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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pinterest FAIL

T-shirt Yarn

I love the idea of it. The cheapness of it. The pins on pinterest about it.

But working with it?

 Now that’s a whole ‘nother story!

One I do not like.

I tried. I spent days crocheting some baskets. Crocheting with T-shirt yarn is tough. It’s stiff and requires a lot of wrist action. (read that as – it hurts to crochet the stuff!)

In the pin they looked so cute. On the blog I followed it looked so easy.

Here’s my version.

tshirt yarn basket

Looks NOTHING like the pictures.

Now I’m stuck. I’ve run out of the color scheme. Do I find more yellow or orange? Do I continue with the baskets? (Baskets? I know they look like bowls, but the pin told me they were baskets.) Or, do I unravel them?

What would you do with my pinterest fail?

First Love


Looking for a wholesome, uplifting movie? The premier is this weekend!

I’ll be there!

First Love, produced by Reflective Life Ministries, is a modern day story based on the life of Peter. Joe is a natural leader who is impulsive and passionate, but he needs a heart transformation in order to follow a higher calling. As he struggles to decide between ambition and humility, his marriage to Catherine and his career hang in the balance. Catherine must come to grips with the reality of her past to find healing for present relationships. Teenagers, Michael and Emily, are working through their faith and a budding friendship, while Emily’s sister, Sarah, covers them all with faithful prayer. Throughout the film, Anthony Vero and his Aunt Rosa guide and instruct with God’s truth, hoping eternal work will be accomplished as Joe returns to his first love.

10% of the proceeds go to Redeemed ministry.

… you might just see one of my kids in it!

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Coming soon – Big Changes!

This summer I hit the year mark on this blog. During this time, I realized I enjoy blogging more than I anticipated.

Now it’s time to make some changes. I’ll still be the same me, with the same words, and the same topics, but there will be a few changes. (yeah, and those are top secret for now! wink, wink.)

When will this happen? I’m shooting for November.

Until then, things will be the same over here.

For now, I want to hear from you!

Please leave a comment with this information:

The topics I enjoy the most are ____________.

My favorite post is _______________________.

The posts I tend to skip are about_____________.

I want to read more about ____________________.

Oh! I can’t wait to hear from you! Just leave the info in the comments or send me an email! (

Time to Start Again – Church Small Groups

This could also be titled-

Confessions of a Church Small Group Leader

confession small group

Church small groups are the new wave of what I knew as Sunday School. It was easy back then. You were assigned to a group. You went. You went home. If you were lucky, there were socials and prayer chains. Sometimes you felt connected. Sometimes you didn’t. It was easy, but easy isn’t always best.

I love the idea of small groups. Our church still has a few Sunday morning classes, but encourages small groups. Love Jesus. Journey Together. Bring Hope. Small groups allow us to journey together. Live life in fellowship. Be church all week. It’s not as easy as Sunday school, but it is effective.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:18-20

Tonight is the start of something new. Our church is launching a new program and my husband and I are starting a new small group. This is try #4 for small groups. We joined two or three groups and just didn’t find one that worked. That’s not totally true. We found one that worked, until it didn’t. The busyness of life took over and the group crumbled. We still hug the necks and ask for prayer from the families in the group. Our hearts are still connected, we just don’t “do life” together in an organized fashion.

After not finding the right small group for us (not that there was anything “wrong” with the other groups… we just didn’t feel as connected) we jumped into leading one. It was rough. After the first list of names turning over and scattering, we’re onto a completely new list of names (except for one family). Two families I’ve never met, and one acquaintance. Exciting and intimidating.

That brings us to tonight. We are meeting everyone. I’m a bundle of nerves. It’s at our house. Our tweens are providing childcare. (My oldest kids will be out… gulp.) Lots of thoughts about how this isn’t what I normally do are taking over my thoughts. I lead children, not adults.

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-15

Then I remember this is not about me. It’s all about HIM.

They are not here to inspect my house or compare it to theirs.

They are not here to check out my decorating skills.

They are not here to eat fancy desserts.

They are not here to hear lofty prayers or wordy sermons.

They are here to pray, hear from God, and connect with others.

I can connect. That’s all I need to do. Be here. Be open.

The truth is – my house is a mess.

The truth is – there are no decorations.

The truth is – I didn’t even bake cookies.

The truth is – I don’t have fancy words.

