Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Finding Encouragement

The UPS man just knocked on my door with a case of my brand-new book on his shoulder. I didn't accost him like I did the poor UPS guy who came with the case of my very first book.

Me: Do you know what this is? Do you know? (in high-pitched squeals only a girl can make)

UPS guy: Uh, no Ma'am (fear flickers across his eyes)

Me: My book! My very fist book! I actually wrote a real book! (I resist hugging him here and probably sensing that he shoves the fifty pound box at me and takes off.)

It's still exciting and wonderful and kind of unbeliveable though. I flipped through one off the fresh stack and inhaled the smell. (If you smell books - you'll know why I did it - if you don't smell books then there's no point in trying to explain it anyway.)

It's something I never thought could happen. God's like that. He takes something that seems impossible and makes it real. He takes something that lingers in our dreams and gently pulls it into reality.

Except in cyberspace (and my fabulous husband - speaking of dreams coming true)I really don't have very many people to celebrate with. Lots of people around me, well, they just don't get what I do. It can be hard, but it also forces me to remember the One who moves me to do it all in the first place and sense His pleasure. What dad wouldn't be excited for their daughter? I can be sure that He celebrates with me and today - well, that's enough for me. He gets it.

I wonder how many of you don't get much encouragement in your calling. I wonder how many of you labor almost in secret. I'm sure you do. We live in a world where we don't naturally encourage one another, we have to learn how and prcatice it often. So if you have need of encouragement I have two suggestions that have helped me:

Become an encourager - be someone who looks for ways to encourage those around you, whether it's a friend, a sibling or even your mom and dad. Or a stranger at church whose smile brightens your day. Or an author whose books... (whoops - never mind;)

And remember the One who sees all you do. Keep in mind that Christ doesn't just hang around us to keep us out of trouble, He hangs around us because He loves us. He weeps with our pain and celebrates in our victories. Nothing you do is ever a secret from Him. The more you get to know Him - the more you'll be content with only Him knowing your sacrifices.

Of this I am completely convinced - He loves you more than you can imagine!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball


My daughter posted these thoughts in her blog earlier this week. I could try to come up with something better, but why do that when her words are so beautiful and true? Enjoy . . .


I had some great thoughts today. Thoughts that made me smile really big, and close my eyes, and turn my face up to the sky and let the bright sun and cold, crisp air soak into my being. I was throwing the ball for Lucy (the Higgins' yellow lab) and watching her run across the yard and jump into the water to retrieve it, then run back towards me dripping with lake water, dirt smudged all over her face and paws, smiling around the tennis ball wedged in her mouth. Curtis and I have talked a lot lately about throwing balls for dogs. He says he's jealous that dogs have a master that they can see, and that pleasing their master consists of nothing more than running as hard as they can in the direction of a ball that's been thrown for them.


Watching Lucy today, my mind expanded on these thoughts. Lucy is truly the happiest when she's chasing a ball across the yard. I noticed today that she starts running as hard as she can way before I throw the ball... actually, as soon as the ball is in my hand and I begin lifting my arm, she is already half-way across the yard, running her heart out before any ball is in sight. She runs because her experience tells her that the ball will be thrown and that it will be thrown somewhere in that general direction, even if she has to slightly alter her course once the ball comes in view. But by that time she's already covered most of the distance required to retrieve it. I also noticed that as she's running, waiting for the ball to come into view, she keeps her eyes turned up toward the sky so that she can see the ball flying overhead as soon as possible. Pretty cool image, huh? I think this whole "dog chasing the ball" metaphor is becoming my new philosophy for living.


So yeah.... I want to run as hard as I can in the direction that my experience (there's a lot included in that word) suggests my Master might be pointing. I don't feel like the ball is in view yet, but I want to be ready to snap it up as soon as it lands so I can give it back to the Master with a huge smile on my face as he says, "Well done." So I'd better not stop running. And in the meantime I'll keep my eyes turned up toward heaven.



*~*~*~*~*

Good advice for all of us, eh? Let's run today with our eyes toward heaven, wanting nothing more than to please our Master. I'm in. How 'bout you?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Matters of Life

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. While you may never serve on the Supreme Court (then again, you could!), on a more personal level each of us can do our part for Life.

