Posted on May 9, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Despite all the products available to enhance a woman’s natural beauty, looking good still comes with a price. Over the years I’ve learned several valuable lessons in the beauty enrichment department—some firsthand and some by watching others’ faux pas. Some mistakes cause no more than a fit of giggles but others may make you want to hang out with your dog until it “grows out again.” (Thank goodness our dogs don’t care what we look like, huh?)
Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years:
- First perms can be quite an ordeal and if you’re considering one, please understand that it may not turn out exactly as you planned. Soft, gentle waves can quickly become “one happenin’ Afro” if your hair curls easily. Fortunately this was a popular style of the day, but it still made quite an interesting look on a short, fair-skinned blonde.
- In regards to the previous paragraph, the warning from hairdressers “don’t shampoo for 24 hours or the curl may not set” does not apply to all people.
- If attempting to highlight your hair with a DIY home kit, don’t wash the solution out too soon or you may get caught between stages in the coloring process. This can result in orange highlights. Of course, if this is the look you’re after, you’re good to go.
- When applying bright lipstick, don’t pucker up and swipe on a lot of color or too much will get on the inside of the lips. Pink teeth are not attractive.
- When drinking a red beverage at important social gatherings, remember to take small sips. No gulping even if you’re thirsty. Red mustaches are quite embarrassing on grown women.
- Scotch tape works well on fixing ripped hems on bridesmaid’s dresses, especially when it’s mere seconds until picture time. If this does happens, just smile and act like nothing has happened. No one will be the wiser—except for you.
- Several hair styling appliances have dual purposes. A curling iron works quite well for ironing wrinkled clothing, unless you’re doing a whole suit, but it’s still better than nothing in emergency situations. Also, if you ever find your front door frozen shut because the humidifier is turned up too high, a hair dryer and a screwdriver are essential tools for alleviating the problem. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)
We can learn much as we strive to achieve gorgeousness. Remember that for every problem you have, someone else has experienced it first. You are never alone in your quest for beauty.
HOW YOU CAN WIN A COPY OF “WEDDING ON THE ROCKS.”
Rose is generously offering not one but TWO copies of Wedding on the Rocks AND TWO copies of her previous release Rose of Sharon to readers who comment during the next two weeks and let us know about their most unusual job or a beauty secret and/or mishap. That’s four chances to win a book every time you post here at Inkspirational Messages in the next two weeks.
Contest closes Friday, May 17 at midnight (central time). It is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.
Posted on April 25, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Okay, class, time to put on your thinking caps and get out your number two pencils. We’re having a totally irrelevant pop quiz today.
Since we’re talking about sisters to commemorate the release of Lorna’s new book When Love Calls, I thought it would be fun to think back on some famous TV and movie sisters. Hopefully we’ve watched some of the same shows over the years so you will recognize some of these well-known fictitious sisters and their shows.
Now is everybody ready? Okay…GO!
1. What sister in this popular show from the 70’s said the following statement after an incident with a football? “Oh, my nose!”
2.This sitcom aired for over a decade starting in the mid 90’s and stars three guys and three girls in their late twenties who live in Manhattan. One girl is a clean freak with a dinosaur geek for a brother. What’s her name?
3. In this popular 80’s movie, what is the name of the sister who is annoyed that her brother fakes a serious illness (and gains the sympathies of not only their parents but the entire town) so he can play hooky with his girlfriend and best buddy?
4. What two teenage sisters—one a ditzy blonde and the other a moody middle child—both had a crush on a boy named Kyle? (Bonus points will be given if you can correctly identify the hometown of the actor who plays Kyle.)
5. What’s the name of the movie that stars a set of identical pre-teen twin girls, separated at birth, who reunite at summer camp and devise a plan to get their divorced parents back together?
6. What redneck sister swam in a cement pond in this 60’s show?
7. What three sisters lived at the Shady Rest Hotel and started each episode of this 60’s show by flinging their old fashioned undergarments over the side of the hotel water tower where they swam?
8. What famous aardvark sister frequently annoys her older brother in this popular animated kid’s show?
- Marcia from The Brady Bunch
- Monica from Friends
- Jeanie from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Bridget and Kerry from 8 Simples Rules. By the way, Kyle, played by Billy Aaron Brown, is from Clarinda, Iowa—just down the road a ways from my home. If you knew this one, you are truly in the upper crust of society. Welcome.