The truth is – it’s NOT about me. Unless I make it that way. And when I do, he still shines through – despite me.

Just when I become OK with the fact that people I don’t know are about to see my mess-

the news came that the church opened childcare. We don’t have to meet at my house. I don’t have to open up and reveal all that.

Time to relax and let God do His thing.

Take ordinary lives and do unordinary things.

Homeschooling Through the Unexpected

The unexpected hit us from many directions this year. From the minor (computer in the shop for a week) to the major (death in the family) we’ve overcome them all. With each unexpected event, we learned a lot and remained standing on the other side. Did I mention I learned an awful lot?

hs unexpected

The main thing I learned was flexibility.

It’s one of the reasons we homeschool – greater flexibility. That being said, I like to control the flexibility. We enjoy vacationing off season. I call that flexibility. But it’s a very controlled flexibility. What about sick days, or leaving town unexpectedly? Those are NOT controlled flexibility.

How do you handle the uncontrolled flexibility?

1. Build in days for flexibility. Or weeks – I have the whole month of December for flexibility (except for co op classes and a few courses that started late). If we stay on top of things, we can use that time to rest, or get ahead. If we fall behind, school carries on!

2. Remember, not every workbook page NEEDS to be completed. Replace some history chapters with a documentary covering the same information. Curriculum is just a guide. Not the only way to teach that subject matter.

3. Whatever you do – Do NOT stress.

4. Trust God’s plan – not yours.

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

5. Believe in what you’re doing.

What are your tips for Homeschooling through the unexpected?

Thinking about Writing a Book?


Janice Thompson:

Janice, I understand you’re about to debut a brand new book for novelists. Why veer from your usual comedic writing to put together a book for writers?

Because I love writers! I’ve always had a heart for novelists and want to do every thing I can to help and encourage them, whether they’re penning that first story or fifty-first. This book has information that should be helpful to pros and novices, alike. I’ve noticed a trend in recent years. Incoming writers approach me, one after the other, asking the same questions and struggling with the same problems. I’ve worn myself out giving the same answers. There are only so many times and ways you can say, “You’re head-hopping, honey!” Because of that, I decided it would be easier to compile the information into a writing text, which I’ve titled Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. I can’t wait to see what novelists think of this exciting new book.


Can you tell us a little about your background as a novelist?

Every writer hopes to write “The Great American Novel.” I started writing novels as a child, so the desire to craft “story” has always been inside of me. In the mid ‘90s I started writing with the desire to be published. After years of trial and error, my first novel hit the shelves in 2000. Since then, I’ve published nearly 100 books (about 2/3 of which are novels in a variety of genres). I’ve had a blast and will continue penning novels as long as there’s breath in me.


You’ve titled the book Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. Can you share a little more about that?

I wrestled with the title for a couple of days, wanting to get it right. In the end, I came to this decision: Writers want TWO things. First, they want to know how to WRITE their novel. The first half of the book is completely dedicated to this process and includes every single thing a novelist (established or beginning) will need to write the best possible story. The second half of the book is dedicated to SELLING the novel and includes helpful information on pitching, marketing, working with an editor/agent, and even offers a comprehensive look at self-publishing to e-Book form. To check out the books full Table of Contents, go here.


You’ve started with a chapter on understanding the genres. Why is that?

I’ve published in multiple genres. My first book was a suspense-thriller. I’ve since written historicals, contemporaries, children’s, young adult, romances, mysteries and much, much more. Because I’ve been able to successfully cross genre lines, I feel qualified to teach on the subject. Before writers can establish themselves as novelists, they must develop an understanding of the fiction genres/categories. Choosing the best genre (or genres) is critical to your success. But with so many categories to choose from, how do you know which is your best fit? This chapter will give writers a thorough introduction to genre writing and will provide them with the necessary information to choose the one(s) best suited to their literary style and voice.


I see you’ve included a lesson on plotting. Is this based on your “Plot Shots” teaching, which you’ve offered at conferences?

Yes! I’m so tickled to finally be able to offer this teaching in a book format. I’ve become known as “that Plot Shots lady.” That’s okay. I can live with that. I’m a firm believer in laying out a great plotline. Why? Because every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Careful plotting will lead the reader on a satisfactory, realistic journey through each of those stages, creatively weaving in and out, up and down.  The “Plot Shots” method gives writers the tools they need to plot their novel in twelve easy snapshots. It’s a fun and easy approach to plotting that won’t confuse or complicate the story.


