Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It's a Guy Thing

Jason's gym is different from most for the simple reason that he advertises his faith by placing large signs around the walls with verses from the Bible. Most guys don't mind that they are reminded about the mighty men of King David; or of things like, "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength." This sort of Bible promise is positive and reinforces their determination to develop their muscles and take care of their bodies. But there are a few verses Jason added that make some guys not want to come back. What are they?

Nothing new. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing extraordinary.

At least, they shouldn't be.

Apparently, to some men they are challenging enough to be too challenging.

Things like,
"You shall not look at a woman to lust after her."
Or, "Do not desire your neighbor's wife for yourself."
And, "If your eye offends you, tear it out and cast it from you. Better to enter into life maimed, than to be cast into hell with both eyes."

Why does Jason put up such difficult verses?
Because they remind him that he is called to live an above-average life. It takes commitment and effort to live obediently to God's calling. And reminders are important.

Or maybe it's just because he read somewhere that 20-25% of all internet searches are for porn sites, and he feels that part of his calling is to help other men with whatever they struggle with.* It's one of the things I like most about Jason; because when he helps men with their issues, he is helping all of us.

*according to Nov.6 WordTracker Report on KeyWords

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Play Games, Anyone?

There used to be a saying that, "You can tell a lot about a person by looking at the books they own." When I peruse my own bookshelves I can see this certainly applies.
Today, even more than books, I think a movie or video game collection reveals something about character. Want to sneak a peek at some of the favorites on Sharona's or Frannie's shelves? Or how about Jason's?

Frannie gets absorbed in hypnotic 3-D worlds like "Myst" and "Riven." She's got every edition of the former (Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Myst V: End of Ages, Masterpiece Edition, etc. etc.!) Uru, and more. By getting her head surrounded by sound and wrapped up on the screen, she "forgets" the silent aching way deep inside that's making her unable to eat. And lots of times she won't even hear when her mother knocks on her door or calls her. (On a good day, she remembered to lock her door, earlier.)

Sharona does not, as a rule, play video games. She makes up for it by getting lost online for hours at a time, though. When she's not researching a topic for a book, she's getting side-tracked on sites for writers, email with colleagues and friends, and numerous chat groups such as, "prayer and share," "the Jane Austen list," "daily devotions" and "Fitness Guru." Her only news source is an online digest from a Christian newsgroup that recaps major headlines and directs grassroots lobbying efforts--which she participates in often. She edits and critiques for her online writers' group, as the others in the group do for her. But TV? or Video games?
Sharona would say, "Who's got time for that?"

Well, Frannie does.
Anybody else in the Club?
Stay tuned, and find out next time!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What's It All About?

Here's a reminder for those new to the club: What's this all about?

It's about Sharona, Angela, Jeanine, Becky and Lisa. It's about Jason and Patrick. People who are passionate about life--they also happen to be Christians with a passion for God. What happens when life in the 21st century makes it harder than ever to live true to one's calling?

The Swimsuit Club, for one thing!
The unfolding of their lives, loves, and secrets, problems and promises. And through it all, they just want to live out their Christian calling in a world filled with forces pushing them in all the wrong directions.

Frannie's way to cope is compromising her health; Beautiful Sharona, a former model, is determined to remain pure until her wedding-- but is purity possible when a girl's in love? Angela is divorced from a wife-beating husband, and hasn't dated anyone since their split. Hunky Jason, a deacon at church and the hottest guy in town, hasn't shown an interest in women since--well, has he ever? What's he hiding, anyway?

Jeanine's got weight issues, Becky's worrying about her future--(is Ian, her soon-to-be-husband, hinting that he wants out of their relationship?)-- And, oh my goodness, now Lisa--the teenage "bikini queen" of Restonville--wants to join the Club. She's after something and the others know it (and it isn't just chit-chat).

Enter your email in the box above (right) and stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hey, Beautiful--Get Real!

What is beauty, really? Frannie, with her ovaline face, fine-boned features and pouty lips is a looker, to be sure. But she is razor sharp with her comments, while Becky, lanky and sun-kissed and easygoing, is not a pin-up girl, but a pleasure to hang with. Both of them look to Sharona as the undisputed "beauty" of the Club, yet even Sharona doesn't match her own modeling photos! What's going on?

