A Creative Friendship

I had so much fun today with my friend, Joy. We packed up our laptops...well, she packed up her laptop and I packed my new Dana and we headed off to Border's Bookstore.

After ordering a couple of chilled lattes, we headed to a quiet table in the back of the store in the section where they keep books on writing. We browsed through one and found a writing prompt that sparked both of our creative juices, then sat down to write.

The prompt was: Write about a five dollar bill that changes hands 5 times, what it was used for and how it changed the lives of those it went to.

Here's Joy's story:


Hi! I’m Freddie Fumph, a five dollar bill. Ouch! The cashier crumpled me
carelessly into this drawer.

This morning started out like many others --- I was sleeping calmly in the
wallet of an attorney named Nancy. I knew her name because I was right across from the window of her driver’s license. I was to be her morning Latte on the way to work.

She pulled through the drive-through of Seattle’s Best on Broadway and Fourth and placed her order. She promptly moved me into the hand of a blond-haired college junior and confidently said, “Keep the change dear.”

About three hours later, it was time for Kristy to get off work. She traded in
her pocket of change from the morning’s tips and grabbed me. We were off to class. I don’t know what we studied that morning, but we were there until afternoon.

On the way across campus, Kristy pulled me out and stuffed me in her pocket. I thought that she was going to take me to lunch. So did she!

As soon as we left the campus and crossed the street, Kristy was approached
by an unshaven, ill-kept man in a dirty blue suit. He asked if she had any change
she could give him for a meal. She thought a minute and then pulled me out and
handed me to the man in the blue suit. She smiled and said, “Have a good day, sir,” then hummed a tune as she sort of skipped away. I liked her!

The man seemed so thankful for me. He handled me gingerly almost like he
was giving me a massage to put me to sleep. He went into the grocery store down the street and picked up a can of soup, then got a spoon from the deli and kind of fumbled toward the check-out. I could see the eyes of the gentleman to whom I was given. He looked softly at the man, with a clouded look of compassion not at all like the lady behind the man looked. She had a look of utter disgust. I sure hope she doesn’t need a five dollar bill for her change!!!

I lay very still in the cash drawer. It was dark and I was imagining the rough
hands of the blue-suited gentleman massaging me to sleep.

Shift change must have happened sometime in the darkness. Next thing I
knew, I was being handed to a short Hispanic woman as part of her grocery change.

She was very thankful to have me. She had four little kiddos trailing along behind
her sort of like a parade of geese following their mother across the street. She was carrying me tightly in her hand like I was the best thing ever. I felt so very important and treasured. I belonged to a family now. Where would we go tomorrow?

What a day! I recounted my adventures and fell asleep on the dresser where I’d
been placed. It was dark --- I was happy --- life was good!

© 2009 Joy Books 1

And here's mine:

A Day in the Life of a $5.00 Bill

Larry methodically smoothed out the wrinkles in his $5.00 bill. He had been saving it in the secret pocket of his Lone Ranger wallet for sometime, but when he saw the Magic Kit at Mr. Beasley’s House of Fun, he just had to have it. Finally satisfied that it looked perfect, he slid the bill across the counter.

The cashier rolled her eyes and pushed the plastic bag containing his purchase across the counter.

"Here ya go, kid. Have a nice day."

Larry flashed her a big grin, "And you have a simply fabulous day, ma'am!"

He couldn't wait to get home and practice doing magic tricks. He chuckled as he thought about how he would drive his sister crazy wondering how he made things disappear.

In fact, he was so anxious to learn, that he sat down under a tree, opened the package, pulled out the instruction book and began to read about how to make a ball disappear in the magic box.

He had just about mastered the disappearing ball trick when a shadow passed in front of him.

"Whatcha doin', Larry?"

Larry looked up and squinted into the sun.

"Hey, Keri," he said, stashing the instruction book behind his back. He hadn't expected his little sister to show up.