Imagine this . . . your good friend has just dropped a bombshell on you. She's pregnant. She's scared. She doesn't know what to do. What's your first reaction-loving concern or a long lecture? Pause for a moment. Consider your words carefully. The first ones out of your mouth may make a huge difference in what your friend thinks about herself and her baby.

Here are a few things to remember:

Remember . . .your friend most likely feels alone, frightened, and extremely sensitive about her pregnancy. Remain calm and loving.

Remember . . . your friend has been looking for love by giving herself intimately to a boy. Now she feels ashamed and unworthy of love. She needs you to show her God's love and forgiveness.

Remember . . . your friend considers this baby a mistake—a barrier between herself and “normal” life. She needs you to loving remind her that no matter how the baby was conceived, he or she is a gift from God.

Remember . . . there are people available to offer support to your friend free of charge. Help her to get in touch with a local crisis pregnancy center in your area. Many centers offer baby items, parenting classes, support groups, adoption information, and anything else your friend might need during and after her pregnancy.

Remember . . . the decisions your friend makes now will affect her for the rest of her life. Be a friend that she can look back on with favor. A friend who helped her to make a decision for life.

To find a Crisis Pregnancy Center in your area look at:
http://www.pregnancycenters.org/

For information about the first nine months of life try:
http://www.justthefacts.org/continue.asp

Pregnancy Help Hotline:
CareNet 1-800-395-4357

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chaos

I bumped into a friend at church on Sunday. She said she had been struggling with depression and feeling her life was a swirling mass of darkness. I can relate to that. I suffer from depression from time to time. I take a pill for it, in fact, because it is due to a chemical imbalance.
Logic doesn't help much when you feel stuck in a black hole.
I gave her a verse that helped me in one of my dark times.
Genesis 1:2 "And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."
When I first read that and applied it to my distress, I literally felt like God had just tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear. My life, emotions, my very being felt formless and without purpose. Darkness surely covered my deepest being. But in that moment I saw that God had not deserted me. In fact, He hovered over my surface, and He was about to do a mighty work.
If you feel depressed, don't feel that you are a bad person without hope. Seek help. There might be a medical reason for your depression. Also, seek God. He is so close, even if you can't clearly see Him. And He is about to do a mighty work in your life.

Monday, January 23, 2006

And The Award Goes To ...

From the American Library Association:
For the first time ever, the American Library Association (ALA) will pilot a live Webcast of its national announcement of the top books and video for children and young adults - including the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz awards - on January 23 at 7:55 a.m. CST. The award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which will bring together more than 12,000 librarians, publishers, authors and guests in San Antonio from January 20 to 25. Online visitors will be able to view the live Webcast the morning of the announcements by following the links that will be on the ALA home page and at news.ala.org. High-speed access will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
It's fun to watch the Amazon sales rankings change to reflect the ALA's awards.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"Write Something Every Day"

As promised, this week I'm starting my series of posts on Truths and Myths about writing. Each time I post, I'll start with a truth or myth about the writing life, the publishing industry, etc. Hopefully you'll enjoy some of these secrets, tips and tricks.

So let #1 is "Write something every day." What do you think? Is that a truth or a myth?

You've probably read this advice before or heard a writer say it: you should write something every day. But I disagree. I say that's a MYTH.

You shouldn't write something every day. You should take at least one day a week off. God set the example for us by resting on the seventh day, and we should take a cue from Him. Believe me, I've tried writing every day. But if you work without any break, sooner or later, you're going to burn yourself out.

The only way to stay fresh and inspired is to give yourself a regular break from your writing. I usually try to take either Saturday or Sunday off. And if I have a supertight deadline that forces me to work through the weekend, then I take one day the following week off. And if I've been working real hard on a big project, I'll take 2-3 days off. The key is: give yourself a break.

But don't get me wrong. This isn't an excuse.

The truth is, those who say you should write every single day have learned a secret about writing: If you want to be successful, you need to write regularly. So write 5-6 days a week. Write something every one of those days. Don't wait for inspiration to hit--just sit down and write, whether it's 10 pages or one short paragraph. Something is better than nothing.

Until next time--enjoy writing!

