New E-book Release – Free for Kindle Feb 22-26

ANNOUNCING New e-book release by comedic author, Janice Hanna Thompson: I Must Decrease: Biblical Inspiration and Encouragement for Dieters.

I haven't yet had a chance to read this book, but it sounded like fun, and the author is making it available in Kindle e-book version for free just for the next few days. Read on to find out how to get your copy! 

Janice, can you tell us a little about your non-fiction e-book book, I MUST DECREASE?
Sure! As a comedic author, I usually write light-hearted stories. I’m known as the funny girl. I get the giggles and chuckle my way through most situations. When it came to my weight, however, I had very little to laugh about. Most of my readers didn’t realize the health crisis I was facing as a result of the added pounds. I needed to get things under control, so I started counting calories and watching what I ate. Out of that came my non-fiction book, I MUST DECREASE (which released in paperback in 2005). The book is set up in a daily devotional format and it meant to bring humor (as well as dieting tips) to Christians who need/want to lose weight.
Why did you choose the title I MUST DECREASE?
The title came as a result of a prayer time at church. I’d gone up for prayer and the gentleman praying for me used the scripture (John 3:30) as he prayed for me: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” For whatever reason, it got me tickled. I’d never thought about that particular scripture having anything to do with dieting before, but it suddenly felt right.
Can you tell us about the layout of the book?
Each day’s devotion offers the following:
·      Ticklers: A humorous quote or “thought for the day” to tickle your funny bone.
·      Tidbits: A “Did You Know?” area offering tidbits of information from multiple sources.
·      Traps: Common misconceptions and/or food “traps” we often fall into
·      Tricks: “Tricks of the trade” to help you stick with your plan
·      Treats: Clever snack and food ideas for the healthy eater
·      Testimonies: Personal testimonies of others who’ve faced the weight loss challenge and won (including some prominent personalities)
·      Treasures: Daily scripture reference
·      Tips: Devotional for the day, based on the daily scripture above
·      Turning Your Focus: A variety of ways you can reach out to others
·      Today’s Food Choices: A reminder to write down your daily food choices
·      Thoughts on Paper: Encouragement to keep a daily journal entry
Why did you choose the humorous approach?
Being overweight is nothing to laugh at, but most people who want to lose weight are tired of the serious “Thou shalt not” approach. Many are ready for a lighthearted look at weight loss — a practical devotional approach that offers scriptural advice in a way that encourages and never condemns. I decided to share light-hearted ways that dieters could lose weight and still keep their humor intact. This way I could keep my funny bone intact while losing weight.
Who contributed to the book?
I MUST DECREASE contains tips and testimonies from several well-known (and much-loved) Christian authors, including Mary Connealy, Lena Nelson Dooley, Martha Rogers, Kristin Billerbeck, Laurie Alice Eakes, Carrie Turansky, Marcia Gruver, Deb Ulrich, Gina Bishop, Pam Hillman and Lynette Sowell. I adore these ladies and am so grateful for their input.
Who can benefit from this book?
I would say that anyone concerned with his or her weight (or the weight of a loved one) could benefit from reading. Whether you want to drop five pounds or 150 pounds, this is the book to help you achieve that goal. 

Can you tell us about the special feature?
This e-book version of my devotional contains a few of my favorite low-cal recipes. Bon Appetite!
What sort of feedback have you gotten from readers so far?
Here’s what one Amazon reader had to say: “This Book Works! I loved this book. As soon as I started reading I was not only motivated to lose weight, but inspired that I actually could this time. I lost 39 lbs and feel free from the bondage that food can put you in. This is a lite-hearted book with biblical principals as well as helpful hints to rid yourself of unwanted pounds without “Dieting” or “Dieing” to eat. The journal pages have been so instrumental to my progress, do not read the book without using the journal section daily!” May 26, 2011 (by megamomma)
Why did you decide to offer the book for free for the first five days?
I love the Kindle select program and thought it would be fun to jump-start the process by giving away the book from February 22 – 26. Readers can download the book for free by following this link to I MUST DECREASE.
Can you tell us about your I MUST DECREASE Facebook group?
I would love to! More than a year ago I started a private group on Facebook for a handful of ladies (like myself) who wanted to have the camaraderie of fellow Christian dieters. The group has since grown! Men and women are welcome to join us, but if you do, be prepared to share recipes, along with fun tips and tidbits from your personal journey. What happens in I MUST DECREASE stays in I MUST DECREASE! That’s why the group will always remain private. To apply to the group, follow this link to I MUST DECREASE.
What happens when the “freebie” days end?
The book will still be available for purchase on Amazon (and eventually on Barnes and Noble).
Any advice for the road?
Sure! Make sure you write down what you eat every day. This simple process forces you to look at the calories/carbs you’re consuming. It also makes you very aware of the slip-ups! I use a great site called, which I highly recommend!


Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. She has published nearly eighty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. She particularly enjoys writing light-hearted, comedic tales because she enjoys making readers laugh. In addition, she enjoys public speaking and mentoring young writers. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. Her tagline, “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!” sums up her take on life.

Connect with Janice!
Twitter: booksbyjanice
I Must Decrease Facebook page

"People Watch What You Do . . . "

“more than they listen to what you say.” At Marc and Angel Hack Life, they talk about how to live a more productive, purposeful, and meaningful life. Please take a moment to click through to, and read carefully, their post on Ways to Inspire Everyone Around You. I could not say it any better than they did. It's worth re-reading daily until the words sink into your soul. 

3 Favorite Books on Time Management

Like nearly every woman I know, I have more demands on my time than I have time to get them all done. I'm always on the lookout for tips on how to make the most of the time I have, and tools to help me be more efficient and productive, saving time for fun and family. For years I've collected books on time management and organization. I've gleaned ideas from each of them, but here are three of my favorites:

  • Getting Things Done: David Allen's book, subtitled “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” has become a classic. In Allen's own words, “The methods I present [in the book] are based on two key objectives: (1) capturing all the things that need to get done — now, later, someday, big, little, or in between — into a logical and trusted system outside of your head and off your mind; and (2) disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the ‘inputs' you let into your life so that you will always have a plan for ‘next actions' that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment.” Allen's theory, which I've found to be true for me, is that the combined weight of all the “little” things that we need to remember and do ultimately create a level of background stress that wears us out and keeps us from being as productive and at peace as we could be. Although planners and websites and apps abound that will help implement the GTD approach, you don't need any of them to benefit from reading this book. If you have found yourself forgetting appointments or letting days go by without accomplishing your goals, or even if you're getting things done but feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, I highly recommend this book. Learn more about the GTD system at
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Written by Stephen R. Covey, this book resulted in a whole line of planners and accessories, as well as a number of sequels and related books and other materals. Where GTD is a book of tactics and techniques for organizing the many demands on our time and attention, 7 Habits is more of a philosophy book in the sense of putting time management techniques in a context of habits and, really, perspectives about how life should be lived: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win/win, seek first to understand and then to be understood, synergies, and sharpen the saw. When the demands of your life overwhelm you, it's tempting to reach for the quick fix — another app, another device, another tool to help do the tasks in front of you. But that's the best time to take a step back, reconsider the concepts discussed in Covey's book, and use them as guiding principles as you decide how to spend your time and energy. Covey is on the web at
  • Time Management from the Inside Out (and its companion volume, Organizing from the Inside Out): Both by Julie Morgenstern, these books help the reader look within to evaluate personal preferences and style and then using that understanding to implement the many tips and techniques Morgenstern offers to get control over the tasks and stuff that clutter our lives. Lots of worksheets to help you think through the process, and examples of how to to set things up to work for you. Find Julie on the web at

I have many more books in my personal library on the subjects of time management and organization, but I'm always on the lookout for great ideas. If there's a book that you recommend, please tell me about it in a comment below. If there's a particular element of time management or organization that's giving you trouble, leave a comment about that, too, and I'll respond.

Why I Don’t Go to Church

Please forgive the length of this post. It's much longer than I think a blog post ought to be, but it took this many words — and probably more — to express my heart on this issue. I hope you'll take the time to read it anyway.

