Judging People by Their Appearance

Are you tempted to treat people differently because of how they look?

Do you think most people are?

I’ve watched TV documentaries and talk shows where discussions focused on people being treated differently because of weight or ethnic background. To have my daughter actually experience a change in how people perceive her because of appearance has made the behavior a reality in my own backyard.

Ana gave me permission to share her story . . .

“Of course I’ve been blonde my entire life, so when I made the decision to change my hair color to brunette, I had absolutely no idea that the way I would be treated by people (especially men) would more different than I could ever anticipate.

As a blonde growing up, I was always known as the bright-eyed, energetic "cheerleader" by my friends. Men would always do the once over and give me the look . . . you know that look . . . like they want to eat you for dinner. Haha . . . But I never really realized it, because it was just what I was used to. When we went out to socialize, I was used to having guys approach my friends and me . . . but it always seemed that they didn't want to have an actual conversation . . . they just wanted to have the attention and see if they could go away with one of our numbers. Our personalities didn't really matter. It was definitely the "I-want-to-take-you-home approach" . . . and by that, I don't mean the take-you-home-to-mom kind of way.

After I finished college and started my career, I quickly realized that being a young and pretty woman could be used to my advantage. But at times it was also a disadvantage. With my blonde hair, I was never taken seriously. As an event planner, I was able to communicate to people in a way that would help them understand why things could or couldn’t be done. People would often say, "Wow . . . you really do know what you’re taking about!" I’d share my education background and they’d seem surprised.

When I went brunette, I noticed a dramatic change in the way that I was treated. My clients would listen to what I was saying and would not question me in the least. They seemed to have more confidence in me and believed that I would take care of them throughout their entire planning process.

While I’m still often approached, I see a huge difference in the way guys look at me and respond to what I am saying. They seem to take me more seriously and they show a lot more respect.

I don't look completely different . . . I mean, after all . . . it’s just my hair color. A guy I formerly dated even approached me at the gym and told me that I looked much more sophisticated with my hair dark.

It’s been fun to see people's reactions as well. A lot of guys have complimented the change . . . all the more reason for me to believe the men like the blondes for "dating" but take brunettes more seriously when it comes to relationships, as well as careers.”

I found Ana’s experience fascinating, especially during a time when I’m writing a novel about two people who are struggling with how the world perceives them.

I’m so thankful that God doesn’t look at our outward appearance.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7


It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton

I’m thrilled to have Michelle Sutton as a guest on my blog this week. Her debut novel, It’s Not About Me, has been awarded 4 stars by Romantic Times!

Michelle is one of the first friends I made in the writing/publishing world. We met almost five years ago through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and worked as critique partners for several years. I've learned a great deal from her.

Michelle is a prolific writer with a passion for telling real stories that don’t minimize the hard stuff in life. Her characters are real people who struggle with sexuality, abuse, addiction, and self-worth - you name it, she’s not afraid to write about it. Her background as a social worker gives her much to draw upon. No wonder she’s known as the “Edgy Inspirational Author.” Through story, Michelle shares how new life can come from a relationship with Christ.

I have a few questions for her, but first let me tell you about the young adult (YA) novel, It’s Not About Me.

Annie has it all. She’s attractive, graduated with honors, was accepted at the college of her choice, has supportive parents, good friends, and a steady boyfriend who loves her. The focus of her life is to please everyone and not make any waves. Her reputation means everything to her.

But one night Annie’s safe world is shattered. As she fights to put the pieces of her broken life back together, against her will she is caught in a war between two brothers, both of whom claim to have her best interests at heart.

Who will Annie choose? And will she finally come to know the One whose love will never fail, even in her darkest hour? Will she learn the truth about life – that it’s not about “me”?

It’s Not About Me is not a fluffy novel. In this touching story, the characters learn to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Readers will embrace Annie, Tony, and Dan with open arms as they join them on a journey of twists and turns.

Questions for Michelle . . .

You tackle some difficult topics in this book. What's the most important thing you want readers to take away?

What real faith and real love is. So many people accept far less and it's a shame, but they don't know that there is anything better than what they know. I pray they see that there is through my story.

There’s been a lot of buzz about It’s Not About Me. You’ve received wonderful reviews and endorsements. Have you received any feedback from general readers?

Lots of feedback from people I don't know and so far it has all been very positive. And encouraging. I guess people want to read about real issues in fiction.

You’re known as the Edgy Inspirational Author. How do you define edgy and why is it important to you to write edgy fiction?

