Living or Living Vicariously?

I admit it. I got caught up in watching the TV show, Dancing with the Stars this season. What is it that makes the show so enticing for millions of viewers? Is it the professional dancers? The stars? Or the beautifully beaded and flowing costumes?

I believe the main reason for people tuning in each week has more to do with living vicariously through the dancers. Because if they can do it—maybe we can.

It would be wonderful to wear those gorgeous costumes—and fit into them! It would be a dream to take intricate steps at speed, or glide gracefully across the floor, caught up in the music and romance.

Maybe living vicariously through others is why other reality programs are so popular.

I’ve never watched The Amazing Race, a show in which teams of two people race around the world in competition with other teams. Contestants travel to and within multiple countries by plane, balloon, helicopter, truck, bicycle, taxicab, rental car, train, bus, boat, and by foot. They have opportunities to win prizes along the way, and the first pair across the finish line wins a grand prize.

Another show I don’t view is The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. There must be people who are fascinated by these women, and wonder what it would be like to live with wealth.

I don’t see anything wrong with watching reality TV if it entertains or enlightens, as long as we don’t become so obsessed with watching it that we stop living ourselves.

What would happen if we only lived vicariously and stopped caring about trying new things, or setting out on our own adventures?

I’ve always been interested in martial arts. So some years ago, I signed up for adult classes. Not considered an athletic person, I wondered if I’d actually handle the regimen. I trained hard for three years, but eventually had to stop when life situations stepped in. But during that time I discovered that I could become physically strong and learn those skills. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life.

What if I’d only sat on the couch and watched martial arts movies and exhibitions on TV? What if I never risked trying it?

I recently checked into adult martial classes in my area. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I did the next best thing. I joined my husband’s gym so I could take cardio kick-boxing classes, which use many of the same skills.

Is there something you’d like to try? Why are you hesitating? If your reasons aren’t physical or financial—go for it!

I don’t want to just live vicariously through other people—I want to live!


Thankful Beyond Thanksgiving

Soon the house will be filled with the tantalizing smell of turkey roasting in the oven. Freshly baked apple and pumpkin pies will sit on my counter, tempting anyone passing by. Scented spice candles will burn, and a fire will roar in the fireplace, making the family room even cozier. Family will gather in our home to share Thanksgiving dinner.

Despite all the work that goes into making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve heard some people comment that it’s their favorite holiday. Why? Time is spent being thankful for what we have, as opposed to Christmas, when people often focus more on things they’d like to have.

I think it’s great that we set a day aside to think about our blessings. But why is it that we need a specific holiday to celebrate them?

What would happen if we listed everything we’re grateful for first thing in the morning—before getting out of bed? The downside is that we’d probably need to set our alarm for a much earlier time. The upside—we’d probably be happier and more content every day of the year.

I’ve known wealthy people who were miserable. And I’ve known poor people filled with thankfulness and joy. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV).

God has provided me with abundant blessings. I don’t want to go a day without recognizing and being thankful for all that he’s done for me.

I want to be thankful beyond Thanksgiving.


Blog Tour - Christmas at Harrington’s by Melody Carlson

Christmas at Harrington’s begins with Lena Markham’s release from an eight-year confinement in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. With nothing but the clothes on her back, a small amount of cash, and a bus ticket, she sets out to start fresh in a new town.

Lena meets an elderly woman on the bus, traveling home to the same destination. The woman befriends Lena and insists on helping her. She provides Lena with secondhand clothes for her promised new job, including a red coat with white trim.

Harrington’s Department Store is struggling financially, and when Lena arrives expecting to work, she’s told there are no jobs available. But the store is in desperate need for someone to fill Santa’s shoes during the Christmas shopping season. The owner's daughter thinks the lady in the red coat looks likes Mrs. Santa Claus and convinces her mother to hire Lena.

Lena begins to experience hope for a new life. She makes a few friends, including a young mother and child in the boarding house where she lives. She’s popular as Mrs. Santa Claus, and loves the job.

But fear lingers. What would people do, think, and say if they knew about her past?

Everyone makes mistakes, and Christmas at Harrington’s speaks about forgiveness and second chances. Everyone has a choice when wronged. We can respond with cruelty, or we can respond with kindness. We can allow people to take unfair advantage of us, or we can stand up for what’s right. The author inspires us to be better people, and challenges us to look out for those who may need a helping hand.

Christmas at Harrington’s is a charming story. I recommend this hardcover book for your holiday enjoyment. At 167 pages, it’s a quick read. Perfect for curling up on a Sunday afternoon and getting in the Christmas spirit.

Available November 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at

DISCLOSURE: I was graciously provided a copy of Christmas at Harrington’s by Revell Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

I Missed My High School Class Reunion

Last month, I missed my thirty-fifth year high school class reunion.

I had good reasons. You see, I live in the Seattle area, and the reunion was held in my Wisconsin home town. I’d already flown from the west coast to the Midwest for two family weddings—one in August and another in September. A third trip soon after wasn’t feasible.

I also didn’t attend our twenty-fifth year class reunion because of a similar situation. I needed to be home the weekend prior for an event. After not seeing the majority of my classmates in over twenty years, I wondered what it would be like to be in the same room together again. After all this time, what would we have in common?

Hearing about the reunion has caused me to think a lot these past weeks about my classmates. Most of us were in school together from kindergarten through graduation.

Attending a small high school meant more opportunities for everyone to be involved in extra-curricular activities. I was a cheerleader for four years, but I remember few cheers. What I do remember? The cool air, the bright lights, the ref’s whistle, the band marching on the football field, and parents yelling encouragement to the players. I remember the sound of basketballs bouncing on the court, players' shoes squealing on the floor, and the scoreboard buzzer going off.

I remember sitting in Mrs. Peter's English class discussing The Scarlet Letter and The Last of the Mohicans. Decorating the gym for prom and homecoming dances. Lockers slamming in-between classes, standing in line for lunch, and attempting to keep my short skirt from slipping up too high.

I remember giving the graduation speech, but I don’t recall what I said. I’m sure it wasn’t memorable for anyone else, either. It was a time when I was anxious to “get out” and “get on” with my life.

Thirty-five years ago, when I accepted my diploma, I had no clue what lay before me.

Coming from a Caucasian, conservative, rural town . . .

I never imagined that I would experience divorce, remarry, and then grieve over losing a stepdaughter.

I never dreamed one day my dentist would be Chinese, my doctor—Japanese, and my manicurist—Vietnamese.

I didn’t know my circle of friends would include Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics—as well as gays and lesbians.

If I had known then what I know now, there is one thing I would have changed. I would have spent less time worrying about getting straight As, and the guy I had a crush on at any particular moment. I would have tried harder to know the people I spent so much time with in class day after day, year after year.

I heard the reunion was a blast. I wish I had been there. It would have been great to hear about their lives these past thirty-five years.

How many college degrees people have acquired, or how much their 401K has earned isn’t important to me. I’d want to know more about them. Their dreams. Their regrets. Their struggles. Their children and grandchildren. And what gives them joy.

Some of our classmates have chosen to stay close to the home town, and others have scattered. Sadly, we've lost some along the way. But the classmates of ’75 will always have something in common. Our lives affected each other and who we are today, whether we realize it or not.

Everyone has a life story.
I’m glad the class of '75 was a part of mine.


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