January 2015

Turning a 'shaft' into a mine

Did you see all those commercials before Valentines Day trumpeting Le Vian’s “unique chocolate diamonds”?

The only problem is that brown diamonds are the most common and least valued for jewelry. (The most valuable are white and blue.) So, for centuries, brown diamonds were used only for industrial purposes. Then the Le Vian family decided on a creative marketing strategy. Instead of calling them ubiquitous and virtually useless brown chunks of compressed coal, they hyped them as “Chocolate Diamonds.” Everyone loves chocolate! And Le Vian family has been making a whole mine of money selling them!

Or maybe you have seen the ads for Snyders of Hanover’s “Flavored Pretzel Pieces.” The TV ad claims that they contain so much “intense flavor” that no one can eat a whole pretzel. Another genius marketing plan! They’re selling off the broken pieces from the pretzel line.

Kellogg’s did the same thing with “Corn Flake Crumbs.” I worked at the cereal company four summers while I was in college. One night, I worked the corn flakes line. (There is nothing better than hot, crisp corn flakes right from the oven.) But what do you do with all the broken flakes? You install a giant vacuum over the line with the suction carefully calculated to suck up crumbs and dust, but not the whole flakes. Voila! Corn Flake Crumbs!

What once were considered rejects, scraps, damaged goods fit only for the dumpster, are now proudly marketed as something truly wonderful. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)

What in your life is a brown diamond? A broken pretzel? A Corn flake crumb?

We all have areas in our lives that are not perfect, investment-quality Grade-A Fancy. But often our weaknesses turn into our strengths, our failures into our successes, and our worthlessness into our greatest value. The apostle Paul writes:

  • Thatt’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

How can you turn what appears to be a dark, cold “shaft” into a diamond mine?

I actually score over 100 on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder scale (150 and under is still “high functioning”). But I have managed to turn “quirky” into creative. I’ve used my clinical depression as motivation to write with hope and humor. And my OCD seems to balance out my ADD, so I am extremely organized and, thus, extremely productive: over 30 books, 2,000 articles and hundreds of blog posts, along with hundreds of speaking engagements. (I don’t suffer from mental illness, I thoroughly enjoy it! And I think my readers do as well.)

So, how about you? How can you turn dinosaur doodoo into “chocolate” diamonds?

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Related sites
• Are authors in their “write” mind?
• I’m a mess. You’re a mess
• You may be depressed if . . .

Thanks so much for the support and encouragement in my honesty about my own mental health issues. However, a good friend loving emailed me to say, basically, “Don’t call yourself—a creation of God—mentally ill.” I so appreciate that, but one of my “hope and humor” goals is to educate the church on mental health issues affecting God’s creations.

Telling someone with depression to get off anti-depressants and “just have a positive attitude” is like telling someone with high blood pressure to get off their meds and “just think lower BP thoughts.” Those “voices” probably need Haldol rather than an exorcism. And someone born with a propensity to addictive behaviors needs support and encouragement rather than condemnation. It’s often bio-chemical imbalances not sinfulness.

If we have cancer, the whole church will rally behind us. If we have schizophrenia, most of the church will stay clear of us. But mental illness is not a “spiritual” issue any more than a broken leg is a sign of lack of faith. We live in a fallen world that causes brokenness physically, socially, spiritually . . . and mentally. Help is available, so see a licensed professional if you’re struggling with mental health issues. And find a Christian group or a trusted friend from whom you can receive prayer, support and accountability. Prozac and prayer is a powerful combination!

Copyright 2015 James N. Watkins

Feel free to forward this post or use it on your site. Just be sure to include the copyright notice above. Thanks!

Also new at Hope&Humor . . .

A civil debate on same-sex marriage
The United States Supreme Court announced it will rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state. Currently, of the 36 states with legal sex-sex marriage, only three states have approved it by popular vote and eight states by state legislatures. Twenty-five have been legalized by court decisions.

Jesus on "prosperity gospel"
What would Jesus say about the religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one’s material wealth?

Are Islam and Christianity "peaceful religions"?
When Islamic terrorists flew commercial airliners into the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon and the ground in Pennsylvania, President George Bush addressed the nation declaring “Islam is a religion of peace.” Recently, President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly, “We are not at war against Islam. Islam is a religion that preaches peace.” But is it really? 


Why? Wise Quotations for Why Questions

I've compiled over 1,000 encouraging quotations dealing with the tough questions of life from over 200 authors, poets, pastors, philosphers and politicians from around the world and throughout history (see book cover).

Click to order

But wait, there's more . . .

Jesus: His Life & Lessons

This user-friendly book arranges His life in chronological order and His teachings by topics, plus a glossary to make it even easier to explore the gospels. No commentary, no doctrinal statements, just 100% Jesus. A perfect gift for anyone seeking to learn more about Jesus. Buy one for yourself and another for a friend. Foreword by Mary DeMuth

Over the Hill--Onto the Mountain Top

Louise Looney and I refuse to believe we are “over the hill”! We’re continuing to climb higher and higher as we journey with hope and humor. So it was an honor to contribute my one-liners on aging to her warm, witty and wise devotional book for the AARP demographic. I also contributed an Appendix, since people our age don’t have one.

The perfect gift for the seniors in your life!

Plus books for teens, adults and writers of all ages

Where I'm speaking

March 25-31, 2015
Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference
Mount Hermon, California

June 24-28, 2015
St. Davids Christian Writers' Conference
Grove City, Pennsylvania

"The Happiest Writers' Conference on Earth"

The St. Davids conference has always been one of my favorite conferences--so full of fun and faith. So it was a real privilege when I was asked to direct it.

Click link above to learn about the award-winning faculty, conferee-friendly schedule, and pics of beautiful Grove City College (on the Ohio/Pennsylvania). Mark your calendars for June 24-28, 2015. (Or if you can only attend on Saturday, we will have a complete mini-conference for you: "From Concept to Contract.) I hope to see you there!

Click for 2015 schedule. I hope to see my writer friends there.

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"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 John 2).

James Watkins
Author-Speaker-Threat to Society

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