For me it means telling it like it is. No sugar coating, but honest, gut-wrenching true-to-live pain and issues. I think with great tragedy comes great faith and I hope to show that in a realistic manner. My goal is to present temptation and consequences as they really are so that people can learn vicariously through the fictional character and hopefully avoid doing those same things.

You’re a wife, mother, social worker, book reviewer, and editor for an online magazine. How do you find time to write?

That is a FAQ (frequently asked question) and the truth is that I do it when I can. I don't watch television and just plan/structure my time to make the most of every minute.

Thanks, Michelle!

Michelle works hard at her writing, but she also supports and promotes other writers. She’s developed a great reputation as a book reviewer within the industry. You can read her reviews at www. edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com . She’s created a network for readers and writers of Christian fiction found at http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/ . More recently, she became an editor and helped to launch the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine found at http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/ .

She lives in Arizona with her husband of more than eighteen years and her two teenage sons. You can read more about Michelle at http://www.michellesutton.net/

Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Regardless of whether you normally seek out historical romance or not, I recommend you read, Where the Heart Leads, by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

Where the Heart Leads is an engaging story about Thomas Ollenberger, a young man torn between his Mennonite roots on the Kansas prairie and his love for the big city of Boston. Thomas also struggles with his feelings for two women. Two women who are so different, the only thing they have in common is their love for him.

Even though this novel is set in 1904, it still resonates with what people experience today. We all must decide on a daily basis what path we choose. Do we let ourselves be drawn to what looks like the ultimate path to happiness? Or do we seek God for His direction and His timing?

And sometimes, when we think we have it all figured out . . . God surprises us.

I have to admit—this book was not satisfying for me—but only because I was not ready to see the story end! I wanted to continue the journey I’d begun with the characters. Where the Heart Leads is the sequel to Kim’s novel, Waiting for Summer’s Return, another favorite of mine. Both also work well as stand-alone novels. You don’t HAVE to read one to enjoy the other, but I encourage you to read both.

I met Kim four years ago at my first American Christian Writer’s Conference. I would describe her as lovely, gentle, and humble. It’s been fun for me to see her career take off and grow. After reading this novel, I had a few questions for her.

What draws you to writing stories about Mennonites?

Since I have a Mennonite background (I was raised Mennonite Brethren), I feel as though I'm writing about my own family history when I pen stories including the Mennonites. That makes it personal. I am proud of my Mennonite heritage--they are faithful people who endured persecution for staying true to their faith. It pleases me to honor that heritage through story.

What do you want readers to take away from reading this novel?

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for every life. When we seek Him and follow His plan, we find joy and contentment. Sometimes we stubborn humans run in directions of our own choosing, and while we might enjoy temporary pleasure in that venture, lasting fulfillment only comes when we are in the center of His will.

I became attached to the characters in this story – especially Belinda. Are there plans for any sequels?

As much as I would enjoy writing another story about these characters (wouldn't it be fun to see what Abby, Gussie, and Little Lena do with their lives?) I doubt there will be a third story. I am contracted to write stand-alones. Thomas's story was very different from the first one--and wasn't really dependent on the first one--so it worked. However, a third book would denote a "series," so that probably won't happen. But thanks for getting attached enough to the characters to want their story to continue!

Thanks, Kim, for answering my questions.

Kim’s Bio

Kim Vogel Sawyer is fond of C words like children, cats, and chocolate. She is the author of eleven novels. She’s active in her church, where she teaches adult Sunday School and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas and have three daughters and six grandchildren.

You can find out more about Kim and her novels by visiting her website at http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/

Laughter is a Gift

Laughter is a wonderful gift.

A small child’s giggle can put a smile on your face.

A deep, stomach-contracting laugh can make your sides ache and bring you to tears – yet make you feel so good, you forget the day’s troubles.

Laughter can contribute to your mental and physical health. It can bring you closer to those around you. And it can just plain make the world a brighter place.

I choose friends who have a sense of humor. They not only laugh with me, they also help me to laugh at myself. It’s good not to take ourselves or life too seriously.

Yep, God sure knew what He was doing when He shared laughter with us.

Have you ever wondered what it will be like to hear Him laugh?

Will it be a Santa Claus-like belly ho-ho kind of laugh?
Will it sound musical? Magical?

My guess is that it will sound warmly familiar—yet like nothing we’ve every heard before. And it will fill us with such joy, we won’t be able to help but join in.

This week—laugh.
As much as you can.
And don’t forget. God has a sense of humor, too.


To get started, read the funny bloopers that were either published in church bulletins or announced in church services. I can almost guarantee that they’ll put a smile on your face.

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church.
Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours".

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