Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fingerprints

My teenage son, Jeremy, is taking a CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) class. So we took a tour of the crime lab. We were shown the various ways that criminals are identified. The most common - they leave their fingerprints behind. The forensics’ people can dust door knobs, duct tape and even gloves. That’s right. The oh-so-dumb criminals use gloves and then leave them at the crime scene. At the lab, the scientist turns the gloves inside out and retrieves the fingerprints from the inside of the gloves. The information is fed into the computer system and eventually the criminal is busted.

This all got me thinking about fingerprints. I’m the only person in the world with my fingerprint. I am unique. God formed me that way. I didn’t always want to be unique. For many years there was always someone else I would rather look like, be like. I’m finally happy to be me. Most days.

Who am I?

I am the author of Beauty Quest, A Model’s Journey. It’s about my good, bad and ugly experiences as a fashion model.

I am the wife of a gifted musician/songwriter who has filled my life with music and laughter.

I am the mother of two teenage boys and two beautiful grown daughters.

I am Grandma to Jude and his little sister who is due in June.

I am Tonya Ruiz.

Monday, February 27, 2006

not so fast


Am I the only one creeped out by the little demonic "my fast" creature on the VW commercials? I almost never watch TV, but I took in a few prime-time Olympic moments, and I saw several versions of these ads. Maybe I'm totally out of touch with what sells, but in my opinion, this approach has "marketing disaster" written all over it.

I mean, do you want a nightmarish, black plastic blob with a droning, distorted voice controlling your choices and telling you to do stupid, illegal, or inconsiderate things? Ick.

On the other hand, I really liked the Allstate commercial with the frumpy couple ice-skating to "Do the Hustle." Two thumbs up with chocolate syrup and a triple lutz on top.

Extreme MakeUNDER

This weekend I got to hang out with and speak to over 900 teenagers at the Oklahoma Dist. Girls retreat. There's nothing like walking into a room with almost a thousand wild women of God.

The theme was Extreme Makeover, but my topic was Extreme MakeUNDER.

My message was "get naked".

What??

I'm serious. That was my message. Get real with God. Take off all the stuff that gets in the way. Remove the labels. Remove the mask. Climb over the walls and be real.

There are thousands of girls across the nation (also guys and adults) who are marked with destiny. God created and fashioned them in his image with his nature, with a desire to know purpose.

But stuff gets in the way. Stuff gets put on you that hides who you really are.

People drop labels on you like rain -- stupid, lazy, sexy, nerd, hot, loser . . .

Where do you get those labels? Not from God. Coz when he first created man and woman, he called his craftsmanship good, very good. God doesn't see the labels. He sees you.

What about masks? Masks hide the real you, putting out messages to the world: I'm tough. I'm okay. Everything's peachy. And yet it's a facade. Masks get in the way because your faith becomes all about pleasing people or putting a false message out there instead of dealing with the real issues.

And then there's walls. Built a brick at a time. Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me. Get back. You can come in, but you can't. But if I let you in and you mess up -- you're outta here.

Walls are a defense mechanism. They work fairly well, except it gets lonely in there all alone. Besides, my Bible says that we are meant to fly, to run a race, to be a part of building the kingdom of God.

It's hard to do that with a brick wall in your way.

Letting God help you in your Extreme MakeUNDER is hard, wonderful, amazing, and tough. But it's also a place where God can heal you, direct you, and give you a glimpse of yourself through his eyes.

That's when the REAL extreme makeover begins.

You throw off masks, labels and walls as God covers you with strength, confidence, purpose, and direction.

Now that's a makeover I'm signing up for. . .

What about you?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Do you meet fantasy characters in your life?

I write fantasy stories, but in truth, I write about what happens to people every day.
My fantasy world is peopled by characters who want to feel good about themselves. Most real people do, as well.
In our world, people who are struggling to feel good about themselves sometimes go barreling down the wrong path.
You can name those paths.
Drugs.
Promiscuity.
Shoplifting.
Exaggerated clothing and/or make up.

Next time someone does something that irritates you, think about this: The unlovable behavior might just be that person’s bid to be accepted somewhere, somehow, by someone.
The loud-mouth clown in class. Does he feel threatened by the students who learn more easily than he does?
That bottle-redhead who bats her eyes. Does she feel lonely at home?