"Oh, nothin' much, Keri," he said.. "Just practicing my magic skills."

"Magic? You can't do Magic," Keri said.

"Sure I can," said Larry, "See this ball? I can make it disappear!"

"Can not," said Keri.

Larry held up the ball. "Look at the ball closely"

He put the ball into the end of the box and waved his hands dramatically over, under and around the box. Then he said the magic words, "Fabulous is as fabulous does, the object is not where it was. Where it has gone, I can not say, but where it is now, it always must stay."

He opened the box and to his dismay, the ball was still in the box.

"Well, it worked in practice," he said, looking up at his sister.

But Keri was no longer standing on the sidewalk. Keri had disappeared!"
Mr. Beasley had already sent his cashier home and was just about to close up shop when the Western Union messenger arrived. He opened the cash register and took out a smooth 5.00 bill, handed it to the messenger for a tip and took the envelope with shaking hands. He had never received a telegram before.

Dear Mr. Beasley: Your great-aunt Mildred has passed. STOP You are her sole beneficiary. STOP Please come immediately. STOP James Wentworth, Esquire.

Bart could barely remember his Great Aunt from the one visit she had made to their home when he was a child, but he did remember his parents talking about the huge fortune she had made in dog food. He thought it quite funny that someone could become rich by selling her recipe for dog food to a big company, but it didn't seem so funny now...it seemed quite wonderful.

He purchased a ticket and boarded the train the next morning, headed for Blackmore. The trip took three days and by the time he stepped down from the train, his legs were shaky. He hired a driver and they headed for Aunt Mildred's estate.

He was shocked when they arrived to find that what he had inherited was not a huge fortune as he had anticipated, but 500 dogs that had been Aunt Mildred's prize possessions.
Ralph slipped the 5.00 bill into his pocket and left the Mr. Beasley’s House of Fun. He was grateful for the tip. Raising 3 kids on a messenger’s salary was not easy. At least he would be able to get lunch today.

He pulled out the next telegram. Mrs. Kristi Barnes, 1034 S. Main Street. You might know his next step would be half-way across town. He decided to stop for a quick lunch.

The hot dogs at Circle K looked a little overcooked again today, but he didn't know anywhere else he could get two dogs, nachos and a Super-Gulp for 5.00.

He paid the clerk with the $5.00 bill Mr. Beasley had given him for a tip.

"Thanks Ralph," said the clerk, "See ya tomorrow!"

“Tomorrow, Delta,” Ralph said with a wave of the hand.
Delta picked up her paperback again and began reading. Getting lost in a romance novel was the perfect way to escape the boredom of a slow day at the convenience store.

"Fabio looked deeply into her smoldering gray eyes, pulled her close and..."

"I'll take 15.00 worth of regular on pump number 3".

Delta looked up from her novel, surprised to see a customer had slipped in unnoticed.

She took the 20.00 from the curly-haired blonde in the crazy rhinestone studded glasses and gave her 5.00 in change, then returned to the arms of Fabio.
Joy took the 5.00 bill and stuffed it into her wallet, more than a little miffed that the clerk had been so impersonal. She hadn't expected fan-fare when she bought gas, but she had expected to at least be acknowledged.

Her cell phone rang just as she pulled out into traffic.


Keri's voice seemed far away and Joy had to strain to here it.

"Mom? I can't stay on the phone, but you must do something for me right away. I can't explain, but it's absolutely necessary for you to stop at the next ATM and deposit exactly 5.00 into your account."

"What? Keri, where are you? Why do I need to do that?" Joy asked.

Keri's voice was fading even more, "Mom, please, just do it" and then she was gone.

Joy shook her head. That girl, sometimes she just didn't make a lot of sense, but then that was what made Keri so fun and lovable.

She spotted a Wells Fargo on the next corner, pulled in and deposited the 5.00 dollars, all the time wondering why.

Retrieving her card and receipt from the machine, she turned and ran smack dab into Keri.