Think about this: Have you ever met a person with the satiny smooth skin of a magazine model? How often do you see people who are as beautiful as the pages and pages of models in magazines--not to mention films?

If you're thinking, "Not very often, if at all," you're about to find out why. They don't exist.
That's right, they don't exist! Not the way you see them on the printed page, anyway.

Yes, you get a Sophia Loren now and then, an exceptionally beautiful woman here or there, with the glam skin and all. But most women--and get this, most models--are perfectly....well, normal. They get acne, bad hair days, sallow skin, and every other malady that can afflict a woman's appearance. Their foreheads are too short or long, and their eyes aren't always spaced just right.

I came across a wonderful little video that perfectly encapsulates the reason why accepting the modeling industry's idea of what is "beautiful" can be so damaging to girls. To their credit, Dove (the soap and and beauty products manufacturer) is sponsoring the video, which shows an amazing transformation of an ordinary girl into a billboard model beauty. You've got to see it to believe it. Click the link below.

Campaign for real beauty.

A "Campaign for Real Beauty" sounds like something all women need to get on a soapbox for. (Pardon the pun) Good going, Dove!
Go on, click the link and watch!

(Look around the site--there are some neat ecards you can send to let the women in your life know they're beautiful--just the way they are. Just the way God made them.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Angela's Ashes?

Angela Petroni (Sharona's longtime best gal pal) is the least problem-laden member of "The Swimsuit Club." As the locally well-known "Gardening Gourmand" the only ashes she generates are from the much-used grill on her back deck. She has a part-time career she loves, teaching her craft to people who want to learn it in classes once or twice a week. Since the classes are held in Jason's pool complex, she's become good friends with Jason, and is also the reason the Club doesn't have to pay dues and can use competition lanes.

Angela is a traditional nurturing woman, but never a doormat or mousy! She cares *so* much about the lives of the people she loves that her own just seems to run smoothly left to itself. And her idea of a bad day would be having no one to cook for, or share her food with. In that spirit (of sharing food) and in honor of Angela, (a really hip chick) here is a recipe I recently came across which blends ease of preparation with taste. More of Angela's own recipes will be at the back of the book when it is published. Get on the list to be notified--if you want a huge serving of tasteful, fresh fun with a flair, as soon as it's available, that is.


A nice, wide Italian bread is best for this, but French bread will do.
Fresh garlic cloves, or bottled chopped garlic in oil
Cold pressed olive oil (best) OR Any olive oil
A few fresh, ripe tomatoes
Fresh chopped basil (best) OR ground basil

Slice the bread lengthwise and toast, using the broil setting (best) OR a very hot oven.
Peel the fresh garlic and "scrub" it back and forth over the surface of the toasted bread, letting it shred into the bread, or just spoon chopped garlic over the bread as thickly as you like.
If using chopped garlic in oil, you don't need to add any extra. If using fresh garlic cloves, now drizzle some oil over the bread. Top with thinly sliced tomato and basil to taste. Voila! Enjoy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

You Don't Have to Like It (Jason)

When I first started showing signs of being a changed person, people didn't know what to think. Word went around town that I'd become a religious fanatic. Even when it was obvious that I was getting my life together, some people just couldn't handle my new faith.

Cynthia Hinckley supposedly told a lot of people that I was gay. That's the first thing said about me that bothered me, by the way. (Some girls just can't accept that not every guy is eager to hop into bed with them.) Then, after my businesses were doing well, another wave of opinion about me started going over.

They said, "Jason is wonderful for this town!" "Good, upright guy. Looks ahead. " "Why don't you run for mayor?" (I had to laugh at that; but I was honored, too.)

Anyway, then it re-surfaced that I was a Christian; in fact, a shameless Christian. I expected people to be honest in their business dealings, and I was more interested in my church's activities than the Chamber of Commerce's agenda.

(Make no mistake: I am a businessman. I financed the pool complex and moved my gym there, hoping to increase profits, which happened. But I also wanted to provide something good for my community, and that happened, too.)