When I feel insecure, I tend to act like someone I’m not. And I don’t usually like that person. What a paradox!
But if I stop and remember that I am a Child of God, I know that I am accepted.
Where? Everywhere.
How? Without a demand that I measure Up to anyone’s standards.
By whom? Someone, with a capital S. More capitals than that! The LORD.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Poetry Challenge: Playing with Words


I recently visited a friend's blog and discovered he'd issued a poetry challenge to his readers. There weren't any rules. He simply asked readers to go to the comments section and compose a poem. They could say whatever they wanted to, but they had to say it in verse.

I know some of the teen readers of this blog aspire to someday be writers, so I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little secret. Yes, there's a lot to learn about craft, but a big part of writing is loving language. And what better way to get acquainted with words than to play with them? When we write in verse, we train our minds to pay attention to the built-in rhythm of language. It's a great exercise and lots of fun.

So, today I'm issuing a poetry challenge. This goes out to the blog readers and contributors. Compose a poem in the comments section. Make it rhyme. Give it meter. It can be cheesy or sweet or profound. It can be as long or short as you want. It can even be a protest, like, "Rhyming verse is very lame/I do not want to play your game." As long as you say it in verse, it counts.

I'll start by composing a poem about this blog. Here we go:

4:12LIVE

In any kind of cyber weather
Christian authors come together,
Sharing from our lives and hearts
Revealing our mistakes and warts,
Because we know you don't need fluff
And life with Jesus can get tough.

Though friends may laugh or think you're odd
Because you choose to live for God,
We don't despise you for your youth,
We cheer you on to love the Truth.
We never ridicule or mock;
At 4:12 Live we think you rock!


Now it's your turn! Don't be shy. Pick a topic and let the poetry flow. Play with words. Who knows? They may become your best friends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"God Is Your Source"

Here's the next in 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 #4 is "God is your source." What do you think? Is that a truth or a myth?

This is an absolute truth, and here's what it means. Above all, God is the one responsible for taking care of you. Sure, that may seem elementary, but this is something writers struggle with every day. Somehow, we get in our head that we are the source, or our writing is our source--for income, for satisfaction, for success. But it's not. God is our source.

That's hard to grasp if you're a freelance writer and the electric bill is due. Suddenly you find yourself running around like a chicken with its head cut-off looking for something else to write so you can make a little more money. But we must remember: God is our source, not our writing.

In the same way, a publisher isn't our source when it comes to getting jobs or getting approval for what we write. God is our source. He's the One that leads the right publisher to the material we write. He's the One who says He approves--despite what is accepted or rejected from a publisher.

Finally, a creative mind trick isn't our source when we're having trouble coming up with a new idea to write about. God is our source for creativity. He knows just what we need to write about and when we need it. It's our responsibility to take time to be quiet in prayer and hear from Him.

So who is our source for money, jobs, approval and creativity? Is it our writing, our publishers and creative mind tricks? No, God is our source.

Until next time--enjoy writing!

Chris

Christopher Maselli
TruthPop.com

new life

Last night I sat in the altar with three youth. We were surrounded by three hundred people, but I saw no one else but them. Josh is just out of his teens. Brandy is 18. Brianna is 17.

Life hasn't been easy for any of them. Brandy lives with a friend because home isn't a great place to be. Brianna is 17 going on 100 because she's seen too much too soon.

I talked with them, listening to their stories, to their hunger for something better. Josh moved closer so I could pray with him. I placed my hands on his forearm and I felt them.

Scars. Lots of them.

I kept my hand there. Why? I don't know, except I felt God's presence. As if his scars -- taken on the cross -- were big enough to cover the wounds on Josh's arm.

Josh crumpled and placed his head on my shoulder, like he was 6 instead of 20 and began to weep.

He felt God, too.

This is what I love most about faith. New life. God wrapping himself around a life and breathing in purpose and healing and peace.

Afterward, Josh and Brandy and Brianna hugged me.

"I feel so amazing," Brianna said.

Yeah, I love that too.

I love ministry. I love watching God at work.