"What in the world are you doing here, Keri? How did you get here? Where have you been?

"Mom, you wouldn't believe me if I told you." Keri said. "Can we just go home? And mom, if Larry wants to show you any magic tricks...don't fall for it!"

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

I like Joy's better. Love the point of view being the $5 dollar bill and love the emotions she gives it.

Mine is a bit to long and disjointed, but we had so much fun writing together, I'm going to twist her arm to go again.

My New Toy!

I've been wanting an AlphaSmart Dana for several years. It's basically a wordprocessor. You can't do much of anything but write with it. Nothing to distract me...no internet, no Skype, no Facebook.

I finally scored one on Ebay this week and it came today. I sat watching TV with Lee this evening and typing away on the Dana at the same time. I was amazed that I could follow the TV program and still be thinking clearly enough to write the beginnings of a short story.

This handy little gadget weighs just 2 pounds and can run for 25 hours on a single battery charge and if you get in a pinch, you can pop in 3 AA batteries and keep right on going!

In November I'm going to participate in the Nanowrimo challenge. That's where you start writing a novel on November 1st and you must have 175 pages (50,000) words by November 30th to be a winner. Everyone who completes the required number of words is a winner!

I'll be using my Dana for that, but until then, I intend to do the whole "writer thing" and take my new toy to my favorite Border's Bookstore during the day, order a sugar-free hazelnut latte and look all cool while practicing to write the next great American novel....or my next blog entry!

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Never Give Up!

The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer.

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19

In these two verses, the word "temple" is naos which means "holy of holies."

Just like the Spirit of God dwelled in the holy of holies in the temple of old, He dwells in us today.

We are now the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God upon the earth. When He moves to release power upon the earth, it doesn't have to shoot out of the sky somewhere - it comes from His people where His Spirit dwells upon the earth and it is released through prayer, through speaking the Word, through laying on of hands and through declarations and affirmations.

In John 7:38 Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”

The more times we pray for a particular person or need, the more we release those living waters, the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work.

Never Quit
Never Give Up!

Adapted from Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets. If you haven't read this book...you MUST! It will revolutionize your prayer life.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Poolside Miracle

I'm working on some small group bible studies inspired by the messages I hear at church on Sunday mornings. Here's one I wrote based on yesterdays message - Poolside Miracle:

Read John 5:1-17 (NIV)

The Healing at the Pool

"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

"Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."

But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' "

So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."

This miracle took place at a pool called Bethesda. That name, “Bethesda” means – “house of mercy” or “flowing water”, a place for receiving and caring for the sick, the name of a pool near the sheep-gate at Jerusalem, the waters of which had curative powers.

The Pool of Bethesda was located near the Sheep-gate, so named because by that way the sacrificial lambs were brought to the Temple.

Surrounding the pool, were five immense covered colonnades, in which the sick, the blind, the crippled and the paralyzed had gathered.

1. What do you suppose the atmosphere of this place might have been?

Occasionally, an angel would stir the waters in the pool and the first one to enter would be healed.

2. How do you think the people acted when they saw the waters begin to stir?

3. How do you think they felt after seeing just one person healed?

It’s hard to imagine why God would stir the waters occasionally and then only heal one person. Perhaps His purpose wasn’t to bring healing to just one individual, but to use this as an illustration – a picture of what happens when people sense God stirring their hearts to come to Him and they take that step of faith into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, who is the Living Water.

4. How eager do you think these people were to be healed? To have their lives changed?

Those gathered around the pool recognized their physical infirmities. They were blind, crippled and paralyzed. And knew they needed a touch from God to be healed.

Often we fail to recognize our infirmities, but we are blinded, crippled and paralyzed by them just the same. How are we...




The man who received his miracle that day had suffered with his infirmity for 38 years.

5. What happens when a person has suffered for a long period of time?

Jesus asks this man, “Do you want to be well?”