Chris

Christopher Maselli
TruthPop.com

Thursday, January 19, 2006

When Angels Die

I was all ready to write this week, but I could not find my "voice". I am too disturbed, to enraged, to horrified by what has happened around me. Nixmary Brown was brutally murdered this week by her stepfather. Reports claim that she was screaming for her Mother who was in the other room while she was being held under water and beaten by this man. Nixmary has allegedly suffered years of physical, sexual and mental abuse at his hands and the hands of her Mother. Nixmary was seven.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/13/earlyshow/main1206722.shtml

I cannot think, I cannot even allow myself to totally understand what is coming out in the newsreports. What this child suffered and survived. How she died pleading for the one who should have laid down her life to defend her. How her broken and bruised body told a horror story to the coroner. And you know, in every picture they show of her...you can see it in her eyes.

Please, if you are being abused or know someone who is..tell someone. Tell someone now and don't stop until that child is safe. Don't just pray, don't whisper, don't gossip. Recognize it, report it and help the child anyway you can. It is a matter of life and death.

Nixmary, may you rest in peace sweetheart. May you be given a hero's welcome in heaven and may you spend eternity in the arms of a Father will use endless time to show you the love you should have been shown here. God Bless the little angel, Nixmary.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Silently Suffering from Abortion

I sank into the rocker, and my fingers trembled as they touched my lips. The television news was reporting the murder of a little girl. A photo of her beautiful face flashed across the screen, and my heart pounded. I didn’t know the victim, yet the newscaster’s words echoed through my thoughts. It seemed he was no longer talking about the girl, but about another helpless victim—the baby I aborted in 1987. In my heart he was speaking directly to me: “She was innocent. She didn’t have a chance to fight for life. Her future was snatched from her.”

Pain coursed through my chest as I was unwillingly taken back to my sophomore year in high school and my secret sins—the shame of getting pregnant, the denial that I held life within my womb and finally the abortionist’s clinic.

Like many women who seek help for an unplanned pregnancy, I was told there was no baby—only a blob of tissue. I was told an abortion would be best. It would be over before I knew it. How wrong they were. And, how wrong I was to succumb to the lies, believing I was having a simple procedure and I would soon be free. If an abortion promised freedom why did pain shackle my heart? Why was I ashamed to tell anyone of my choice? Why was I silently suffering?

My experience that day in front of the television was not uncommon. It occurred many times in many ways. Ten years later I was married to a Christian man and had three, beautiful children, but all the good in my life couldn’t erase the mistake of my past. In Bible Study, when my friends spoke out against abortion, I put on a strong face, guarding the tears that desired to break free. I was sure they would hate me if they only knew—after all, I hated myself.

Some nights, images of my moments on the doctor’s table flooded my head like evil voodoo dancers—spinning, growing, mocking me. Would I ever find relief? I was a Christian, and I knew God had forgiven me. But could I ever forgive myself? Would regret forever hold me in bonds of shame and silence?

The fact is that one out of every four women in the United States have had an abortion. Do you know one of them? For them the pain from abortion can include depression, numbness, guilt and much more.

Thankfully, I found healing through a Bible Study Forgiven and Set Free. If you know someone who needs help, the rest of My Story can be read at here.

When I was fifteen-years-old and on the abortionist's table, I thought I'd found the only way. I now know that wasn't the case. Yet Jesus has shown me He can provide healing from the past--no matter how painful.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Power (or Peril) of Imagination



How many times have you daydreamed yourself into fame and fortune? I think it's a pretty common tendency in our celebrity-crazy world to imagine oneself accepting the academy award or posing on the red carpet as fans swoon and beg for an autograph.

Or maybe you've set your heart on a slightly lower star. A date to prom with the dreamiest guy at school? Or being elected "most beautiful" or "popular" or "cool"?

There's a danger in daydreams, especially if they lead to discontentment with the uniqueness God has created in each of us. We are His works of art with gifts and talents waiting to be discovered and developed. We can waste our lives wishing we were someone or something else. Or we can capture our imaginations for Christ, taking our thoughts captive and focusing on what pleases and honors Him.

Here's our 2006 challenge. Let's turn our imaginations toward eternity. Let's ask God to show us how we can change our world by loving the least and living a set-apart life--not conforming to this world, but transforming our hearts, minds, and dreams into a playground for His Holy Spirit.