I love seeing new life.

If you think about it today, will you pray for three brand new followers of Christ. My new friends.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Something kinda weird about me...

I sat and watched a DVD movie with my hubby last night. It was a decent enough movie - but I wasn't prepared for something to strike me the way it did.

In the movie, the younger sister discovers she has a grandmother that she's never met, then flies down to Miami to meet her.

The strange thing is, I have a grandmother I've never met as well.

I don't think about it very much. I never even knew she existed until several years ago partially because I didn't know my dad was adopted until I was in college. He just never mentioned it. Then when I got married, he suddenly decided to hire someone to find his biological family. The agency found them and my dad met them, he even found out he has some half siblings.

His father had died years before, but for some reason, my sister and I were never introduced to the grandmother we never knew we had.

Maybe she didn't want to meet us. I'm not sure.

My family has serious communication issues sometimes and the subject just never came up after he initially met them. Maybe it was painful for my dad to face (or for his mother to face) or perhaps he felt rejected all over again. Whatever it was, we never met her and now my dad is gone.

I would be the one that would have to pursue it if I'm ever to find anything out.

Sometimes the unknown is a safer reality to live in. But today, I'm wondering who this woman is. Does she ever think about me?

Is it a door that should be opened? Or one that should remain closed?

I'm probably not the only person who ever dreamed about finding out that I was really adopted and that my real parents were so much nicer than the ones I had (i.e. - would never ground me or give me an early curfew or embarrass me in front of my friends).

But finding out that my dad was adopted was a huge shock to me - because my parents just never mentioned it! How do you not mention something like that? And after he finds his biological mother, it still is a mystery to me who my biological grandmother really is.

So what would YOU do? Would you try to find out? Or would you leave it alone?

It's an interesting dilemma don't ya think?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Grace Personified on American Idol

Mean-tongued Simon Cowell was humbled this week by a beautiful act of forgiveness offered by Mandisa Hundley, a woman he had made fun of as fat (muttering on national television that they "needed a bigger stage" when she appeared). This lovely gospel singer admitted on Wednesday before millions of viewers that he had hurt her, and then boldly told America that if Jesus could die on the cross for the bad things she had done, she could certainly forgive Cowell. Fox left the soundbyte about Jesus in the show, and Mandisa's lovely smile and act of grace communicated more across the airwaves about the power of the Cross than many a sermon preached by a smooth televangelist. Having my body made fun of publicly would be immensely hard for me to forgive. Could you have done it?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The New Kid

I was invited to join this blog just a few days ago—and honestly, being invited was one of the highlights of my week. Considering I was also offered another three book contract around the same time, the fact that the invitation still ranks pretty high says something. Invitations seem to give us an added sense of value—we know that someone out there thinks highly enough of us that they want us to be somewhere they will be too.

Growing up, my family moved a lot so I was always the new kid in school. Between kindergarten and fifth grade alone I attended five different elementary schools. Because of that I grew up feeling as if I had to make people like me. Since I was always the new kid, I was perpetually morphing myself into the people around me in an attempt to fit in. I always wanted to be invited to be part of the group.

Looking back, my peers would probably tell you I was popular. But if you ask me, I will admit there have been very few times in my life where I actually felt like I “fit in.” There are only a handful of moments where I felt invited to be myself.

Honestly, sometimes I even feel that way in the writing world. My fifth book is due to hit shelves in June, and I have four more books releasing next year. But being only twenty-four sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in with my peers, who for the most part have “normal” nine to five jobs, and I don’t always fit in with other writers who are older and a lot more experienced than I am.

But the thing God has really been teaching me lately is that life is not about finding a place where you feel like you fit. It’s about choosing to be yourself wherever He has placed you. For me that is as a young author finding her voice in the publishing world and as the new kid (once again) on this blog. For you it could be any number of places. But wherever it is, do yourself a favor and enjoy that place as you seek to uncover the treasures God has for you there.

For more information about me you can check out my website www.shannonkubiak.com. But I am launching a new site in March, so this one isn’t really updated.

~Shannon Kubiak Primicerio

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Every Day is Valentine's Day


Tuesday evening my 20-year-old son, Luke, called. We'd been chatting a while when he said, "I'm not sure I like Valentine's Day."