This seems like a ridiculous question. Our first response is, “Of course, he wants to be well!” but Jesus is really probing a little deeper here.

Healing means change and change can be difficult for some people. Sometimes we have become so familiar with the situation, so tolerant of the pain and so depleted of hope that we need to ask ourselves if we really want to be healed.

6. Is there a situation in your life that is hard, but you have lived with it so long that you have just accepted it? Name that situation.

7. Do you want to be well?

The man answered with an implied yes, but then proceeded to tell Jesus why that would be impossible.

8. Are you feeling like this man felt? You want to be well, you want God to touch your life, but many reasons why that isn’t likely to happen pop into your head? What are some of the excuses that come to mind?

Jesus then told the man to stand up, pick up his mat and walk. What an incredible thing to do! To some it would appear insensitive; to ask a cripple to get up and do the impossible, but sometimes God asks us to take what seems to be an impossible step.

It was at the point of obedience that this man experienced his miracle. He heard the voice of Jesus command him to take a step of faith, he responded in faith and as he did, the mighty healing power of God flooded into his body and brought about the healing he had waited on for 38 years.

9. When you think about your need, is there an impossible first step you feel God asking you to take? If so, what is it?

It’s interesting to note that this healing took place on the Sabbath. According to Jewish tradition, this was not the right time, nor the right way to be healed. They were angry with Jesus for violating their religious rules.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." John 5:17

Those at the Pool of Bethesda had to wait for the occasional stirring of the water, but Jesus tells us that God is always at work…to this very day.

10. Do you want to be healed?

God is ready. In John 14:6, Jesus says,

…"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

God has provided your healing through faith (belief) in Jesus Christ. Today, He is stirring the waters. He wants to work in your life, but He will not barge in. He is waiting for you to make a move toward Him. He’s waiting for you to step into the waters, to invite Jesus in, to surrender you hurts, habits and hang-ups to Him so that He can begin to bring healing to your life.

11. Are you willing to place your faith in Christ and step into the water? Are you ready to take what might seem to be an impossible first step?

Most of the blind, crippled and paralyzed that surrounded the Pool of Bethesda had friends and family with them to help them into the waters when they were stirred. You have friends surrounding you right now in your small group, willing to help you take that first step toward Jesus.

If you’re ready to be healed, if you want Jesus to step into your life and change things, your friends want to help. Let them know right now that you are taking that step and ask them to pray with you.

12. Did you take that step? Have you invited Jesus to come into your life and circumstances?

The Bible says that later, Jesus found the man at the Temple and gave him further instructions.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." John 5:14

This should be our intention – to live a life that pleases God, to stop sinning. In reality, we are imperfect and will never be completely free from sin, but God is concerned with the intentions of our hearts. We are to do our best to live a life that brings honor to God and demonstrates an attitude of gratitude for what He has done for us. When we fall short of that, we are to go to Him in repentance, seeking His forgiveness, then continue on with living a life that honors Him.

Refusing to do so will find us in a much worse place then we were before we experienced His work in our lives.

13. Is it your intention to live a life that honors God?

Your small group family is ready to help you do that. They are on the same journey – a journey of spiritual growth in Jesus Christ. We are here to encourage and assist one another as we do life together.

Small groups: Develop an atmosphere of mutual support and togetherness in your meetings. Make them a Bethesda a “house of mercy”, a safe place to share the struggles we all go through in life. We are the body of Christ, let’s display his love as we minister to one another in love.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


I would love your feedback on this study. Did it benefit you personally? Do you think it would work well in a small group setting? Any suggestions for improvement? Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this study. Thanks!

The Death of the Spartan Seven

Truth or Dare – it’s a stupid game and why I had agreed to play it is beyond me. I could blame it on peer pressure, but that’s a crock. I’d never cared what others thought.

I’m not even sure how I wound up at a slumber party with the Spartan Seven, a chic clique of nauseating high-school fashionistas.

