Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Wisdom Comes With Age: Myth Busted!

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman

After all my years as a functioning adult, how can I still be so gullible? Isn’t wisdom supposed to come with age? If only Jamie and Adam of MythBusters had tested that theory, I’d have been better prepared.

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. ~ Thessalonians 5:19-22 (MSG)

Anyway, here’s the scoop. Recently, I wanted to buy some moisturizer, but didn’t know which one to get. In my defense, I dislike shopping and making decisions, so when an opportunity came along to skip all that, I thought it was a tiny miracle wrapped in God’s grace.

“How did the opportunity come along?” you ask.

I saw an ad online somewhere. (And, no, I don’t remember where. My husband, David, has lectured me on that already.) The ad caught my attention, first because it said “FREE trial!” Need I go on?

Did you catch the small print? “Simulated imagery. Results not typical.”

The second hook was “anti-aging.” I’m probably 30 40 years too late for that, but I couldn’t find one that claimed “reverse-aging.”  I reasoned that the “anti-redness” and “pore-refining” agents couldn’t hurt.

The third reason clinched the deal! All the gazillionaire members of the Shark Tank reality show had invested in this amazing product. How could I go wrong with the sharpest business minds in the country backing it?

Can you say “too good to be true”?

“How did you find that out?” you ask.

When David opened the credit card bill three weeks later. “Sweetie, did you order an ounce of anti-aging cream for $92.00?”

Indignant, I answered, “I most certainly did not. I ordered an ounce of anti-aging cream for FREE.”

FRONT: Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, and Lori Greiner. BACK: Daymond John, Clarice G. James (newest investor) and Robert Herjavec

“Okaay …. how about an under eye cream for another $92.00?”

“Hey! They said they’d throw that in for nothing.”

In less than 60 seconds online, David found a number of consumer warnings about this scam. Apparently, I’d missed the fine print in the ad, which said I could try it FREE for 15 days. If I was unhappy, I had to send the free samples back, or I’d be charged.

Instantly my head began to ache, like common sense was hitting it with a hammer, yelling, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” What was I thinking?

David spent the next few weeks on the phone with the scammers, the credit card company, and the Better Business Bureau until the matter was settled. End result: All charges were deleted from our credit card. Most importantly, my husband held no charges against me. Now that’s what a tiny miracle wrapped in God’s grace looks like.

“Did you learn your lesson?” you ask.

I sure did. But one good thing came out of this whole mess. An FBI agent contacted me to work undercover for them in their White Collar Division. They’re doing a background check on me now. All I had to do was give their agent–real nice guy, he was–my mother’s maiden name, my date of birth, and my social security number. I get paid $92.00 for every tip I send them.

Click here for more Beauty Tips and Lessons on Being Gullible.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:7 (MSG)

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Twelve Words for a Word Searcher’s Vocabulary #8

Gracious speech is like clover honey—good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body. ~ Proverbs 16:24 (MSG)
When I can’t sleep at night, I get up and read a couple of chapters of whatever book I’m enjoying. After that, I try to bore myself to sleep by doing a few word search puzzles. 

This usually does the trick–until I come across words I don’t know. Here’s a list of them. Do you know their meaning? 

  1. bismutha) gray and overcast; b) brittle, grayish-white metallic element; c) standing ovation; d) grandiose
  2. coeval – a) equally old; b) architectural detail; c) hut built over a mine shaft; d) wide and shallow
  3. drupe – a) ancient alphabet; b) to doubt; c) to hang on or over; d) any fruit with an outer skin, pulpy middle, and hard inner shell
  4. fipple – a) indecisive; b) block that forms a flue in wind instruments; c) type of dwarf tree; d) public disturbance
  5. jaggery – a) sharp protrusion; b) sugar made from the sap of a date palm; c) unrestrained indulgence; d) latest Rolling Stones album title
  6. muntin – a) aged; b) flesh of a mature sheep used for food;) playfully mean or cruel; d) strip separating panes of glass in a sash
  7. nitid – a) idiot-like; b) handmade; c) bright and lustrous; d) infected by the egg of a louse or other parasitic insect
  8. piggina) small wooden pail; b) newborn pigs; c) type of fastener; d) type of English pudding
  9. rondellea) type of French cheese; b) vegan casserole; c) circular jewel; d) type of saw
  10. scow – a) look of disapproval; b) jurisdiction over a territory or over people; c) large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends; d) fist fight
  11. twite – a) beyond a shadow of a doubt; b) small finch; c) stomach of a ruminant; d) to flutter about
  12. valgus – a) essential amino acid; b) earthly or mortal; c) not easily discerned; d) knock-kneed or bowlegged