"Why not?"

"It's just a day-long reminder that I don't have a girlfriend."

I laughed. "Oh, I don't know. I can look at it two ways. I like holidays that provide excuses to do nice things for people I love. But on the other hand, I don't need excuses to do nice things for people I love. Every day is a new opportunity to show affection."

I told Luke his dad had called earlier in the evening. He was out of town, so we couldn't spend Valentine's Day together, and he apologized for not doing any of the traditional Valentines-y things, like buying me flowers. But here's the deal. Last Sunday afternoon while I napped, he washed my car, filled it with gas, and aired up the tires. Then he went to the store, bought groceries, came home and prepared dinner. When I awoke and stumbled groggily into the kitchen, he shot me a pleased grin as he slipped a casserole in the oven.

When he apologized on Valentine's Day I reminded him of all he'd done for me on Sunday. "That's much more special to me than if you rushed by the florist on your way home and snatched a bouquet of flowers, merely from a sense of duty."

I love flowers as much as the next girl. And I'm a major fan of chocolate. But nothing thrills my heart more than a simple expression of devotion offered for no other reason than to see me smile.

Whether your Valentine's Day held romantic adventures or not, I hope you'll see every day as a chance to shower your beloveds with love in word and deed. We never need an excuse to say, "I love you."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Where Are You Headed?

Last year about this time, I sat down and wrote a list of the top twenty-five things I wanted to have, do, or be. I kept this list by my computer and looked at it often.

There are a few things I'm still working on, such as an assistant. (Wouldn't that be nice?!) Yet most areas I've taken positive steps, or even achieved my goal . . . such as writing a book for moms (Generation NeXt Parenting will hit the shelves in July), developing a time of Bible reading, study, and prayer with my husband, and booking a family vacation (we're heading to Disney World at the end of the month!).

What about you? If you sat down today to make a list of the top twenty-five things you wanted to have, do, or be . . . what would you write?

If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them!

1. Continue to be in tune with Jesus’ voice.
2. Become a dedicated seeker of truth.
3. Become a woman of prayer.
4. Have a healthy spirit, soul, and body.
5. Exercise and eat less.
6. Spend more time studying the Bible.
7. Keep an orderly home.
8. Have our family’s lives be one of peace and not hurry.
9. Have fun times with my family.
10. Support my husband.
11. Develop a time of Bible Study and prayer with John.
12. Develop strong relationships with my kids.
13. Develop a deeper love for my extended family.
14. Stay on a budget.
15. Foster a heart of worship and thanksgiving.
16. Be a voice for young moms.
17. Write a book to help moms.
18. Write a book for veterans.
19. Spend more time with friends.
20. Connect with other families.
21. Write novels that will touch hearts.
22. Develop dynamic speaking skills.
23. Continue to grow and learn as a writer.
24. Find an assistant to help with my writing business.
25. Take a vacation!

Now, what about you . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Holidays and Frustration

Last night I wrote my blog and hit "publish post." When am I going to learn to make a copy of the post before I click that last button?
Soon I hope.
I don't mind making mistakes. It's when I make the same mistake over and over that I become a grouch, an unforgiving grouch.
And I am more tolerant of others who make mistakes than I am of myself.
So today I am working on being gracious toward myself. So I goofed! Again!
The world is not going to come to an end because my wise and well-worded Valentine's Day post scooted off the screen into cyberspace oblivion.
Millions of people will have an enjoyable holiday despite my blunder.
Life will go on.
On this day of expressing love and appreciation of those around you. Take a minute to love and appreciate yourself. Even if you aren't perfect.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lessons From Numinous Black Women

As our nation mourns the deaths of Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks, I've been struck anew by the positive portrayal of older black women in pop culture. The Oracle in the Matrix. Gloria Dump in Winn-Dixie. Madame Zeroni in Holes. Even Oprah comes to mind. Basically, when an older black woman enters a story, we're cued to know that she will help the young hero achieve his or her quest. This sage even has the right to talk about God — one of the few archetypes in pop culture still able to make the name of Jesus sound sweet in our culture's ear.