Image 1108052
I was raised going to Sunday School. My parents didn’t attend church, but they would send us to Sunday School at the Baptist church nearest to wherever we lived, and usually they would come to the Sunday School Christmas program if we were taking part. I accepted Christ “officially” at a youth group meeting when I was a sophomore in high school, and after that I was active in church. Mike and I met in a Christian singing group when we were in high school –I was one of the singers, while he played bass. From the earliest days of our relationship we dreamed of serving God together through music. We left college to move across the country and help start a church in Michigan. Mike traveled the world in a Christian singer's band. Together we served the various churches we attended by being part of the worship team and volunteering in various other ways. Eventually he went on staff as worship pastor, a job he loved with a passion. I was part of the worship team, and from time to time taught adult Sunday School classes. Our five children were raised in church – almost literally. For years we were in the building every time it was open (and many times when it wasn't). Our life, and our family, were built around serving God through serving his Church.
 With that background, I suppose it's a little odd that I've only been to church services maybe three times in the last five years or so. And each of those times I attended only to watch Mike play, except for the Christmas Eve service we decided to attend one Christmas at a church where we knew no one. After years – decades – of active participation in church life and leadership, one day I just stopped going. In response to a crisis of emotions and faith, I literally called my husband from the car one day and said, “I’m done. I won’t go back, ever again.” And that was it.
 Have I backslidden? Maybe. It depends on your definition. I’m not a criminal. I don't drink much (just the occasional beer or glass of wine). I don't swear (well, maybe very, very rarely). I still believe in God. I’m not doing anything any worse than the things I did when I still was attending church regularly.
But I cannot bear to go to church. Every time I think of going – either out of guilt for not going or because Mike and I get a little lonely after all those years of having a built-in circle of friends – I find my heart starting to pound and my palms sweating. I feel mortally afraid of trying to re-engage in the struggle to understand the Bible’s teachings and craft them into a workable way of life.
For years before the crisis that put an abrupt end to my churchgoing, I had struggled with . . . what? My faith? Not so much my faith in God, but perhaps my faith in church and in church people. And certainly my faith in my ability to live a Christian life.
I have struggled for years to live up to what I believe the Bible teaches a Christian should be. I have studied the Bible. I have prayed (although not as regularly or as passionately as I thought a good Christian should want to). I’ve invested hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars in books expounding on the Bible’s teachings about how to live life Christianly. I tried to understand what God expected of his disciples and I tried, really I did, to live up to those expectations. But I struggled continuously over the years with my inability to make my everyday life match up with even the things I said – and fully believed – when I was up on that Sunday morning platform, leading the faithful in worship. How could I love God so much and yet be so frustrated with his people? How could I love God if prayer put me to sleep? How could I love God and yet yell at my kids or argue with my husband? How could I love God and yet think such bad thoughts? I tried – Lord, you know I did – to let the Holy Spirit indwell me and make me into the person I should be, the person I truly, deeply wanted to be. But I knew, deep, deep in my soul, how badly I failed, time and again.
So finally, one day, I gave up. I just couldn’t bear another Sunday morning of feeling like a fraud when people thanked me for leading them “into God’s presence” during worship. I was worn out from the trying, discouraged beyond words by my repeated and continual failure to be the kind of person I believed God wanted me to be.
Image 1374033
Now, I know that we do not earn God’s favor by our works. I understand that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross paid 100% of the price for my sins. Believe me, I understand the doctrine. I’ve read those passages in the Bible over and over. But I also believe that a person who’s truly been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, sanctified by God’s presence, should change. The presence of God in a person should, over time, little by little, change that person and make her more like Christ. And I just never could figure out how to let that happen. I remained, after years of searching and seeking and serving and trying, the same unlovely, selfish, judgmental, sarcastic person I had always been. And it pained me to no end. I grew tired of feeling bad all the time. I could not, cannot, live with the disparity between who I should be and who I am.
So I quit trying. And I quit going to the place, and being around the people, that repeatedly stirred up those feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and sorrow in me.
 I started this blog post two years ago, and never finished because I still was struggling with how to articulate my reasons for not going to church. After two more years of thinking about it, here’s my best effort at the answer to my question: I don’t go to church because of the teaching and because of the people.
The teaching in every pulpit I’ve ever experienced is based on the doctrine of the church it stood in. Every church I’ve attended has a set of pet beliefs that are sacred to it. The Baptist churches focus on water baptism as the proof of faith, and many of them condemn speaking in tongues as a relic of the past. The Assembly of God churches tout speaking in tongues as virtually the sole evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling. Other churches have other critical doctrines. Churches spend so much time and energy on those doctrines and constructs of man, and they can’t agree on many of them.
But even getting past those manmade doctrinal differences, the real issue is that the teaching from the pulpit of what a “good” Christian should be simply wears me out. I can’t be those things. I can’t do it in my own strength, and I don’t know how to let God do it in me. So every time I listened to a sermon, I would walk away feeling bad for my failure to meet the standards.
Even more than the official teaching, though, I stay away from church because of the people. That sounds terrible, but let me clarify. There are many wonderful people in church. I still have dear friends who remain actively involved in their churches. But I cannot tolerate the way church people talk. There are too many who say things that – unintentionally, I know – just make me feel WORSE. They talk about the intimacy they feel with God when they pray. And I just don’t. Never did. They talk about the joy of the Lord that they feel. And I just don’t. They talk of surrendering their will and how happy they are to just submit to God. And I just don’t.
 Each of these people leads me to one inescapable conclusion: Either they really are experiencing all of these things that I’m incapable of experiencing, or they are lying. Either way, I just can’t take it.
 When we first moved back to Texas, Mike was asked to help out at a local church by periodically playing keyboards with the worship band. During that time, we were invited to be part of a small group of the worship musicians who would meet periodically for “fellowship” (what does that mean, really? In church lingo it really just means food) and discussion of a certain book by a Christian author. With some reluctance, I agreed to go. (Reluctance that had nothing to do with the people involved; I liked them just fine.) At the first discussion session, we were talking about one of the study guide questions, which went something along the lines of “What would be your ideal life?” or something like that. One of the women said – I kid you not – “I wouldn’t want my life to be ideal, because then I might not feel like I had to rely on God.”
Seriously? Who says things like that? Nobody really believes that. Every one of us wants our ideal life, whatever “ideal” means to us. Every one of us – even those who have no desire to be wealthy – wants to have enough money to take care of our family’s needs and desires. We all want to be healthy and for our family to be healthy. We all work, all of the time, to create our own version of the ideal life. To say otherwise is to be dishonest – at least with ourselves if not with others.
But that’s the kind of thing that Christians say all the time, often without really thinking. We sing, with deep emotion, “Lord, you’re all I want.” But it’s not true. Most of us want lots of other things. We want food, money, other people’s approval, prestige, love, children, a new car, whatever. It’s different for each of us, but every one of us – well, nearly every one of us – wants something else besides God’s presence, and if our behavior (e.g., use of our time and resources) is any indication, we want that something else more than we want God’s presence. And I just have such a hard time living with that . . . lie that we tell ourselves and each other. We could, most of us, honestly say, “Lord, you’re all I want to want.” That would be true. For many of us, our heart’s cry is to want him more than anything else. But that’s not what we sing. It doesn’t make as lovely a thought in a song on Sunday morning.
I know a few people – a very few – whom I believe truly feel the way most Christians say they do. A few people whose lives bear witness to the relationship with God they say they’ve found. I admire and even envy those people. My friend Vicki is one of them. Our former pastor, Joe, is another. And the funny thing is, they would be the first to admit their own flaws, while the rest of us see God’s handprint in their character.
Most of us, though, are just bumbling along, living our day-to-day lives virtually unchanged by the faith we profess, reflecting holiness only for that hour or two that we spend in church. And that inability to take our Sunday morning holiness into our Monday morning world is inconsistent with what I understand the Bible to say should be the reality of the Christian life.