I get some flack now and then because my weight rooms are filled with signs from the Bible. Things like, 'The glory of young men is their strength." (Proverbs 20:29a) Or, "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze." (Psalm 18:34)

You know what? It encourages the guys [who are training], and it encourages me. God surrounded King David with a special force of "mighty men of strength." And King David honored these men. I am honored that God saw me when I was at my lowest, and weakest, and made me the man that everyone looks up to, now. I'm honored to be strong, not just in my body, but strong for Christ. And it's an honor to me to help other men grow into their strength, and to tell them about Christ.

He's the real strength. I'm not afraid to say it.

And my businesses will reflect what I believe.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Be Still, My Heart! (Angela)

Woo-Hoo! Sharona's back! I am absolutely beside myself here.
Only thing is, I now have to think of a way to make her want to stay! I have missed Sharona so much. Staying in touch with email and instant messenger is nice, but it's not the same as having a friend nearby. (What can I do to make her stay? Pray! ha.) She's got the same small-town roots as me and what's so wonderful about living in a cramped apartment in NYC, anyway? With three or four locks on the door!

Her boyfriend, Patrick--I just don't care for the guy, I don't know why. Sharona is not heads over heels herself, which is actually good, because it means she doesn't have to go back for him. In fact, with Jason in the loop, something just might warm up here between them--oh, my, that would be wonderful! I can't wait for them to meet!

Of course that leaves me the "third man out," so to speak.
(I would love it if I thought for a moment that Jason was interested in me. but he's not. "That chapter is definitely closed.") But hey, at least I'd have Sharona here. It would be worth it. (I have to give Mrs. Davidson a kiss for being sick and getting her to come home! hee-hee. Now that she's out of danger, that is. On second thought, I'll bring her a big pot of my Italian stew. She loves my stew! I do, too.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Could Fat Be Infectious?

A landmark study published this past July purports to prove that obesity is catching. To a degree.

Apparently, how your friends behave in the eating "arena" has more of an impact on you than family, genes, or prior disposition or habits. In fact, even friends you don't see often, if they are still "close" to you emotionally can impact your own weight. In a nutshell, if your best friend puts on lots of weight over the years, you are more likely to do the same, than if she stays slim.

The study's author, a Harvard professor, points out that in a sense, we've known this all along. "Who you tend to hang out with, weight-wise, is more important than who your next-door-neighbor is." Likewise, "When overweight or obesity becomes normal in a given social circle, people may be more likely to become obese themselves."

The good news? (There is good news!) It works both ways. The healthier the people you hang with, the healthier you are likely to try and be yourself. This is very true for Jeanine, as being a member of the Swimsuit Club helps her to stay motivated to swim, and eventually, even to take much better care of herself. Later posts will deal with the self-image issue, and how even overweight women have lots of power in deciding how they want the world to see them, whether they lose weight or not.

Stay tuned for more posts on weight-related issues and self-esteem! Subscribe above.

(original article by
Amanda Gardner called "Family, Friends, May 'Spread' Obesity
HealthDay Reporter
as seen in DivineEloquence Magazine, Aug/Sept Issue)

What He Doesn't Know (Jeanine)

What I wish Johnathan (that's my husband) would realize is that I did not put on weight intentionally, or to punish him, or for any reason that I know of--except having our girls. After my second pregnancy I was too tired to care about what I ate, and even though I'm not tired anymore, I still don't care. (Why should I, when Johnathan cares enough for both of us? Ha!)

He acts like my getting fat was a personal attack on him. Does he think I like walking around with all this extra weight? Okay, I like to eat, and he knew that before he married me. I was never a "skinny-minnie," you know? But when he gives me those "looks" at the dinner table, it always makes me want to add MORE food to my plate! (Sometimes I do, and then he looks even more agonized, and that makes me laugh. For some reason, there is nothing funnier than Johnathan looking terribly agonized because of my second-helpings. Just thinking about his expression at those times can make me laugh out loud.)

I love the man dearly. Just, somebody please, tell him he won't help me lose weight by walking around the house with all that disapproval on his face!