I’d never been part of that crowd…or any crowd, for that matter, but there I was, surrounded by cutesy girls in cutesy pajamas about to play the dumbest game ever invented.

Maybe it was the prospect of embarrassing the crud out of Jamie Lynn Walters or putting a few S.S. brats in their place that pulled me from the corner where I was sulking to the circle in the center of the floor. I don’t know, but it was about to get ugly.

Things started out pretty silly.

Did you ever…?
Would you ever…?
Have you ever…?

Blah, blah, blah.

A few answers, several dares and way too many giggles later, it was my turn. I looked directly at Jamie. I didn’t like her, never had. She was too perfect. Gorgeous hair, killer body, genius smarts and a great personality - yech.

Everyone liked Jamie Lynn. Everyone, including Jake, my next-door neighbor and best friend. Hanging out with Jake was the only decent part of my rotten life. At least it was until he fell head over heels for Jamie.

I’d heard the recent rumors. I knew they were lies, but I couldn’t resist.

“Jamie, truth or dare?” I asked.

Jamie Lynn giggled, “Truth, I guess.”

“Is it true that you had an abortion last year?” I challenged.

As soon as the words left my mouth I regretted them. Probably because I knew that Jamie Lynn would tell the truth. Any other person would lie through their teeth, but not Jamie.

While every girl in the room glared and wished me dead, Jamie lowered her head. Tears filled her eyes and dropped on her pretty pink pajamas.

Softly she said, “Yes, it’s true. I was raped while walking home from cheerleading practice. When I found out I was pregnant, my parents gave me no choice. They were afraid of what people would say and afraid of how it would mess up my life.”

“It was awful,” she continued, “and I can’t get it out of my mind. I killed a baby and I don’t know if God can ever forgive me.” Jamie sobbed.

The Spartan Seven closed ranks, surrounding Jamie in a soggy group hug that totally shut me out.

I said the only thing I could say – the one thing I swore that I would never say.

“Jamie, I’m sorry. I had an abortion, too and I know exactly how you feel.”

A collective gasp went up from the huddle. All eyes turned toward me and I wanted to throw up.

“Six months ago…only I wasn’t raped. I was just stupid and I thought it was the easy way out.”


I continued, “It wasn’t easy, though. I thought I could just go on like it never happened, but I couldn’t. I was so ashamed, I quit going to church. I couldn’t sit there, knowing that God probably hated me for what I’d done.”

Jamie broke free from her cocoon, put her arms around me and for the first time in six months, I cried. We all cried and when our tears were spent, Sarah Matthews spoke up.

“The truth is that we’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of. We can’t change that, but isn’t that exactly why God sent Jesus? Isn’t that why Jesus died, to forgive sin?”

She paused. “So here’s the next dare, I dare us all to get real with each other and then get real with God.”

What followed was unbelievable. One by one, those girls I thought were so perfect began to share things that proved they were just like me. Young, confused and scared most of the time.

We talked, we cried, we hugged, and then we did something I had never done before with a group of girls. We knelt in a circle, held hands and asked God to forgive us.

The Spartan Seven no longer exists. It died the night we played Truth or Dare and in its place is a group of girls who will be friends for life…and I am a part of it all.

(Copyright © 2008 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

I've been out of town, so I haven't had time to write the past couple of days. This is a short story I wrote a while ago and entered in a writing contest at FaithWriters.com. It was my first contest entry and took 3rd place in my category. The topic they gave us to write on was "Truth or Dare".

Rules Were Made to be Broken

Jill sat on the park bench, hidden in the shadows. A chill ran through her as she wrapped the sheer lace shawl tighter around her bare shoulders. This was not how she imagined her first prom date.

My dad is so mean! Every girl in my class is going to the freshmen prom. They’re being picked up at their door with their parents snapping pictures and waving goodbye, and I’m sitting here in Madison Park freezing to death waiting for a drive-by pick up - all because of Dad’s stupid “you can’t date until you’re 16” rule. This is so unfair! He’s so old fashioned.