It's a new year. Life is too short to squander it on empty fantasies. There's a God in Heaven who does exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or think! So fasten your seatbelts, gang. I have a feeling this is going to be a wild and wonderful adventure . . .

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I Second the Motion

Suz asked that you (the reader) take a minute to introduce yourselves to us. Please Do! Use the comment option.
I missed going to church last week because a vicious little stomach bug took up residence in my innards. This morning when I walked in the back door of the children's ministry wing, I was greeted time and again by people I know well and people I know only slightly. It made me appreciate the "family" I have in my church. And it also pointed out to me that the family of God consist of people I know well and people like you. We are in the family but have never met. It's a good feeling to know we share a bond. Let us hear from you.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Thinking of You

Tonight when I sat down to write this post, my thoughts went to you -- the reader. Who are you? What is going on in your life? What questions do you have about God, about faith? And then I was reminded that God knows who will read this. He knows you. He knows your heart.

So tonight I just want to say that I hope you feel him. I pray that you sense his presence. Not just his love for you, but the deep compassion, guidance, and direction.

Take a minute and tell us your name. Let us know what is on your heart. If you need prayer, let us know. I know this isn't a profound post (not that mine usually are), but the reason that each of us on this blog write for teens is because God placed you on our heart. So, profound or not, it's real.

I look forward to meeting you.

Suz

Friday, January 13, 2006

James Frey: How Many Pieces?

James Frey is the bestselling author from Ohio of Queen Oprah's recent pick, A Million Little Pieces, his so-called "non-fiction" memoir. Interestingly, it turns out he lied to make himself seem worse than he really was, and the extent of his fabricated depravity is part of what drew Oprah to his book.

Here's what I'm wondering: Why are people tempted to embellish their lives so that they seem like troublemakers? Do your friends ever exaggerate their own histories like Frey did, skewing it negatively in the re-telling? Why is it so cool to be bad in our culture?

I pray this whole scandal leads Frey to see that the only person who can repair a shattered life, whether it's been broken into a million little pieces or only into a dozen, is not himself or Oprah, but the Broken Man Himself -- Jesus of Nazareth.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Winter Blues


I happen to live in a part of the country where we have four seasons a year, but there are time I wish it could be spring all year long.

I know it's weird to be talking about spring in the beginning of January, but hang in there with me:-) We've had bizzare weather here lately. Usually January is cold but today is the second day this month we've had sixty degree weather. It's beautiful and just looking outside makes me smile. It's like a glimpse of spring. I realize that we still have to get through a lot of winter, February tends to be our coldest month. But days like this make me long for that warm weather.

We go through spiritual seasons as well. And just like the winter, there can be spells where it just feels like life is on hold and God's voice seems fainter, or even silent. We all go through them. But then out of the blue, we will get a glimpse, a reminder that God is still there and that this season will come to an end.

"Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the Earth; the season of singing has come." (Song of Songs 2:10b-12a)

I feel like I've been in one of those drier, lonelier times, but in my heart, I know it's a season God has me in. He has me here because He wants to teach me something that I couldn't learn anywhere else. It doesn't mean we just give up. On the contrary, we keep pressing in, we keep seeking after God - even when everything is quiet. We keep believing that spring is right around the corner. It's just a matter of time.

If you feel that winter on your soul, may God sustain and keep you during this time and my He restore to you the joy of your salvation and speak to you in your innermost heart. May God's face shine upon you and give a "glimpse of spring".

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Two Faced

In 9th grade, a girl I knew only a little followed me home. She got off at my bus stop and followed me right into my yard. She was crying and on the verge of hysteria because she had begun having sex with her new boyfriend and was convinced she was pregnant. Her pants didn't fit, she didn't get her last period and her boyfriend had stopped talking to her because she was scared to have sex again. Her worst fear was losing him, the first guy to see behind the overweight and acne prone new girl who was lonely.

I got her to take a deep breath and pray with me. We prayed that she wasn't pregnant and that if she was God would help her. She prayed that her boyfriend wouldn't leave her. I ran into the house to get our phone and talked her into calling her Mother to come pick her up. The next day she ran up to me and joyously announced that she wasn't pregnant. She thanked me for our talk and then looked me dead in the eye and said "Carrie, your life is so perfect."