thinking capHave you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. ~ James 3:7-12 (NLT)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. b) Bismutha brittle, grayish-white, red-tinged, metallic element used in the manufacture of fusible alloys and in medicine
  2. a) Coevalof the same age, date, or duration; equally old
  3. d) Drupeany fruit, as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, usually a pulpy and succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell, usually enclosing a single seed
  4. b) Fipple: a wooden block that forms a flue at the mouth end of certain musical instruments
  5. b) Jaggerya coarse, dark sugar, especially that made from the sap of East Indian (date) palm trees
  6. d) Muntin: a strip separating panes of glass in a sash
  7. c) Nitid: bright and lustrous
  8.  a) Piggin: a small wooden pail with one stave extended upward as a handle
  9. c) Rondelle: a circular object; especially a circular jewel or jeweled ring
  10. c) Scow: a large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends used chiefly for transporting bulk material (as ore, sand, or refuse)
  11. b) Twite: a small finch, Carduelis flavirostris, of northern Europe, having streaked brown plumage and, in the male, a pink breast
  12. d) Valgus: an abnormally turned position of a part of the bone structure of human being, especially of the leg. Bowlegged, knock-kneed, or the like

Jumping for joy over your score?

10-12  May I call you in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep?

07-09 When you speak, do blank faces stare back at you?

04-06 My kind of person!

00-03  I don’t think you’re trying very hard.


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In Jeopardy on Jeopardy

alex-welcomeWhenever my husband David and I visit my father-in-law, we have to watch Jeopardy so that sweet man can count how many answers his Son-the-Genius gets right. The genius title has been disputed by David numerous times, but his proud father insists there’s an IQ test score floating around in history to prove it.

Of course, David doesn’t help his non-genius argument when he throws out correct responses like these: “What is a Leopard 10-point Crampon Flexlock?” … “Who are the Limeliters?” … “What is an Aye Aye?” … “Who is responsible for the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Disorder?” … “What is Gallopin’ Gertie?” … “Who is O. Winston Link?

aye-aye

Aye Aye

Who knows all these things … I mean, besides my husband … and people like him?

Not to brag, but I know a lot of stuff too. In fact, my knowledge base is so massive I have to store it outside my brain in places like the Oxford English Dictionary, People Magazine, and Wikipedia. As a fail-safe, two self-appointed guards are in place to correct me: 1) my husband, Son-the-Genius, and 2) my friend, Smarty-Pants Mahoney. But I am quite certain I could do as well on Jeopardy … if they’d only change the categories. Why, I might even rout Son-the-Genius! [For instance, see how I used the word “rout” instead of “beat?”]

Here’s the way I imagine it would go …

CLARICE, WIFE OF SON-THE-GENIUS: “Alex, I’ll take CANDY for 400.”

ALEX TREBEK: “Nation famous for red fish.” 

CLARICE: Buzz. “What is Sweden, the country of origin of those chewy fish that get caught between your teeth but taste so good?”

“Yes, it could be a winky face …

ALEX: “Correct.” Chuckle, chuckle. “Even with the mixed review.”

CLARICE: “Let me have PUNCTUATION for 600, Alex.”

ALEX:  “A partial punctuation mark.”

CLARICE: Buzz. “What is a semicolon, which you should avoid using when writing fiction–especially in dialogue–because editors are not partial to it?”

ALEX: “Correct–again with more editorializing.”

CLARICE: “Glad you like it, Alex. I’ll move on to COLORS for 800.”

ALEX: “A French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737.”

CLARICE: Buzz. “What is Chartreuse–also a color which I never wear because it makes me look old and jaundiced?”

ALEX: “Um, you’re right again … uh, not about looking old or jaundiced… uh, I mean … never mind.”

CLARICE: “Thanks, Alex. You’re too kind. Now I’ll take HGTV for 1,000.”

ALEX: Family, Waco, magnolia, farmhouse.