America, of course, has major issues with race, and you could argue that this "Mammy" stereotype hearkens back to the days of slavery. But going beyond a simple "Hollywood is racist" explanation, I have two theories about why pop culture is open to the voices of older African-American women. First, it's easy to listen to their insights because they have suffered and survived many trials in their own journeys. As David Pilgrim, curator of the Jim Crow Museum, puts it:
The horrors of Jim Crow are not so easily ignored. The children of Jim Crow walk among us, and they have stories to tell. They remember Emmitt Till, murdered in 1955, for whistling at a white woman. Long before the tragic bombings of September 11, 2001, blacks that lived under Jim Crow were acquainted with terrorism. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a black church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. Twenty-three people were hurt, and four girls were killed. The blacks who grew up during the Jim Crow period can tell you about this bombing -- and many others. Blacks who dared protest the indignities of Jim Crow were threatened, and when the threats did not work, subjected to violence, including bombings. The children of Jim Crow can talk about the Scottsboro boys, the Tuskegee Experiment, lynchings, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, and they have stories about the daily indignities that befell blacks who lived in towns where they were not respected or wanted.
Second, our culture is hungering for maternal hospitality. We long for someone to pour us lemonade, serve cookies fresh from the oven, and just plain be with us. Even if we don't realize it ourselves, we need time with older women who aren't in too much of a hurry to welcome us; mothers and grandmothers who can provide the incomparable refreshment and rest of good company.

This provides an opportunity for middle-aged and white-haired women of all races who long to connect with the younger generation. We can respond in two ways. First, we need to share our own stories of survival and suffering. And second, we have to carve out time to sit on the porch of our lives with an empty rocking chair or two beside us, exuding an aura of hospitality and acceptance. Pour some hot tea. Fill a plate with the results of an ancient comfort recipe innovated once upon a time. Listen. Laugh at their jokes.

The church, also, would be wise to incorporate these two "strategies" into youth ministry instead of trying to compete with the glitz, buzz, and fast pace of pop culture. Let's share stories of suffering and offer God's hen-like hospitality in circles of inter-generational community where, as the Rolling Stones put it several decades ago, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try some time, you might find, you get what you need."

Mitali

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"Market Something Every Day You Write Something"

Here's the next in 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 #3 is "Market something every day you write something." What do you think? Is that a truth or a myth?

It depends on what your overall goal is, but in general, this is a truth. If you want to be a published writer, marketing your work can be just as important as writing it.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting it's more important, though some people would say that. I have a friend who believes in the "20/80" rule. He spends 20% of his time writing, and 80% of his time marketing his material. He uses his six-figure writing life to prove his success.

But I don't totally agree. While I see great value in marketing your material, you have to find your own balance between being a writer and being a marketer. But the truth is this: marketing leads to sales, so marketing is important. The question though: how important are sales to you?

For some writers, their ultimate goal is getting published and selling books. My friend will be the first to tell you he's not that concerned with the quality or passion of his writing. He writes to make a good living, so he markets all he can.

But for other writers, the journey of writing and the quality of writing is their passion. Sales are a second thought, if not an afterthought, which provide nice benefits.

I don't think there's anything wrong with either of these scenarios. Both writers write because they love writing. They just have different goals. So, when you consider today's truth, ask yourself where you stand. Personally, I try to do one thing every day to market my writing. (Though now that I'm in school again, it's more like one thing a week...and I've taken a financial hit because of it.) Still, it provides a good balance for me, so I can try to excel at my writing, but also make a living at it.

Finally, what is marketing? It could be writing a proposal for an editor, getting a friend to post a review of your book on Amazon.com, sending an email out, posting on a forum, scoring an interview on a radio show, etc. Anything that raises awareness of your material. It's a necessary evil in the writing life, and it can be quite fun.

Until next time--enjoy writing!

Chris

Christopher Maselli
TruthPop.com

Friday, February 10, 2006

Not on the list


After weeks of anticipation...and praying...I pulled up the Kairos Prize site and was horrified to find that the semi-finalists had been announced. Since no one had contacted me, I already knew my name would not be on the list. But I scrolled through anyway, looking at the titles of screenplays that were obviously better than mine.

What did they write about?