She didn't know that I didn't invite her over because unplanned guests were never allowed in our home. She didn't know that I kept her outside because I was afraid of what we would walk into. And she didn't know that I was terrified of the consequences of her visit when she left.

My home life was a crap shoot. I could walk in on my parents cuddling and making plans to go out that night. Dinner would be made, the house clean and my Mother would want to hear all about my day and my Father would want everyone to join in on a family hug. Or, I would hear the yelling just as I turned the corner into our yard. Based on the type of yelling and whether my Mother was screaming for help or not I would either walk as slow as possible or run as fast as I could. Some days it was Dad backing Mom into a wall and screaming at her over money she had hidden, occasionally making his point by shoving her or choking her. Other days the house was a disaster and my Mother was waiting for me to vent her rage on. And even harder for me, the days when no one was home and I would have to wait and see what would happen. If there was a note that they were at an appointment or working late, great. No note, overturned furniture and broken jewelry meant it was going to be a very long night.

No one knew that I was a cheerleader and worked a second job because it gave me an excuse to be out of the house on weekends. No one knew I joined every club and activity I could because it kept me longer at school. No one knew that some of my sick days were because I was helping my Mother put makeup over her bruises so she could keep her job, or because she once again took us and left my Father. No one knew that the times I did badly on tests or forgot to do projects were because I spent the night refereeing between my parents or taking the brunt of my Mother's frustration with life. They didn't know that I was backing out of plans again because I needed to help my Mother catch my Father cheating.


I am not airing my dirty laundry or getting back at my parents by telling the family secrets. I am reaching back in time to me. To a little girl clutching her bible and crying because she doesn't want to go out of her room and stop her parents from fighting again, she just wants to sleep. To the little girls and little boys who have to pick up the pieces of their souls every morning and go to school and act like nothing is wrong, all the time dreading the terror that comes every night. The kids who pay for their parents mistakes, and are even considered mistakes, and take that and bundle it inside them every day and just survive.

God loves you. He is standing right there in the midst of your pain and holding out a hand to you. Grab it and hold on tightly like I did, it saved my life. He will make you a victorious survivor instead of a broken victim. He will give you peace and love for all the destruction and hatred you have known. He will beat back the demons of the night and send his angels to watch over you. He will take your wounded and bleeding soul and heal you. He will make it so that when you see yourself, a broken and wounded child, you can say "I know exactly what you are going through and here is how God helped me". And most of all he will give you the desires of your heart.

How do I know? I no longer get sick when I come home. My house is loud and full of noise, but it is of music and laughter. The man waiting for me is a gift from God who is gentle and kind. The girl, also a gift, is my daughter who will never know the pain I have. And, finally, I don't fear the coming night.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

New Series: Secrets, Truths and Myths

I'm heading out for school again tomorrow, getting ready for a chilly week in Vermont. I'm about half way through with getting my Masters in Fine Arts in Writing for Children. It's quite fun, but also quite time demanding. When they said it was full-time, they meant it!

As I was getting ready to post today, I was thinking about the kinds of things teens and adults usually ask me about--and a majority of them are interested in some tips and tricks of the writing industry. They want to know answers to questions like:
  • How do you find time to write?
  • How do you get published?
  • How much eduacation do you need?
  • Do you need an agent?
  • and more...
So when I return, I'm going to start a new series of posts every time it's my turn answering questions like that and revealing the Secrets, Truths and Myths of the Writing Life.

Look for it here...soon!