Characterization is such an important component of fiction writing. Can you tell us more about your characterization chapter?

Years ago I developed a teaching that I call “Pandora’s Box.” It’s a layered approach to characterization, which uses the illustration of multiple boxes, one inside the other. In this lesson, I lay out the need for great characterization, then present the Pandora’s Box method. After presenting the method, I take the student through the process four times, using four fictional characters as a foundation. (Each character has a different personality, so the student learns how to apply the technique to the various personalities.)


So many writers struggle with P.O.V. (point of view). Is that why you included a chapter on that very tough subject?

Point of View (P.O.V.) is a critical fiction component. Employing to your best advantage is tough. Most of the young writers I know struggle in this area. The head-hop. Oh, they don’t mean to. . .but they do! My detailed teaching on Point of View offers novelists a thorough teaching on the various P.O.V.s (omniscient, third person, second person, first person), and gives specific examples and tips so that writers can become P.O.V. purists.


Can you tell us some of the top fiction mistakes?

Sure! After editing hundreds of manuscripts, I can point out some of the “top” fiction mistakes: Lack of a good hook. P.O.V. issues. Passive writing. Weak characterization. Poor plotting (no “belly of the whale” scene). Overuse of adverbs. On and on the list goes. Many writers simply don’t realize they’re making these mistakes until someone points them out. They wonder why the book keeps getting rejected. This lesson offers writers a thorough list, detailing the top twenty mistakes novelists make.


Why did you decide to add a lesson on humor writing?

I’ve been writing comedies for years and have learned so much along the way. Humor writing is tough stuff! Some writers are born with an overactive funny bone. Others have to work hard to be funny. (Ironic, isn’t it?!) If you’re interested in adding a little har-de-har-har-har to your novel, then you will enjoy this light-hearted lesson.


The second half of the book is devoted to pitching and promoting the book, as well as working with editors/agents, etc. Why include all of this information?

I included this information because the average novelist needs a wake-up call. We writers are solitary souls. We sit in front of our computers and lose ourselves in our stories. Then comes the time to pitch that story to an editor. We freeze. Courage eludes us. We need to proper tools to get the book through the publisher’s door and the second half of Writing and Selling the Great American Novel offers that. . .and more!


Speaking of getting a book through a publisher’s door: Putting together a book proposal is tough! What have you learned over the years?

Book deals are won or lost based on the proposal. If you’ve got a completed manuscript and you’re ready to pitch it to an agent or editor, then this exciting lesson on query letters and book proposals will point you in the right direction, giving you all the confidence you need to submit, submit, submit! Novelists who use the information provided in this chapter can compose polished query letters and dazzling book proposals, sure to impress both editors and agents, alike.


You’ve included a section on marketing and promotion. Can you share a little about that process here?

Sure! I love marketing my books and enjoy teaching other novelists how to promote their books, as well. This section of the book is absolutely loaded with practical ideas for getting the word out about your book once it’s published. I’ve included tips related to social media, public speaking, and much more. Whether you’re working with the marketing team at your publishing house or promoting a self-published novel, you will get the tools you need to spread the word.


Where can people find Writing and Selling the Great American Novel?

They will find it on amazon for the next ninety days. From September 13th – 16th (the dates of the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference) the book will sell for $3.99. On the morning of the 17th the price will jump to its “forever” price of $8.99, a real bargain for such a comprehensive text.


Where can people find you on the web?

My website:

My facebook page:

Twitter: booksbyjanice


Thanks so much for joining us, Janice. Can I ask you to leave more information about your writing courses?

They can learn more at On that site, they will also find my “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” course, which many students have already taken. Folks can learn more about that one by clicking on this video: I offered a free webinar on the subject some time ago, and it can be found here: We’ll be adding to the course list periodically, so stay tuned for more announcements!

Believe in What You’re Doing

encouragementBelieve in what you’re doing.

Today, in all the work of your hands, believe it is also a work of heart. Because no matter what you do, you are touching hearts today.

To touch someone’s heart, yours has to be in the right place.

What’s the right place? Held fast in Him.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1 NIV

Trust that He’s got this.

It doesn’t fall on your shoulders. Line yourself with Him and trust that He will do the REAL work… you just plant the seeds.