What did I miss?

What was wrong with mine?

The thoughts tumbled around. It brought me back to the day of tryouts for Grease, our high school musical. I had paid my dues for two years singing in the chorus, I was ready for a part. Yet that day as I scanned the cast list for my name, I found it missing from that list as well. I wasn't even in the chorus.

All dressed up for a ball I'm not invited to.

It's all the harder because I really believed I was supposed to enter. I don't usually enter contests. But when I read about this one I had that sense inside me that I was supposed to write this screenplay, supposed to enter it. I did write the screenplay, I did enter it. And now - it's over? It just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm not sure what bothers me more, not making the cut, or feeling like I missed God's voice somehow.

Sitting here, it doesn't make any sense. In this temporal place, I cannot see the grand design God is working. Could I have just missed God? Sure. I'm a fallible human being after all. Perhaps my own hopes and dreams went out ahead of God. Or did God really tell me to do it? Maybe. Maybe He did, knowing something that I don't know yet. Maybe it was simply a lesson on obedience. Or a challenge to my faith to believe in Him, His voice, no matter what the circumstances say.

I could let this stop me. It's probably exactly what the enemy would prefer I do. I could give in to all those whispers of "You're a failure" and "You just don't measure up."

I could, but I won't.

I don't understand it. At all. But sometimes we have to roll with the punches and trust that God can see the big picture well enough to navigate us through the disappointments.

Meanwhile - well, I have a novel to work on...and kids to hug...and a life to live that is not valuable because of anything I do or don't do - but simply because I am His and He is mine.

For today, that has to be enough.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Worth The Wait

You know, I never had a Valentine growing up. Always wanted one, wanted a new one every year. It just never happened.

Every summer I spent the break working at my Uncle's arcade and pizza place. A teenager away from her friends and surrounded by college kids and adults she can't socialize with (my Uncle was more strict than my Father, because he was scared of my Father) can get pretty lonely. Even worse is when your customers are your age but you don't know a soul.

When I was 15 I had just gotten out of my awkward stage and suddenly had curves that were attracting attention. I looked more like 18 and had passed for 21 (once, but that took a lot of flirting). I was dreaming of romance, great dates and handsome boyfriends. I couldn't wait for flowers, jewelry and a sonnet or two to come my way.

The only problem was that while I was dreaming of a poet writing knight in shinning armor, the boys were just dreaming of getting into my bra.

My naive romantic notions and the combination of loneliness and boredom are how I found myself taking a walk on a deserted beach with a complete stranger.

He was handsome, he convinced me he thought I was beautiful and he asked me to go for a walk on the beach during my break. How did he know that that is exactly what I had decided was the most romantic thing in the world? It must be a sign from God!

A small warning went off in my head when none of the other kids he was with came with us (though, if they did, that should have been a red flag too). But he strolled slowly along with me, even grabbed my hand. Ah, how romantic.

I chattered on and on about my summer and how bored I was. What my plans were for school. He kept looking ahead and then steered us towards the back of an empty restaurant with a patio on the beach.

He took a seat next to me, then moved facing me as I was pointing out stars and smelling the air. Then, he moved in for the kill.

"Your so cute!"
"Who, me, ah thanks? Did you see that? I wonder if that is a comet?"
"Yeah, I mean, it is so cute that your nervous. It's cute."
"Nervous, about what?"
"You know..." He pushed my hair behind my ear and smiled.
RED FLAG ALARM
"No, I don't know.."
"Come on, 'a walk on the beach', you know what that means." He leaned in to kiss me.
"Yeah, it means a walk on the beach!"
"No, it means, you know 'a walk on the beach'. Come here."
"Ah, you know I just turned 15 right?" That stopped him.
"What?"
"Yeah, I just turned 15, how old are you."
"19, what do you mean you just turned 15!"
His face changed and he looked really angry, only he wasn't moving away from me.
"Yeah, just yesterday. It was my birthday. Oh, I am so glad to be 15. My Dad, yeah, he is a cop, he treats me like such a baby. He is so psycho. I mean, if he knew I was here with you. You don't want to know."
"Your Dad is a cop? Let's go."
"Hey, I was looking at the stars!"
"Yeah, but we didn't come here to do that. We came here to, you know..forget it, let's go!"
"I told you, I came to WALK on the beach!"
"Yeah, well when your more mature, you'll understand."
"I am mature. You didn't even realize I was only 15!"
"Yeah, well, I usually date mature girls and they know how to handle themselves."
"Gee, I'm sorry."
"It's ok. Just make sure you don't do it again. Not everyone is a gentleman like I am."
"Oh my gosh. I didn't know. I really just wanted to go for a walk on the beach."
"Well, now you know."