Chris

Christopher Maselli
TruthPop.com

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Death

4:12LIVE- Christian Authors Together for Teens (1Timothy 4:12)
A friend of mine died on Christmas Eve. I had obligations during the day so I didn't get to the hospice until 8 0'clock, after the last Christmas Eve service I attended. Anne died at 6:30. As I drove through the dark Colorado Springs streets, before I knew Anne had already stepped into the loving embrace of Jesus, I tried to think of what I would say to Ben, her husband, and Maryann, her 15 year old daughter. I didn't think the 1 and 3 year old children would be there.
I remembered two analogies that have helped children in the past. One is the image of Anne as a subject of the loving king. When He calls her to His palace throne room, of course, she goes. That helps children with the feeling of desertion. We know in our heads that a loved one does not leave us on purpose, but in the heart, we often feel abandoned.
The other is an analogy of picking someone here that you would want to visit with. First Lady Laura Bush? JK Rawlings? Think how much more exciting it would be to visit Jesus. In this earthly realm, you would come back from visiting someone. When a parent or loved one goes to visit Jesus, he/she doesn't come back, but waits patiently for your turn to join him/her in heaven.
I walked into the hospice and obeyed the signs that said check in with the nurses station. I announced I was there to visit Anne, and the five staff members went suddenly quiet. I knew I was too late. The head nurse took me aside and told me Anne had passed peacefully about an hour and a half before.
I asked for Ben. She said he'd left around ten minutes before.
I thank her and blessed her and the staff for the wonderful ministry they do at the hospice.
And went back to my car. I drove through the darkened streets of Colorado Springs, on my way to a family party.
This time I knew the words I had conjured up on my way to the hospice were for me, to help me let go of Anne and accept her place was now beside our loving Father in Heaven. I saw the beautiful Christmas lights decorating the homes. I hadn't seen them at all on the way over. And I thought what a wonderful time of year to die. The evidence of Jesus' coming to earth is plastered all over the town. If we allow God to comfort us with these signs of joy, we can remember that Jesus took away the sting of death and gave us an image of the glory of heaven.
I sat beside Ben and Maryann at church this last Sunday. They are doing well. Of course it is hard. But I got a hug from Ben and a smile from Maryann. I know their strength and joy is from the Lord.

Bless all those who weep, and may there be joy in the morning.
Amen

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Try this on for size

Last week I was in a lingerie store. I received a gift certificate and was excited to be able to buy some cool and comfy pjs.

I watched a girl walk in. She was about 14, maybe younger. She had short brown hair and wore her confidence around her loosely. I stood still as about six teen guys walked in behind her. They were older, ranging in age from about 16 to 19.

They surrounded this girl and walked with her to the scanty stuff. One guy started picking items out and holding them up. The guys laughed and nudged each other, all pointing to the girl, and then to the dressing room.

Uh uh. No way. Not on my watch, you don't, I thought.

I saw a sales associate nearby. "What's going on over there?" I asked.

She looked over nervously. "We're near a school. It's lunch time. This happens all the time."

"Are you going to stop it? That girl is no more than 14. There's six guys."

She shrugged. "What can you do?"

People all over the store watched the scene unfold. These guys were picking out the most revealing pieces and throwing them over the girl's shoulder. One guy laughed, snorting. "Try this on. I'll see you now and then I'll see you later. You got it?"

The women in the store either left or looked away.

The girl blushed.

I turned to the sales associate. "Where is the manager?" I asked.

She pointed across the store. A woman stood by the cash register. Her face was flushed and angry, but she did nothing.

I watched as the girl walked toward the dressing room. It was open. The door was a 3/4's door and you could see her feet. She started to undress. The guys lounged around, nudging each other and pushing to get the best vantage point.

God, what can I do? What should I do?

I walked over and stood to face the guys. "What are you doing?" I asked quietly.

One guy pushed another, hitting him on the shoulder. "Nuthin."

"I want you to leave," I said.

"You going to make me?" one said.

I turned and whispered through the door. "These guys don't care for you," I said. "They are not your friends. If they were, this is not something they would ask. You are worth more than this, sweetheart. Please don't do this."

One guy got in my face. "You disrespecting me?"

"No," I said. "You are disrespecting her and you are disrespecting yourself. I can't let you do this. I won't. She's worth more than six guys standing around waiting to stare at her in lingerie. You need to leave."

"We aren't doing anything wrong. They wouldn't let us do this if it was wrong," one guy said. He pointed at the manager.

"I'm telling you it is wrong. I won't let this happen."

One guy walked away. Then another. One turned and glared at me.

I walked away a short distance to give the girl privacy. She walked out and stood still, looking around until our eyes met. "I didn't really want do it," she said quietly.

"Then don't, hon. Don't ever let anyone do that to you again."

I walked past the store manager, the sales associate, the people who stood around nervously, but did nothing. I was angry, so angry that I needed to talk to God, that I wanted to cry.

