how much I took things for granted. You don't mean to, but you do.
    My sister Missy lost the ability to walk around the age of 18. We discovered through many painful years, and Doctor's visits that she had a birth defect that caused a disc to rupture, and in turn took both of her legs. God used surgeries to help her to be able to stand and pivot, and sometimes walk a few feet with help.
    She also has Lupus,and many other health issues that cause her to be bed bound...and she is never out of pain... but yesterday, she made the sacrifice to come downstairs,with her chair lift, and be with her daughter and I while we made cookies. It was only for about an hour and a half, but it was such a beautiful sacrifice and gift to me. What a lovely, wonderful sister I have.

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  79. Thanks, Janet, for your thoughtful reminders of how to give effectively.

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  80. Patty, we can't do it all, but if you have a servant's heart saying no is hard. But you don't want to burn out. Smelling the chocolate...you're a woman after my own heart. Chocolate beats roses any time. :-)

    Thanks for entering!
    Janet

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  81. Wendy, God bless your sister. She's endured so much and lives with limitations yet manages to give. I admire her spirit. And your faithfulness to her. Thanks for sharing.

    Janet

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  82. Hi Carla. Good to see you! Are you entering?

    Janet

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  83. my one sister, who has a dh and 2 school kids, came on a 6 hr. drive to our place to make meals to freeze for me and dh before I went into a second surgery and 25 radiation treatments where I stayed Mon. to Fri. for 5 weeks. She gave of herself and took time for me.

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  84. yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

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  85. Awww, thanks Janet! Lol...I was trying to give you guys a compliment for once!!!
    Hannah

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  86. What a fun twist on a mail-order bride story! I'd love to read this.

    valerie AT valeriecomer DOT com

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