CLARICE: Buzz. “Who are Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of Fixer Upper, whose style I love unless she gets too country like the time she used the rusty, dented red metal buckets for kitchen lamp shades, which were a bit too much for me, but what did you think?”

jeopardy-with-cj-2

ALEX: “Uh, correct again, Clarice. I’m sorry, but I’d like to stay on point next time, if you don’t mind?”

CLARICE: “Works for me, Alex. No need to apologize. Besides, I would’ve gotten the last one right on the word Waco alone. How about BIBLE for 1,200?”

ALEX: “It’s the Daily Double! Clarice, you have $10,000 so far. What would you like to wager?”

CLARICE: “I’ll make it a true Daily Double, Alex. Never know when I’ll get this chance again.”

ALEX: “Four creatures sent as part of the plagues against Egypt.”

CLARICE: “What are frogs, mothers-in-law–just kidding!–mice–oops, no, I mean lice–flies, and locusts?”

ALEX: “Hmm. It seems you have more than four creatures … Wait. Our judges have ruled in your favor. Looks like we have a new champion!”

CLARICE: “But what about Final Jeopardy?”

ALEX: “Brad and Stephanie have no money to wager, so that’s the end of our show for today.”

CLARICE: “But I have a lot more answer-questions. I’ll be quick. What is on the lam (not lamb)? What is soapstone? Who is Snoop Dogg? What is claptrap? Where is Patagonia? What is tongue-in-groove and tongue-in-cheek? What are washboard abs? Who are Andrew Johnson and Julie Andrews? Where is Mount Nebo? What are Spoolies? …

ALEX, HOLDING UP HIS HAND: “Again, Clarice, you won, the show is over …”

 

alex-stop-talkingCLARICE, HOLDING UP HER HAND: “… What is a frozen rope? Where is Waldo? What is a frozen shoulder? Who is Amy Carmichael? What is Pierre? What is hardtack? Who is Bobby Vinton? What is the number 42? Who is Juan Ponce de Leon? Where is Double Header?

Yep. It would go a lot like that.

alex-needs-helpDoes not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.. ~ Proverbs 8:1-6 (NIV)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

Note: To those who know me well (and those who don’t know me at all), you have surmised correctly–I did NOT appear on Jeopardy.


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Meet Author Christy Brunke

In the winter of 2015, I met Christy Brunke at the Writer to Writer Conference in Hershey, PA.  I was smitten by her smile, enthusiasm, and sincerity. We were both finalists in the Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest. I thought, “Lord, I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if she won.” The Lord was gracious! We both won book publishing contracts that year–along with our soon-to-be-friend Linda Brooks Davis! 

CJ:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Who first supported you in this dream? 

CB: When I was born, my parents named me Christy after Catherine Marshall’s bestselling novel. You might say Marshall and her famous heroine were my first inspirations. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading, especially inspirational fiction.  

As a little girl, I was always dreaming up stories. I remember going into a patch of woods near our house and pretending I was the queen of a small kingdom. When my brother Jeremy was born, I was disappointed he couldn’t walk or talk. My solution? Create an imaginary friend named “Eremy.” In sixth grade, I won a short story contest and was rewarded with a Butterball turkey. From then on, I dreamed of writing novels, memoirs, and children’s books.

My mom, another avid reader, was the first to suggest I write novels. But I probably inherited by creativity from my dad. A former singer and songwriter, he helped me plot Snow Out of Season.

CJ: What did you do before you became a writer?  

CB: Penning Snow Out of Season was an incredible experience, but, before that, the Lord led me on other adventures. I completed a bachelor of arts in English and moved to China to study Mandarin and teach at a university. When I returned to the States, I attended seminary and taught drama and music.  

Then God called me to Chicago to work at a multi-site church where I fell in love with a zany youth pastor. After we got married, a story grew in my heart, one I felt compelled to share. Now was the time to pursue that long-delayed dream.  

snow-out-of-sesasonCJ: Tell us a little bit about your debut novel Snow Out of Season.

CB: Two pregnant women separated by time . . . Are they more connected than they know? 

Shannon Henry is just starting to put her life back together after the death of her infant daughter when she discovers she’s pregnant again. When her doctor presents her with the choice of either raising a child with Down syndrome or terminating the pregnancy, Shannon is torn. 