Why doesn't he just pray for me? Why doesn't he tell me he's praying for me?

Why doesn't he love me, the way I am--which just might help me become who he wants me to be? I really do want to change, but his attitude makes my resolve fizzle away. I have enough on my hands raising two, healthy, happy girls. An unhappy husband is a burden I don't need.

Don't miss Jeanine's next post, or any of the Club's! Sign up for The Swimsuit Club updates, Here

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is Modesty Making a Comeback?

An article I read this morning states that modesty is making a comeback.

Women are tired of having to choose between "frumpy" and "Desperate Housewives" (read: slutty). New fashion designers are hearing the call, designing clothes that are actually meant to be elegant and tasteful while offering modesty. Can you imagine? (I might be able to shop in the Junior Departments of major clothing chains for my daughters again!)

I know from speaking to lots of women that this is a trend girls and moms are just waiting to see happen. As the article points out, "
young women who would rather cover up more have trouble finding stylish clothes that work for them."

In The Swimsuit Club, it's true that Sharona Davidson leaves a modeling career and becomes a writer instead. Becky (if you saw her post yesterday, you'll know this) wonders why, but the truth is, Sharona has that long-forgotten virtue known as modesty.

Is she a prude? No way! Anyone who listens to her thoughts as the book moves along, and witnesses what she does, will know that soon enough. But she is uncomfortable posing for the camera in lingerie--a thing most fashion models do routinely. She was also not happy finding herself having to subsist on rabbit food and supplements to look skinny enough for the job--
and then portraying that as if it were normal. Have you seen how some models truly look frail? As if a good wind could send them wafting off into the air at any moment...

Skinny models do not represent an average woman!

If you are a fashion model and want to add a comment on your own experience, whether it supports what I'm saying or not, please do. We'd all love to hear from you.

Read the full article Here

Sometimes I wish I was the beautiful one (Becky)

I am thrilled that Sharona Davidson--the Sharona Davidson, the author, has joined our Club. I love that she's back in Restonville. I just sometimes can't help but notice that, compared to her, I am plain Jane.

Frannie's got a style of beauty, if you like Twiggie (I shouldn't say that! I know she's ill, and, honestly, I pray for her every night!) She could be more beautiful, if she were healthy. And Angela, is very, very pretty, even beautiful. But Sharona...well, she's got that kind of look that sets her apart. I mean, why was I surprised to learn that she used to model? All you have to do is look at her once, and then you can't take your eyes off her! I'm not sure I understand why she gave up modeling just to write, in fact.

I watch Jason and the way he looks at her, and I am happy for Sharona. Angela and I often exchange smiles when he gets "that look" on his face, (which is whenever she's around). But Sharona doesn't seem to even notice! How could she not? Any girl would be happy to have Jason as an admirer! I mean, I'm already engaged, so I wouldn't, but Sharona ought to realize what's going on here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Woman Power (Linore Rose Burkard)

Here's a quote from an article I saw in my inbox recently:

"Women have long desired to be empowered and in control of their destinies, but it has been an uphill battle. Many countries or religions still treat women as second-class citizens or property."

As a Christian author, (writing a chick-lit book) it begs the question: How does God view women? Hasn't the Bible been used for centuries as "proof" that women are second best? Or maybe you've seen this blog and wondered why on earth would six women in today's world even want to try and live a Christian life?

You may need to explore that question at length, for yourself. But a short answer, in my opinion, is that the Christian life alone gives value to everything you are in your womanhood.

As the article goes on to point out, "Throughout history God has empowered women." In the Bible there are examples of women in such positions of power as:
Judge (a la the Supreme Court. A judge was that powerful.)
Financial backers to ministries (such as for Jesus'!)
Wise Manager
Teacher and Mentor
Composer of songs
Prayer warrior

He also showed that women's "natural" callings such as to be wives and mothers was worthy of the highest esteem. "Jesus gave women a significant place in his life and ministry and he elevated the status of women in Jewish society." The women in the early church are mentioned over and over again for their multitudinous methods of support and help in both maintaining and spreading the gospel.