For some reason. I felt horrible then. He grabbed my hand and walked me back across the street. I went back to work with my face flaming. I actually whispered "Sorry" to him. His eyes were already checking out the crowd.
"Don't worry about it kid."

Later I saw him going on another "walk on the beach". I wonder if she was "mature" enought to know what that really was.

After my shift I went out onto the roof patio to talk to God. I was so frustrated. He was cute. I am so stupid. Why didn't I just at least kiss him? I am such a baby! I don't understand God, it never works out for me with anyone!

Then I took a breath and was silent for awhile. I watched the late night crowd walk below. Drunk girls wheeling around. Guys grabbing them here and there. Someone throwing up in the corner. A couple screaming at each other in the middle of the street. So many guys to chose from, but I really hoped my special love wasn't down there.

"God, whoever you have for me must be really special. I keep thinking people are special, but they are never "the One". He must be really worth the wait."

Three years later I met my husband and I haven't regretted the waiting for him not one bit. And I have had my true Valentine for over ten years now. Thank God I didn't throw away being "immature" for someone who was never going to be worth it anyway.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Beyond Appearances


Today as I pondered what I wanted to say to you, I remembered this poem I wrote several years ago. So often we put on a cheerful front, and no one sees the secret sorrows that weigh upon our hearts. Though I wrote this as a self-portrait, perhaps you'll see yourself in it, too. And, if you do, perhaps you'll be reminded of the One who sees beyond all our masks to the point of our deepest need.


Beyond Appearances


She's always been
the kind who
jumps right in,
feet first,
gung ho,
lets go,
and come what may,
she's always been
the one to seize the day.

She never tests
the waters,
for she knows
that those
who do
seldom jump.

And so she grabs life
by the tail,
And she sets sail.

People see her as the one
who's always laughing,
living, dancing,
having fun.
And envying her joie de vivre,
they all believe
her life is free of care or woe--
even those who know
the wound she bears.

Time, they say,
heals everything.
Surely time and
countless kindnesses
have covered over
sorrow's sore
and seeping scar.

But no.
The wound remains.
And when she's
all alone
she sometimes
feels it like
the day her heart first broke.
Then she remembers
Him who spoke.

Falling on her knees
she sees
once again
a million mercies
crashing in.
She breathes an air
more fair,
and hears a voice
so still
and yet so strong,
she longs
to stay
until the pain is gone.

Sorrow is a faithful friend
for in the end,
she guides us to
the place where we
belong.


Whatever guide He sends your way, may the path always lead Home.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Home Sweet Home


I wanted to kiss the ground when I climbed off the airplane, but it would only be carpet and that would just be dumb. By the time I got outside where there was real concrete, the desire to kiss anything but my family was gone.

Home sweet home.

Dorothy said it in the classic, The Wizard of Oz. "There's no place like home, no place like home, no place like home."

I'm used to being away from home. I travel once a month to hang out with parents or teens at conferences and such, but this wasn't a weekend trip. It was 10 days.

Ten very long days.

The funny thing is that before I left I was itching to live somewhere else. Muskogee, Oklahoma is a city/country type of place with big-city problems like meth and poverty, but without the big-city advantages like cool restaurants, museums, or places to hang out.

When I received the call to hang out with a family member who was sick, I was glad to go. I would get to hang out with my nephews and nieces (who I adore), AND I would get to soak in the Rockies and play in the snow, something we don't have much of in Oklahoma.

On the 3rd day homesickness started to creep in with greedy fingers. It wasn't that my nephews and nieces weren't amazing, but I missed the things I normally took for granted. I also missed the tight-knit closeness of my own family.