Jill had been surprised when Mike to ask her to the prom. She didn’t know him well, but they had been talking for several weeks and he seemed like a really nice guy. She hoped tonight would be the start of something special.

She saw his pickup round the corner and stop under the street light. Jill dashed across the lawn and jumped in the passenger’s side, hoping no one was around to see her.

“Hey, you look great,” said Mike.

“Thanks. Sorry about the weird arrangements,” she said.

“No sweat, I got a jerk for an old man, too,” Mike said as he pulled away from the curb.

Jill wasn’t sure she liked him referring to her Dad as a jerk. He was a pretty nice guy most of the time, just real strict. Having a pastor for a Dad could really be a drag sometimes.

Mike shoved a plastic container across the seat at her.

“Here, my Mom got you a flower.”

“Uh, thanks,” Jill said as she opened the box and slipped the corsage on her wrist.

Well, that’s romantic, she thought. Something told her this was not going to be the fairy tale prom she had always dreamed of.

They pulled into the parking lot of the school and Mike turned off the truck, but he didn’t move to get out, instead he reached under the seat and pulled out a bottle of liquor.

“Let’s have a little grape punch before we go in,” he said, opening the bottle and passing it to her.

“I don’t drink, Mike. Can we just go in?”

Mike took a long drink on the bottle, capped it and stashed it back under the seat.

“What’s your hurry? Let’s get to know each other a little better first,” he said, sliding over close to her.

“Mike, I want to go in,” Jill said, reaching for the door handle.

Mike grabbed her wrist, crushing the corsage and put his other arm around her tight.

“Look, I didn’t’ put out all this money for nothing. How about you give me a little kiss?”

Jill wiggled free of his grip and before she even had time to think about what she was doing, she doubled up her right fist and let him have it right in the mouth.

“There’s your kiss, you jerk!” she said.

She left him sitting in the truck holding his mouth, blood running through his fingers and marched into the school, but instead of turning left toward the music and lights of the gym, she turned right toward the pay phone in the hall.

“Daddy, can you come and get me at the school? I’ll explain when you get here…and Daddy…I’ll wait until I’m sixteen to date…gladly!”

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Summers in Arizona are hotter than...

I can hear the skin on the back of my thighs sizzle as they fry on the vinyl seat of my car.

Ah, summer in Phoenix, Arizona, 1982 - The Valley of the Sun, just a stone’s throw from the very pits of…well, nevermind.

Note to self: Do not wear shorts in the summer no matter how hot it gets.

Moving to Arizona seemed like a wonderful idea back in February. Waving goodbye to friends, family and snowstorms, we hit the highway in our little red Pinto Pony. We pulled a homemade trailer behind us loaded down with our stuff. The hand-carved rocking chair my husband had made out of wood pallets rescued from a chicken plant was strapped to the top of the pile just like the Beverly Hillbillies. His old canoe rode upside down on the hood of the Ford Pinto, sticking out beyond both front and back fenders. As a final gesture of red-neck determination, Lee had painted “Arizona or Bust” on the plywood sides of the trailer in drippy red paint.

Four days, 2000 miles and more than a few weird looks later, we found ourselves climbing out of the Verde Valley – or should I say crawling out of the Verde Valley. The road just kept going up and up and the Pinto just kept going slower and slower until it was nearly at a stand-still. My foot cramped and my leg ached from holding the gas pedal to the floor, as if pushing harder would make a difference. I had visions of the car stopping altogether and then careening down the mountain backward. Finally, we top the crest of the mountain, my heart started beating again and it was all downhill from there. We dropped into the Valley amid mountains, cactus and temps in the 70's...in February!

Summer comes early in Arizona. Soon the temps climbed above 100 and we learned many things through our first summer here.