Are you woman? You are strong! Not because of a flawed idea of being "liberated" but because God created you with the freedom to be ALL that you are capable of . Be liberated into the knowledge of the One who made you to shine--whether it be by investing, starting a business, or singing in the choir. Perhaps you're home with young children. Shine while you're home!

Being a woman is not a curse. We are one-half of God's image.

Quotes taken from "The Ultimate Source of Girl Power" by Tonya Ruiz and Nancy C. Anderson (aka the Cheetah Chicks)

Visit the Chicks Here

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (Frannie)

My day starts with me and the mirror.
I keep telling myself not to do it, but every morning, it's the same old routine. I have to undress completely and see myself. As if I might have somehow gained a lot of weight overnight.

I don't see myself the way other people do. I'm pretty sure about that.

One day, I was walking on a crowded street in Lexington, not thinking about anything other than the bus I had to catch. (I was on my way to meet my mother, who wanted me to shop with her. She gets nasty if I'm late.)

As I was hurrying along, I happened to glance up and I saw this very slim and beautiful young woman. It took me a second to realize that I was approaching a mirrored panel outside this store, and that the woman I'd seen was actually me! In that same split second, the image ahead of me changed, and that slim, attractive woman was gone. Instead, I saw me. I wasn't that slim. And I certainly wasn't that attractive.

I continued on, thinking about what had happened. Had I really seen a glimpse of myself the way other people saw me? In that unguarded moment? Maybe my mind was just playing tricks on me.

Mirror, mirror, are you telling me the truth?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Problem (Sharona Speaking)

So--You want to know what my problem is?

Actually, I don't think it's my problem at all! We may as well get this straight and get it good: It's not "my" problem.

I'm not ashamed of who I am.

I'm not sorry for what I believe.

I have the right to choose--to believe--what I want to.
I mean, if it's a free country for everyone else, then it's a free country for me, too.

And I believe--I
choose to believe--in God. Some people interpret that as a problem . And almost every guy I have ever met definitely does. Want to know why? Because I value my virginity.

And they don't.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Motorcycles--and Me?

Book research can take you places you'd never *normally* consider venturing. In my current book project, (The Swimsuit Club) the hero, Jason, owns a Harley Davidson. Online snooping around just wasn't answering all my questions, so I went to a meeting of a local group of Motorcyclists--and met some fabulous people.

The group was a chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, called "Warriors for Christ." I was able to ask questions to my heart's content, and was even given a nice close-up inspection of a sporty Harley as well as a few "dressed out" bikes.

(This is going to be perfect for my heroine's first ride on Jason's bike.)

I do remember my one--and only--ride on a motorcycle. I was visiting my cousin and dear friend Carol at her brother's house in Vermont. Just being in Vermont was an amazing eye-opener for this city girl. (Seeing pictures of a place just isn't the same as being there!)
Anyway, Kurt, (Carol's older brother) took me for a "spin" almost the moment I set foot in his house. It was extraordinary.

I was terrified, but also exhilarated. The beauty of the mountains took my breath away, and the winding country roads, empty except for us, were surreal. The unfamiliar climbs up steep, mountainous strips of road, lined thickly with dense forest, was simply unforgettable. Kurt was having fun showing off his beautiful adopted state, (and scaring the daylights out of me) and I clung to him for dear life. When we halted atop a nearby summit for an awe-inspiring view of mountain tops, I might just as well have been in the Alps! To me, this was like another country. I just couldn't believe the beauty.

Even so, it was a relief to climb off that bike. But that was over twenty-five years ago. (Yikes! Time flies.) After seeing so many beautiful shiny bikes up close at the meeting, and putting my newest fictional heroine on one, I'm starting to think it's high time for another ride myself.
Want to "haul" a rider, anyone? (Just kidding. That's biker-speak for carrying a passenger. See? You learn important stuff when you do face-to-face research!)


PS: This blog will feature all sorts of things about The Swimsuit Club, including excerpts . Next time, you'll meet the characters--briefly. Sharona, Angela, Frannie, Jeanine, Becky, Lisa, Jason and Pat. They've got a lot to say, and my blog will be an outlet for them for things that just won't fit in the book.