- The Parent Trap
- Elly May from The Beverly Hillbillies
- Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo from Petticoat Junction
- D.W. in Arthur
Okay, give yourself 1 point for each correct answer. (Give yourself 5 extra points if you knew Kyle’s hometown.) Check the listing below to see how well you know these memorable sisters.
If you scored a perfect 13, you have achieved the status of a true mastermind! You are truly brilliant. Keep up the good work!
If you scored 7-12, pat yourself on the back for being such a gifted brainiac in knowledge of TV and movie trivia.
A score of 4-6 means you probably read or played outside a lot as a child, or simply had a productive day without feeling the need for TV viewing. That’s okay. You show potential for change.
A score of 1-3 means you need to educate yourself on quality programming of days gone by. “Netflix” is a good place to start and will quickly get you on the right track.
If you didn’t get any right, don’t feel bad, it’s possible that expertise in the art of meaningless trivia just isn’t your thing. Or, maybe you’re simply not the right age to have seen most of these shows. In that case, have a sister, niece, friend, or maybe even your mother or grandma take this quiz for you.
Better luck next time.
Don’t forget to leave a comment on any blog post this week or next for a chance to win two copies of Lorna’s newest book “When Love Calls” for you AND your sister or girl friend. Contest closes at midnight, central time on Friday, May 3 and is open to those in the U.S. and Canada. Name chosen by Random.org.
Posted on April 11, 2013 - by Shari Barr
It’s that time of year—almost. At least I hope winter is almost over and spring will be rolling in sometime soon. I can’t wait to open up the windows in the sunroom and curl up in my favorite chair and watch the new baby calves romping in the pasture out back. Then I’ll put my feet up and settle in with a good book. Aaah, that recliner is calling my name already.
I’ll have to wait awhile though, until June 26 to be exact, until I get to hold the following book in my hands. Colleen Coble is one of my favorite Christian authors and I’m sure her upcoming release, Rosemary Cottage, book #2 in The Hope Beach Series, won’t disappoint.
The cover is truly gorgeous and inviting. Her publisher, Thomas Nelson, provides the following intriguing description which makes me want to put this book on the top of my “to be read” pile. I think you’ll agree.
Rosemary Cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina has been in Amy Lang’s family for generations and offers her a haven within its peaceful walls. There she hopes to discover what really happened to her brother, Ben, even as she tries to come to grips with his death in the ocean months before.
She hopes the Coast Guard team will help her find closure, but they are quick to dismiss her concerns of foul play. Everyone in Hope Beach regards the suspicious e-mail she received as a vicious prank. When it seems discovering what happened to Ben will take longer than she expected, Amy moves her midwifery practice to Hope Beach.
Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland may hold the key to many of her questions, but he also hides a secret that will change her world forever. And her own secrets could tear apart the fragile love developing between them. Will Amy have the courage to put down her mask and let Curtis love her for who she is? And can they both weather the danger that threatens to destroy the most precious thing in their lives?
***Don’t forget, every time you leave a comment during the next two weeks, you’ll be entered for a chance to win Lorna Seilstad’s May release of When Love Calls and a $10 Starbucks gift card.
Posted on March 28, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Animals make the world go round. Without pets life would be so–bor-r-r-ing. Just watching them makes me chuckle, even if they’re not doing anything. Our dog can crack me up just by his dumb sleeping positions. Or maybe it doesn’t take much to amuse me. Who knows. Pets never fail to put me in a better mood, though.
The following is my all time favorite dog video. If our dog could talk, this is what he would say, and no matter how many times I watch it, it’s still funny. Click here.
Don’t you feel better already?
Posted on March 14, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Ever had one of those days when you desperately need to write but you feel like someone flipped off the switch to your brain? I mean there’s absolutely nothing going on upstairs at all.
You have? Good, me too—more times than I care to admit.
In the past when I was writing on assignment and saw a deadline looming (and a paycheck dangling at the finish line,) sometimes all I needed was a quick walk outside and I was good to go again. But when I’m writing for submission, writer’s block can feel like a VCR button stuck eternally on pause.
I don’t have a magic cure for writer’s block, but I do have some suggestions that often help me get my juices flowing again.