  • An air conditioned car is a necessity, not a luxury – goodbye Pinto
  • Cold water does not flow from the cold water spigot in the summer in Arizona
  • Burritos are something you eat, not something you ride
  • Rivers seldom contain water
  • One does not go barefoot in the summer, the grass is so dry, it will slice your feet to bits and the sidewalk will give you third degree burns
  • That pool you thought would be so refreshing is like warm bathwater
  • Ice cream cones must be licked at break-neck speed or become a puddle in your hands
  • An hour of sun bathing leaves you extra crispy, not tanned
  • A lot of people go nude in the house to stay cool
  • A lot of people don't close their blinds
  • Oven mitts make great driving gloves
  • Any Christian who lives in Arizona in the summer is motivated to serve God out of love, not out of the fear of going to…well, nevermind.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


Insidiously she comes, slinking through the shadows
A deceptive smile and conspiratory whisper on her lips
Have you heard?
Did you know?

And with a poison-tipped tongue
She rips lives to shreds
All in the guise of feigned concern

Gossip, you’re an ugly spirit.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

You are never alone.

I couldn’t think of anything to write about tonight, so I did a search for “Christian writing prompts” and came up with this one: “You've just found a letter tucked away in an old Bible.” Here's what I wrote...

Sal was surprised to hear the old clock in the bookstore strike midnight. She had lost all track of time while trying to organize the shelves, but had almost finished the religion section and didn’t want to quit before it was completed.

If she were to admit the truth, her obsessive cleaning session was merely a diversion to keep her from thinking about how miserable and lonely her life was. It had been just a year since she had lost her mother and only 6 months since Jason had walked out on her. Burying herself in work filled the time, but not her empty heart.

“All I want is a shower and a soft bed,” she muttered, wiping the sweat from her brow as she dusted the last few Bibles and returned them to the shelves. She fingered the worn leather of an old King James Version, then flipped through the gold-edged pages. As she did, a piece of paper fluttered to the floor.

Kneeling down to retrieve it, Sal felt a sudden wisp of cool air brush her cheeks. That’s strange, she thought. She had been raosting all evening among the stale shelves, so the breeze caught her by surprise. Shrugging it off, she unfolded the brittle paper and read.

“To whomever finds this: I have been praying for you. A few months ago God placed you on my heart, even though we have never met and may never meet. He didn’t give me any details, just prompted me to pray for someone who is going through a very difficult time. I know it may sound strange, but he directed me to write this note and stick it in my old Bible so that you would find it and know that he is aware of your hurt and that he is right there with you, even as you read this letter.”

It was simply signed, “A Friend”.

Hot tears stung Sal’s eyes. For a minute she dared to hope that she was the one meant to find this note – that God had prompted someone to pray for her and that it was true that God was with her…even though she was not entirely sure she believed in God.

“I wonder who wrote this,” she thought, flipping to the front of the book to see if the owner’s name had been recorded. What she saw made her heart skip a beat. “Property of Sally Ann McCardell.” That was her grandmother’s name! Surely this could not be her grandmother’s Bible. Granny had died when Sal was only 4 years old. She had been named for her grandmother.
She flipped to the next page; Births: Martha Louise McCardell born September 17, 1959…her mother!

Again Sal felt a soft, cool breeze brush her cheeks as she dropped to her knees. She knew in her heart that God was with her and that she would never be alone again.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Happy 4th of July

Historically, the 4th of July is a good day for declarations, so with less than 30 minutes to go before this 4th of July is over, I'd like to make this declaration:
  • I am a Christian. I believe in God the creator, who sent his son Jesus as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of mankind, and in accepting his gift of salvation I have entered into an eternal, personal relationship with God through his son.
  • I am a Christian. I dedicate myself to loving my neighbor, to pursuing justice, to feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.
  • I am a Christian. I strive to live a life that honors God and brings glory to his name.
  • I am a Christian. I look to Jesus and his teachings for guidance and direction, not to the media, pop culture, a political party, or a religious denomination.
  • I am a Christian. I am an American, a patriot, a lover of this nation and the freedoms we all enjoy and I vow not to take those for granted.
Taken from an article by Joanne Brokaw

It's a Shaky World We Live In.