When you don’t see those heart results in the moment,

He’s taking care of it for you.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8  NIV

Hope! Hope in Him.

Heap Hope on others. When you just aren’t feelin’ it, when you’re strugglin’ to believe, look for someone to bring hope to.

How? Serve. When you serve others you give hope.

When you give hope, you start to feel it again too.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-12 NIV

And if you’re still stuck – really, really, stuck – ask for prayer.

Cause sometimes, that’s all it takes.




Not in yourself… But in Him.

Give yourself grace and sprinkle it on those around you. Cause who couldn’t use some extra grace today?

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5 NIV

When School Feels Dangerous

…and homeschooling isn’t an option.

I don’t want to write about this. But the ugly truth is, well, ugly. Last week a young man lost his life too soon in a school stabbing. In my town. All the schools in the area were on lock down. Parents were panicked.


Last night a local church (the church we attended when all of my babies were born. my old church. hallowed ground) held the memorial service for this young man.

And shots were fired.
Please note! The news report (Yes the local news – not mere rumors) was incorrect. Shots were not fired. A scuffle broke out but no guns were involved.

At church, people!

Oh how my heart aches.

What I want to do is rant and rage and point fingers. But that won’t help. I’m going to give you scared mommas some peace. If I had to send my babies (ahem, I know they are teens, but as we all know, they are always our babies) to school today, my nerves would be fried.

When school feels dangerous (and homeschooling isn’t an option) there are things you can do.

1. Pray

2. Trust – Give your children to God and leave them in His capable hands.

3. Teach them what to do in dangerous situations. Knowledge is power. Tell them what to do when a fight breaks out. It’s human nature to want to see what’s going on, but a whole lot safer to walk away. That being said, keep it age appropriate. A six year old does not need images of bloodshed. You can teach them about fighting without words about blood and knives.

4. Do not put your fear on your kids. They are kids. They do not need to carry your fears around with them. Do what you can to alleviate their fears.

5. Don’t hesitate to talk to the school. If you have concerns, ask your child’s teacher. They are there to help. They want to provide a safe place for your child.

6. Don’t make rash decisions out of fear. While I’m a huge proponent of homeschooling, I caution people about making rash decisions out of fear. If you have a high school student, find out everything you can about local private schools or homeschooling before pulling them out. Ask yourself Should I homeschool? And give yourself a few weeks to answer.

7. Keep Praying.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time… Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1: 7, 9, 12

Homeschool Survival Bag (pass it on)





park passI spent weeks planning this and yesterday was my target day; however, we woke to horrific news about a fatal stabbing at a nearby school. I almost didn’t do this activity. I almost didn’t run this post today. BUT yesterday was the perfect time to spread a little sunshine. Today is the perfect time to run this post. We all need a little sunshine. Let me tell you – it’s worth it. The smiles, texts, facebook shout outs made it worth every penny and every minute I spent. I learned a few lessons. But I’m saving those for another day.

I made a few of these bags and delivered them to some fellow homeschool moms ding-dong-ditch style. It definitely added some excitement to our day! Feel free to take my idea and pass it on! (and to the traditional schooled moms- take this idea and make one for you! The point is to get out there and make someone smile!)

Homeschool Survival Bag

Dear Mom,

You’re starting another year of your calling. While it’s the biggest blessing of ALL, it’s also a challenge.

Many moms worry about completing homework. The homeschool mom worries about providing the entire education their child will receive. Is it an adequate education, preparing your child for college – and life beyond? Heavy questions.

Many moms worry about waiting in the carpool line. The homeschool mom worries about turning an ordinary walk into a major science lesson, or on some days, finding time alone to shower.

This bag is for the days that don’t go as planned. The days a school bus looks like a bit of freedom…

May these days be few and far between!

Tea – to relax in the midst of chaos.

Post it notes – keep sticking to the truth!

Chocolate – just because it makes everything better!

Park Pass – When all else fails, PLAY!

Have an amazing year!

The Vogels

*Please take this idea. Download my Park pass and letter and use it to spread a little sunshine to others.*

Pass It On!

Whole Family Strong

Whole Family Strong

My friends over at Whole Family Strong launched their new website.

Faith. Family. Health.

Family Strong.

Spiritually Strong.

Physically Strong.

Head over there and check them out. While you’re there, sign up for their emails. They have some really cool stuff coming up – maybe even some giveaways!

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