1) Get moving. Sometimes all I need is a change of scenery for a few minutes, whether it’s going to the mailbox or petting the dog. Getting out of my chair gets my blood flowing to my brain. Plotting while I mow the yard is one of my favorite ways to break out of writer’s block. The fresh air and sunshine do wonders in blowing the cobwebs out of my mind. (Shoveling snow can have the same effect, though I don’t enjoy it nearly as much.)
2) Read. Reading a novel almost always gives me fresh ideas for a stuck plot. Often times a simple phrase written by another author helps me put a whole new spin on a scene of mine that’s going nowhere.
3) Get inspired. Watching an inspirational show, such as Joyce Meyer’s ministry, helps clear my head. Hearing a sermon, even though not writing related, gets me back in the right frame of mind, focusing on the important things in life. When I concentrate on my walk with Christ, everything else seems to fall into place.
Inspirational non-fiction books, especially those about Christians doing amazing things because of their faith, remind me that my writing is a ministry and I should treat it as such. One of my favorites is “Prisoners of Hope: The Story of Our Captivity and Freedom in Afghanistan” by Dayna Curry, Heather Mercer, and Stacy Mattingly, which tells the story of two young women arrested for teaching Christianity and held prisoner by the Taliban. Talk about persistence and dedication—these girls have it. Traits I definitely could use as a writer.
4) Set goals. Most successful writers set goals and deadlines for themselves. If you have trouble keeping your own goals, ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable. It makes a difference if I have someone to answer to. Motivation is a great way to help me break out of writer’s block.
5) Pray. Though this is last on my list, it is the most important and should be the first thing to do when stuck on a WIP. God doesn’t want us to suffer through writer’s block. He gave us our gift of writing, so without a doubt, He wants us to minister to others through our words. If we ask for help, He will give it to us, though it will be in His time frame, not ours.
Writing isn’t easy, but we don’t have to go it alone. Writer’s groups and the One above will always have our backs.
Posted on February 28, 2013 - by Shari Barr
A little over a year ago my husband surprised me with roundtrip airline tickets to Maui. On arrival in our tropical paradise, we perused the scads of flyers in the resort lobby trying to decide which activities and excursions we wanted to try. After much discussion, we decided on several, one of which included a boat trip to a nearby island, Molokini, to snorkel along the coral reef.
This may sound wonderful, but there was a problem. I don’t like water. Or more accurately—deep water terrifies me because I never learned to swim. I must have been determined that day because I convinced my husband I could do it. After all, I had snorkeled once, years ago, but in much shallower water.
The day of our excursion arrived and our boat, crammed with tourists, left the dock. The captain began explaining the details of our trip, casually mentioning that snorkelers should rent wet suits for their buoyancy because there were no life jackets on board. Gulp. You say what? No life jackets? Surely I didn’t hear him right. Unfortunately I did, though.
While he instructed the divers on proper snorkeling procedures, I began to worry if I could handle this. Everyone else seemed so sure of themselves, eager to get in the water and begin the dive. Me? Backing out was looking better and better all the time.
After he finished his demonstration, I pulled the captain aside and asked him if he was sure the wet suit would hold me up since I didn’t know how to swim. Apparently, not many non-swimmers go snorkeling, because he looked at me like I was nuts. He assured it would keep me afloat but glanced at my husband and asked, “Are you going to stay with her?”
“Yep,” my husband nodded.
After anchoring alongside Molokini, I let everyone else get off before me, delaying the inevitable as long as possible. Finally my turn was up. I climbed down the ladder at the back of the boat and sat on the bottom rung as I slipped my feet into the fins. I put on my goggles, took the paddle board the tour diver handed me (for baby snorkelers like me) and prayed like crazy. “Oh dear God, help me. Please.”
I glanced nervously at my husband waiting patiently for me in the water. I clutched the paddle board in both hands, pushing one end toward him, begging him not to let go. He promised, grabbed it with one hand, and then I slipped off the rung into the chilly waters of the ocean. He tugged me away from the boat, and suddenly an overwhelming fear enveloped me. “I don’t like this,” I cried out.
Mike calmly assured me I’d be fine and suggested I put on my snorkel and put my face in the water. All I could think about was the deep, deep water surrounding me. Putting my face in the water was something I didn’t want to consider right now. But I did, praying all the while, asking God to help me. I breathed through the snorkel like the instructor had taught us. A peace washed over me, and I felt my fears floating away. My husband continued to tug me via the paddle board round and round. The sights beneath me in the crystal clear sea were simply breathtaking. Swimming among the sea turtles and tropical fish was one of the highlights of the trip—something I’ll never forget.