We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking only to learn that it is God shaking them. Charles C. West

Just when you think you’re standing on solid ground, the foundations of your life begin to shake…sometimes until you think they must be hitting about 7.5 on the Richter scale. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you lose your job, your health takes a nose-dive and depression becomes a constant companion.

The newspapers report that there’s an impending pandemic, the nightly news says the world is in a meltdown and the President says the economy is in the toilet. Ok, he didn’t exactly say that, but he’s good at phrasing things so they don’t sound as bad as they really are.

Face it…our foundations are shaking!

Those things we used to take for granted…a decent education, a good job, a moral society, honest politicians (well, maybe not that last one) are no longer guaranteed in America. Heck, not even our constitution is concrete…it’s subject to reinterpretation at any time.

Yep, our foundations are shaking and those of us who still believe in God are surprised to discover that it’s God that’s doing the shaking.

For me, personally, he used events and circumstances to shake me out of my spiritual complacency and help me see that I had built my foundation on the wrong things. The only thing that’s unshakable in this life is God - the same yesterday, today and forever and if he has to shake our world to help us understand that our lives should be built on him…. that’s just what he will do, because he loves us too much to let us continue to trust in things that will only let us down.

Is your world shaking? Turn to God – not only will he help you through your difficult circumstances, he will help you build your life on a sure foundation – Jesus Christ, the solid rock.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Kitchen Sink-spiration

I hate doing dishes. Ok, that’s not the point of this story, but I just want to get it out there.

Maybe the fact that I hate doing dishes contributes to my habit of letting my mind wander while I do them. Maybe it’s a form of dirty dish denial – whatever.

Today, while scrubbing a particularly crusty metal serving spoon, I noticed a splotch of fingernail polish on the neck of it. If I remember correctly, it was Bronzeberry Ice by Cutex and it’s been there for about 15 years.

This utensil marking custom is fairly common in church circles. There’s never enough serving utensils in the church kitchen, so when attending the ever popular potluck dinner, you take your favorite dish and a spoon, tongs, pie server, etc. to serve it up your dish.

At the end of the potluck, all the women and the dirty dishes wind up in the kitchen together. It’s at this point that you are in danger of losing your silverware. To keep that from happening, women often brush a dab of fingernail polish on their serving utensils to identify them, so this got me thinking.

We mark our belongings so that we don’t lose them. When we come to Jesus and make Him the Lord of our lives, he places His mark on us. Not Bronzeberry Ice, of course (they don’t make it anymore), but an invisible mark that bears testimony to the spirit world that we belong to him.

Wherever we go, whatever we do from that point on, we bear the identifying mark of Jesus Christ. A mark that speaks of ownership, a mark that says, “Keep your hands off, this one is mine.”

Though we may stray, the mark remains. If you have given your heart to Jesus, you bear his mark. He values you and will not let you go. He will continue to pull you back to him because he loves you.

So, do a quick check…has Jesus placed his mark on you? If so, rest assured that he knows where you are and stands ready to claim you as his own at the end of the potluck…I mean, at the end of your time here on earth.

And I still hate doing dishes!

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Inspiration for this Blog

I came across three quotations recently that provided the inspirational spark to start this blog...

"She fancied herself a writer, but she found that she had not engaged in 'writer-like' behavior in weeks. You know, actually writing." Djuanna Brockington of Diva Fiction Bytes

"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." Lord Byron

"Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!" Job 19:23 (NASB)

Those three quotes are tacked up on the wall next to my computer to remind me that I am a writer...but only if I actually sit down and write...duh!

So, I'm starting this blog with a promise to myself that I will write something every day. I'll set aside a little chunk of time to exercise the gift God gave me and if my words can encourage, inspire, amuse or provoke thought...I will be a happy girl.