By the 9th day I was ready to kick it all to the curb and find my way home.

When I was growing up, home was a hard place to be. In the place I stayed for 9 days, those childhood patterns continued and that was the overwhelming reason that I saw the beauty of what I left behind.

Home sweet home.

Even Muskogee, Oklahoma with all its problems. Yes, we have poverty that must be dealt with, but we also have warm, amazing people whom I call my friends. Yes, we have a drug problem, but we have people who care about the problem and who are trying to help. Nope, no real entertainment venues, but we have gorgeous lakes and green hills and camping grounds, and besides the big stuff is less than an hour away.

Do you ever take home for granted? I guess I have. Why don't you take a minute and tell your mom or dad or even your pesky little brother or sister that you love them. Kiss your dog. Call your best friend who lives two doors down and tell her hello. Look around your city and see what it is that makes it home -- sweet home -- for you.

Suzie

Friday, February 03, 2006

The End of the Spear

I went to see The End of the Spear today. I went with a friend of mine who is a full time missionary to a muslim nation that was formally part of the Soviet Union. She home doing some language training.
Have you heard of this movie? It is fantastic. It is the tale of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and three missionaries who were killed as they made first contact with a fierce tribe in the Amazon basin.
There were several powerful lines in the movie, but I don't want to spoil it for you. The most amazing thing was when the sister and widows of the murdered missionaries went into the jungle and lived with these people.
It isn't a fun movie. But it is a feel-good movie. There are moments of humor, and there are also those moments when you want to cry. But in the end, you know that God is real. His message works to change people. And you want to be one of the ones he changes.

On a side note, it is good to go to movies like Chronicles of Narnia and The End of the Spear. We need to send a message to the people who make movies that good, uplifting movies make money too. People like us want to see stories that make us think and move closer to God. The only way some of these people will understand that is if they see the profits.
Sad, but true.
There were three teen girls sitting directly in front of me. After the movie, I spoke with them for a moment. This isn't just an old fuddy-duddies' movie. This movie is for you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Let Me See Ya Grill

A girl's provocative voice was asking a rapper to show her his "grill." It didn't sound good, whatever it was. Probably another pseudonym for a body part, I thought, feeling alienated yet again from pop culture.

But I mustered some energy to power up my laptop and find out exactly what this song was about. Apparently, grills have been around for over a decade, sported at first by hustlers and pimps. As with many things in hip-hop culture, the trend has spread into high schools around the country. Madonna and Johnny Depp both wore them to the Academy Awards. While grills have mostly been worn by guys, a new trend is for girls to wear them to their proms. (A side note is that they're causing teeth decay and dentists are alarmed.)

The entire meaning of the song changed once I knew the rapper wasn't talking about body parts but about bling for his teeth. When I looked up the lyrics, I realized that while the rapper was still commanding his listeners to rob jewelry stores and using innuendo, the song wasn't 1/10th as sexually charged as I'd feared.

Another fifteen-minute episode in my life as an alien in the foreign land of pop culture. I learned — again — not to judge something there without taking the time to understand it. Not that I'm getting a grill made for myself or anything — I wear my bling in my ears and on my ring finger, thank you very much.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"The Best Time to Write Is In the Morning"

Here's the next in 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 #2 is "The best time to write is in the morning." What do you think? Is that a truth or a myth?

Well, I don't think this one is too hard. I say that's a MYTH. But it's certainly something important to consider, as I've heard people declare this many times from a platform or the front of a classroom. Why are people emphatic about saying such things? Because it works for them.

The truth is, when you work best depends on the writer. Some of us are morning people. Others of us are night owls. Others of us have spouses at work and kids at school and about the only time we can write is in the middle of the day.

The secret is to find the best time to write for you. For me, it's between 10:30am-2:30pm each day. Those four hours I get my most work done. My attitude is the most hopeful, my brain is the most creative and I get a short break for lunch right in the middle of it. :)

So don't let anyone tell you what your best time for writing should be...discover it for yourself. Then, when that time hits each day, don't let anything interrupt it! That is your prime time and you must guard it like a rabid dog. :)

Until next time--enjoy writing!

Chris

Christopher Maselli
TruthPop.com

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