Leslie Gardner is a high-school senior in 1979 who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, but discovers she is pregnant. If she has the child, her chances of a dancing career and college are over …

CJ: What inspired you to write this particular book? 

KB: As a teen and young adult, I longed for a God-scripted love story. I devoured books like Elisabeth Elliot’s Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity. Realizing my Creator knew me better than anyone, and knew every man as well, I asked Him to choose my husband.  And He did.  

Mark complements me perfectly and has been an incredible blessing to me and many others. But when his mom was pregnant with him, her circumstances would have led many women to have an abortion. I started wondering what my life would have been like if she’d made a different choice. 

So began Snow Out of Season, the dual stories of two women of two generations who struggle with the same questions. Is the child each carries worthy of life? What will it cost to keep the child? What will happen if each decides not to? 

CJ: How have your readers responded?

CB: Fiction lovers, book reviewers, and other novelists have blessed me with their reactions to Snow Out of Season. 

  • The Library Journal called it “. . . an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending . . . completely engrossing.” 
  • Award-winning author Brandy Vallance said Snow Out of Season is . . . a beautifully poignant and much-needed story.”  
  • Bestselling author Sandra Byrd said, “The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.” 

Amazon readers have encouraged me greatly with their 5-star reviews, including: 

  • “Best book I have read in years.” 
  • “Great New Author!” 
  • “Couldn’t put it down!” 
  • “I cried!”
  • “Fantastic  – A Must Read!!!”

CJ: What writing projects are you currently working on? 

CB: During this season of my life, I’m focusing on book events, blogging weekly, and writing articles for online newspapers. In 2017, I hope to begin writing my next book. Between novels, creative nonfiction, and children’s picture books, I have over a dozen ideas. 

On my website, I plan to share teasers for my best tales and ask readers to help me decide. Subscribe to my blog at ChristyBrunke.com, so you can tell me which one you’d like to read next!

christy-brunkes-author-photo

MORE ABOUT CHRISTY: Three months after her second daughter was born, she entered her manuscript in the Operation First Novel contest. In January 2015, Jerry Jenkins announced her story was a winner. In November, the Library Journal named Snow Out of Season the Christian Fiction Debut of the Month. By January, it topped Amazon bestseller lists. Christy Lives in Maryland with her husband, Mark, and their two adorable daughters. When she’s not at church or with her family, you can often find her blogging, writing articles, or dreaming up her next story.

Click HERE and scroll down to order all three winners of the last Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest: The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis, Double Header by Clarice G.  James, and Snow Out of Season by Christy Brunke.


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So Very Thankful: Remission Accomplished

so-very-thankfulHands down, this year’s major to-be-thankful-for item is my husband David’s remission from cancer. His diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia early in January was a jumpstart to a year of extreme faith.

I remember the first prayer we prayed: “Lord, cancer does not define us! Our faith in you does. Help us to remember that as you carry us through this journey.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “‘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.’”

Our hope is in God, our future is with God—whether here on earth or in Heaven.

We shook off our pre-planned 2016 agendas and headed to Boston, thankful we lived in close proximity to some of the best hospitals in the world. We are grateful for the expertise and experience of the caring medical teams who still treat David. We were blessed with help from family and friends—most especially the perfectly-matched stem cells from David’s sister, Darleen.

peace-lloyd-jonesWe didn’t fret or fear.We prayed and trusted God—not necessarily for David’s healing, but for God’s perfect will for our lives. We’re not naive. We know bad things happen to all people—whether they have faith in God or not. It’s hard to understand sometimes.

But Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) puts it this way: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LordAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

We had no idea how this would turn out, yet we lived in the midst of a peace that goes way beyond our mere mortal comprehension. When you know God in a personal way, He does that sort of thing for you.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re in the midst of cancer, grief, marital strife, emotional turmoil, physical pain, failure, job loss, financial stress, or loneliness. He’s within a prayer’s reach–and it doesn’t have to be a fancy prayer either. Just open your heart to him; you’ll see.

We are so very thankful for our family and friends–for your prayers, moral support, kind words, warm hearts, open arms, and for taking the time to listen.

remission-accomplishedDavid still has a couple more months of a semi-quarantined lifestyle. He’ll start the re-immunization process after the first of the year. Until we see you again, we’ll continue to celebrate a remission accomplished!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

 


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Lego My Ego

letto-egoI have a list of a thousand things–all good things–I want to do before I die. Sometimes I think I have to cram them all into one month.