I’m sure I am wrong in my analysis, and any number of people would try to set me straight if they read this. They probably would be right. And that, in the end, is why I don’t go to church.

Your comments are invited and welcome. Honesty is appreciated, but so is kindness.

Why I Love America

I have lots of time to think during my 50+-mile (each way) commute each weekday. The other day I got to thinking about what's going on in this country. Lots to complain about, with the troubled economy, the (in my opinion) out-of-control politicians going crazy coming up with new ways to spend ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money while intruding into ever more areas of our lives, etc.

Anyway . . . some country song came on the radio, talking about all the great things about America, and it reminded me that, even with all that's going on, this still is a great country, for so many reasons. So here's my list — in no particular order — of some of the things I love about this country.

  1. Our land is beautiful. No matter what kind of scenery floats your boat, you'll find it somewhere in this country: evergreen-covered mountains? crashing ocean waves? red-rock desert? endless prairies? We've got it all. 
  2. We are diverse. No matter what you believe, there's somewhere for you to live and feel like you fit in. If you're a Christian, the south is a great place to be, because you still can talk openly about your faith (even on the TV news) without being ridiculed. If you're a secular humanist, you'll feel right at home in certain parts of New York or the Pacific Northwest. City boy or country girl, there is a place for you in this vast country.
  3. We give. Americans have the most generous hearts in the world. If someone has a genuine need — a child becomes critically ill, or a natural disaster strikes, or neglected animals are found, or a tyrant is wreaking havoc on the people of his country — Americans will fall all over themselves to help.
  4. We're strong. There's not much this country can't endure, working together. And like many families, no matter how much we bicker, when the need is great, we come together for the common good. We can disagree (vehemently) on everything from politics to religion to pizza toppings, but when push comes to shove (e.g., when someone flies an airplane into one of our buildings) or a tornado devastates one of our cities, we unite to do what needs to be done.
  5. We achieve. Though times are tough, this still is the land of opportunity. No matter how humble a person's beginnings, she still has the chance to work her way into a better life. There are support systems available for those who have the will and the heart to try.
  6. We're free. The fact that our airwaves and social networking sites are rife with disparate viewpoints and sometimes angry debate is a symptom of the freedom of speech and thought that we still enjoy. Don't like the government? You're free to criticize it to your heart's content. No one will throw you in jail, and most people — even those who disagree — will fight to defend your right to state your opinion. Lead a march, launch a website, write a letter to the editor or your congressman, speak out at the city council meeting. The marketplace of ideas is alive and thriving in the United States, and the national government is constitutionally prohibited from punishing us for our “dissident” ideas.

Do I think that Americans are intrinsically better than citizens of other nations? Of course not. Am I blind to the difficulties facing us in these modern times? Not at all. We have serious issues to address as a nation. But still, I'd rather be a citizen of the United States than of any other country in the world, and sometimes it's good to take a step back and reflect on all the good things we have here, that make this union worth preserving.

Freedom of speech is alive and well on this blog. Your comments (respectful and non-profane) are invited and encouraged.