Someone had forgotten to tell this beautiful 14-year old girl that she was worth waiting for, that there was a man who would one day love her for what was on the inside, who would nurture her and only ask for her what was best for her. No one told her that guys who stand around waiting for you to model see-through lingerie weren't worth hanging around.

Someone had forgotten to tell these teen guys that it's wrong to do this to a young girl, that they could be better men, better people, that relationships are more than what you see on the outside, it's what a girl loves, her laugh, her dreams, her hopes, how to connect in friendship and fun and so much more. No one told them that girls are more than their current fantasy.

Worse, someone forgot to tell the adults that did nothing, said nothing, looked away as if they were at a train wreck, that it is our job to love and protect teens, even if it's uncomfortable.

I don't know if I did the right thing or if I handled it correctly. All I know is that this incident burned in my mind for several reasons.

I want to take every 14-year-old girl in my mamma arms and let them know that they are beautiful and valuable and to ask them to expect, demand even, respect from others and from themselves.

I want to sit with cool teen guys, even these not-so-cool guys who got caught up in the group mentality, and explain what it means to be an amazing man, a godly man who cares and who wants only the best for others.

I want, and plan to, contact this store's headquarters and ask them to change their "see nothing, do nothing" policy. I want them to "try on" responsibility toward teens.

So I know I sound a 1,000 years old in today's post, but this incident burned within me on a lot of different levels.

It still does.

My two cents for today,

Suzie Eller
http://realteenfaith.com -- Real teens loving a real God in a real world

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Re-Vising

I'm writing two YA novels about a President's daughter for Dutton books, and the revision of book one is due January 20th. I didn't write much during Advent, and now I must JAM. It's a good thing that I like revising better than writing the original first draft. The word itself signifies fresh starts and second chances -- "RE-VISION." It's what the Author of faith does with human lives -- takes a narrative arc that's not great to begin with and works away at it until it becomes a tale well-told, a story worth hearing, an unforgettable hero's journey. Here's to a great year of revising and being revised! Happy 2006!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Weary Resolutions

Let's continue on this topic of resolutions.

I've always been a planner - I make lists, plan my errands - it's just the way I think. So I can't help but make some resolutions, or goals for myself. Yesterday, when I got out of bed I was feeling really discouraged. A lot of things I wanted to happen last year just didn't. I had been praying, trying to keep the faith and yet the year went by seeing no change in my circumstance. I was feeling defeated, and a little hopeless as I dragged myself to church.

I plop into a chair (we don't have pews) and sadly remember that our church's "focus" of the year is evangelism. Now I talk to people about Christ but I'm not "go knock on a stranger's door" type of person. But instead of tuning out of the sermon I try to focus. "God I need to hear you today." I whisper.

And you know what - I did.

One of the pastor's points was how we measure success. Now he was talking in terms of evangelism, but I heard something different. Through the trials we've been through, I've had to keep my focus on Him - not on the circumstances. But truly, I couldn't help but want to actually "see" some change last year instead of just believing that it would come. Yesterday I realized how much I was still looking for the fruit on the tree instead of being content knowing that the roots are going deeper. It's not an easy thing. We live in a world where we want our results fast. And yet sometimes God delays the results because He's working on something deep inside.

So like Barb, my resolutions are a bit different this year. I need to stay focused on Him - keep my ears open to His call. And trust that the winter will give way to the spring eventually. There's a verse that talks about us watching for God like the watchman waits for the morning. Morning always comes - we never have to wonder "if" it will, we just wait for it. So my goals...wait on God - let Him renew my strength - keep the faith.

He will never fail us.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

'Tis the Season

You can see it everywhere-- the exercise equipment sales in the department store inserts, the counter displays of healthy living books in the bookstores, the covers of magazines in the grocery store.

It's New Year's Resolution Time.

Did you know that most people break their resolution within the first few hours of January 1?

Why do you think that is?

I have a pretty good hunch. Because we really aren't a different person that we were on December 31. We still have the same struggles, the same trials, the same weaknesses that we did before, so why do we really think we can just make a declaration and have it all be different because our calendar says its a new year?

That's why we fail.

But Jesus, He made a different declaration for us. He said that through Him all things are made anew. So, maybe our new year's resolutions need to be less about how we're going to change ourselves and more about getting close to Him so He can do the changing.

That's where my resolve is going to be.

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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