When my activities start to overlap, things get pushed around: my priorities out of order, my finances out of line, my emotions out of control, and my back, well, just out.

I have a ready list of excuses too.

  • If I don’t do this, no one else will.
  • They’re counting on me.
  • It’s all part of marketing my book.
  • But I want to.
  • I’m not getting any younger. [Tell me, is anyone?]

Recently, when my serenity was crowded out by busyness, I had a hard time hearing God’s voice. And I needed to. [Duh.] So I prayed for the Lord to speak loud enough for me to hear over the din of my daily activities. He gave me this personalized paraphrase of 1 Kings 19:11-14 instead.

Go stand over there and be quiet. Don’t check your email or Facebook and stay away from Pinterest. Wait for God to speak.

A reader posted a 5-star Amazon review and bolstered my hopes before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the Amazon review; after the review, a great idea for another writers’ event, but God wasn’t in the event; and after the great idea, positive comments on a blog, but God wasn’t in the comments or the blog; and after the positive comments, a gentle and quiet whisper.

When Clarice heard the quiet voice, she muffled her face with her great lap blanket, went to the mouth of her writing cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Clarice, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Clarice said it again, “I’ve been writing my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of God have turned toward the secular market, destroyed your places of Christian publication, and murdered the written word. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”

egoOh, the ego of it all! When I feel like I’m not able to give up some of my activities, writing or otherwise, because there is no one who can possibly replace me, that’s when I know I’m in trouble. OVERBLOWN EGO TROUBLE.

To make it right, I need to let go of my ego and refresh my soul.  So now I’m waiting– really waiting– to hear the Lord’s gentle whisper.

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-12 (MSG)


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Beauty Tips for Ladies of an Uncertain Age Only

And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it. ~ 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (MSG)

The advantage of being my age is that I’ve mastered a few beauty tips over the years which I am transparent enough to pass on to my readers.

dirty-eueglassesFirst, clean your eyeglasses!

You know that blouse you’ve been wearing three days in a row—it’s covered with drips and dribbles. Oh, yes, it is. No one will tell you because they’re just relieved it’s not them.

I once worked with a woman who kept pushing her eyeglasses up her nose while she ate her tuna fish sandwich. By the end of lunch, her glasses were smeared with mayonnaise. Please! This is not a good look for you–first, because you won’t be able to see. And, second, it’s hard for people to take you seriously when you have tuna hanging off an eyeglass hinge. 

Clean your eyeglasses before you attempt to pluck those thick spikes which crop up in your eyebrows. If you don’t, you’ll end up with bald spots. It’s not easy to do a comb-over on an eyebrow.

If you don’t like the look of little pieces of bloody toilet paper on your face, wear your clean eyeglasses when plucking those half-inch chin hairs that pop out overnight. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

Along this line, wax or at least trim your mustache. (Yes, I know why women get them–but I don’t get why they keep them.)cutting-hair

Rethink cutting your own hair–especially at 3:00 a.m. If you do cut your hair in the wee hours of the morning, do not follow that act with plucking. You won’t like the results, believe me.

Read the directions on how to use a curling iron. Click here to see what could happen.

hairplugsThere’s always a period of time before your roots start to show and your next hair appointment. A temporary solution is to use eye shadow on your roots. (I’d stay away from blue or green.) Again shadow, not mascara. I got the wand caught in my hair. And not eyebrow pencil. Those little pencil marks made me look like I had hair plugs.

Don’t try waxing your armpits. No matter what QVC says about their product, trust me on this one. First, it’s tiring holding your arms up waiting for the wax to dry. Second, your armpit skin is stretchy—and pulling the wax only stretches it further. Do you want saggy armpits? I mean, it might work if you have someone holding your skin while you tug on the wax. But how many people do you know who would hold your armpit? [Never mind, I don’t want to know.]

dsc03767-35x5My final tip is to smile—all the time. No one will guess you still have wax in your armpits. And it’ll distract them from the spots on your blouse and the ticks on your hairline, too.

There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.  Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. ~ 1 Peter 3:2-4 (MSG)