I couldn’t have done it if my husband hadn’t been at my side, but a greater power took away my fear. God knew my weaknesses and helped me through a time when I needed it most.
Now, if someone asked if I’d snorkel again, I’d answer “yes” without hesitation. I can do anything through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
Posted on February 14, 2013 - by Shari Barr
I know, I know, we’re supposed to write about a fictitious hero, but since I haven’t read a lot of fiction lately, I’m writing about my favorite hero…period. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I felt inspired to write it as a poem. Yes, a poem, but I warn you–I really don’t do poetry. So here goes:
Loves me though I’m not deserving,
Walks beside me day by day.
He feels my every sorrow
And shares in all my pain.
He wipes away my tears of woe
And sheds some of His own.
He wraps His arms around me
To shield me from my fears.
He whispers words of comfort
To cheer me when I’m down.
He blesses me with all my needs
Though not my every want.
He teaches me to grow,
To be humble in my ways.
He gives me many joys,
More than I dare to ask.
He knows just what my heart needs
To give me hope again.
He asked me to come follow Him
To walk life’s rocky path.
How could I not say “Yes”
When He said these words to me,
“Take my hand, don’t let go.
I promise I won’t let you fall.”
Though troubles came at every turn,
I forgot that He was there.
I let Him go
Not looking back.
When enemies taunted
And threw barbs at my soul,
I stumbled and fell, scared and alone,
Weeping for all I thought I had lost.
I looked for my Hero,
And cried out to Him.
“Lord, my body is bruised,
And my heart is scarred.
I don’t understand
Why I’m hurting so much.”
I felt a warm presence
And looked up to see
My Hero beside me,
A red bud in his hand.
“Take this, my child, for a job well done.
You’ve turned out quite well, just as I planned.”
Confused, I said nothing,
But accepted the gift.
“This bud,” He continued, “is just like you.
To become a rose of great beauty,
You must get past the thorns.
Posted on January 31, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Adding details to your setting is a great way to bring your story to life. Too much detail can slow a story down, but short, well-placed descriptions scattered throughout the story can make a manuscript sparkle.
One way to enhance your setting is through your character’s movements. Instead of describing the manicured lawn of the richest man in town, let your character feel the cool, soft grass beneath her bare feet. Or, maybe she touches the velvety smoothness of a rose in a magnificent floral display.
Another way to spruce up the setting is by using active verbs. Kara squinted as the blinding sun glistened off the water of Mr. Scribner’s mammoth sized pool. Or, Kara groaned, her gaze darting to Mrs. Scribner poised like a seargent at the edge of the patio, as the exquisite rose bud fell off beneath her touch. The latter sentence enhances the setting by showing Kara’s embarrassment and Mrs. Scribner’s arrogance.
Reflecting the tone of your scene will add a little punch to the setting. Let’s say your character has just inherited a run-down cabin from a long lost relative. Instead of describing the condition of the cabin, show your character’s feelings about the inheritance. Her thoughts could be “Thanks a lot, Uncle Ted. Why didn’t you leave me a bulldozer and a match instead?” Or, depending on your character’s mood, she might think, “I could rip off that caved-in porch and add on the cutest little sun room. I can fix this thing up and get it on the market in no time.” Your character’s response depends on the tone you wish to evoke.
When describing setting through the use of the five senses, show it through the character’s personal experience. For example, a farm girl may not notice the smell of the hog lot because she lives with it every day. However, her city girl cousin might say, “Phew, what stinks?” Or, maybe your character tries an exotic food but has no idea what the weird tasting stuff is. Her cocky companion could ridicule and embarrass her over the incident.
Memories can also be triggered by one of the senses. If your character is remembering an incident with her now deceased grandfather, you could set the scene by having her catch a whiff of Grandpa’s favorite after-shave while walking through a department store.
Use of sensory details can bring a story to life. While editing your WIP, take notice of places that may be lacking and try sprinkling a few tidbits here and there to spice up the setting. These are a few of my favorite ways. What are some of your’s?
Posted on January 17, 2013 - by Shari Barr
When my husband and I decided to build a new house years ago, we had different opinions on which features it should possess. We agreed on one thing for sure, though. We wanted it built on the current site of our more-than-a-century old farmhouse.
During the following months, I watched from our living room windows as our new home took shape in the front yard. As the last of the contractors finished their jobs, we knew the time was near to make the most important decision yet—the fate of our dear old house.
We toyed with the idea of tearing it down, but it seemed almost cruel to demolish a home that had seen more reconstruction than a plastic surgeon. From indoor plumbing, to a room addition here, and a porch there, the old house had seen it all. When my husband and I first began dating, I couldn’t imagine why a single man needed such a huge bachelor pad. Four years later, after a wedding and two babies, I wondered how the house could have shrunk in such little time. Our loyal, trusted friend had seen a lot of memories over the years and tearing it down just didn’t seem right.
It didn’t take us long to decide the house still had plenty of life left to live, so we began looking for takers to move the house from our property. After we had settled into our new home, the new owners of the old house showed up with house movers to prepare it for moving. As the movers jacked the structure off its foundation, I prayed that it wouldn’t crumble like a Lego house. I didn’t give the early builders enough credit. The house didn’t flinch as the semi truck tugged it onto a flatbed truck.
When moving day arrived, my husband and I stood in our front yard as though posing for a Grant Wood painting (minus the pitchfork.) The truck snorted like a fire-breathing dragon as it crawled across the muddy yard with the old white farmhouse riding piggyback. It bellowed some more when it got stuck and my husband had to pull the truck and house out with the tractor. I sighed with relief when the truck finally turned onto the gravel road. A brisk April breezed billowed the beige curtains still hanging from the porch windows.
Like parents protecting their young, we hustled the kids into the car and followed our kitchen windows for several agonizingly slow miles. I held my breath as the truck rounded the corner onto the highway. Knowing the movers would take several hours to transplant our precious cargo 15 miles to the tiny town of Hawleyville, we returned home.
Several days later, we decided the time was right to visit our former abode. As we drove through the countryside, I envisioned the old house on its final trek, wondering how it had fared the rolling hills and meandering curves. I relaxed when we drove into Hawleyville and saw our old home standing with dignity on its new foundation, its white siding unscarred.
At first the old farmhouse looked strange on that corner lot, and for a moment I longed to step inside one last time. Then I noticed the new curtains in the kitchen windows, the glow of living room lights, and unfamiliar cars parked out front. The house was faithfully serving its new family, just as it had done for generations.
Now, eighteen years later, when I sit in the sunroom of our current home, I remember our old house sitting where our clothesline now hangs. If a mood of nostalgia ever hits, I know I don’t have far to go to reminisce. A quick jaunt down the road to Hawleyville ought to do the trick just fine.
Posted on January 3, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Christmas is a time of giving. It’s easy to remember to give to the less fortunate when we see Salvation Army bell ringers at every store, church outreach missions soliciting donations, community service projects in action, and other worthwhile charities requesting our contributions.
Though charities depend on the generosity of people in order to collect dollars for their individual causes, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we took things a bit further.
The definition of charity according to the Random House Dictionary is “generosity towards the poor.” I believe this goes beyond monetary gifts.
I’ll admit that there have been times in my life when I have felt uncomfortable when I’m “out of my league” in social situations. I would bet that the poor often feel the same way. As I thought about this, I came up with a few ideas that would force me to give a little of myself to someone less fortunate, as well as material gifts to my favorite charities. Here are a few ideas I came up with:
- When possible I should offer my assistance to someone in need, such as babysitting occasionally or driving someone to the doctor.
- When I can afford it, I should consider hiring someone looking for work to do odd jobs for me, such as cleaning or yard work. Not only would it help them financially, it would help me keep my own life in perspective as I get to know them.
- The elderly are often on fixed incomes. Gifts of a warm meal and a visit to their homes could make someone’s day. Many elderly persons live alone and find it hard to cook for one. I can think of several older friends, many who are still active, but would enjoy a home-cooked meal delivered to their door.
- Many senior citizens don’t have the means to get out much. The next time I take a drive to my old stomping grounds I should ask one of my older friends who lived in the same area to ride along and reminisce.
- Most importantly, as a Christian I should give the underprivileged the gift of friendship, just as I would want to be treated if the situation were reversed. A simple “hi” or an invitation to my house could mean the world to someone down on their luck.
Now comes the hard part—actually living out my own suggestions. Here’s where I need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to give me that nudge to remind me to treat others like Christ treats us. Especially the poor and down-trodden.