Sunday, April 30, 2006

Blue

I wasn't surprised that blue is associated with depth because, after all, the sky and ocean are blue. Well, sometimes the sky is blue, and in some places, the ocean is blue. But blue also symbolizes stability, and neither the sky nor the ocean can be counted on to be stable. Just think hurricane or tornado.

Ah! but also on the list is Heaven. Blue symbolizes Heaven. Now there I can see a clear relationship to depth AND stability.

Physically, blue has demonstrated a positive effect on the mind and body. Certain shades of blue causes human metabolism to slow and calms aggitated individuals.

When I think of the promise that God has given His children,--that we will go to Heaven, a place He has prepared for us--I breath in peace and exhale worries. All of our troubles here are fleeting in comparison to the wonders and glory of being in the presence of our Lord and Savour for eternity.

Next time I get aggitated as I sit in traffic, I'm going to turn my eyes to the blue of the sky and remember a permanent vacation spot called Heaven where I have not only a room reserved, but a whole house. Yes! I can see how that would lower my blood pressure as well as my metabolism.


A footnote to the info on the meaning of the color blue said not to use blue when cooking and serving food, because blue suppresses appetite. In the name of perpetual dieting, I think I'll go out and buy blue dishes, blue glasses, blue tablecloths, blue napkins, blue candles in blue candleholders, and a blue flower arrangement. Painting the table, chairs, and walls blue might help as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Are you an adult?

What is adulthood? When do you reach it? Will a certificate drop from the heavens and declare you "mature" when it happens?

Culture gives a definition. In fact, several. Check this out.

If you are 16, you can drive--so you must be an adult. If you are 12, you have to pay the adult price to eat at the buffet--so you must be an adult. If you are 18, you can vote--so you must be an adult. If you are 21 you can drink--so you must be an adult. In some states if you commit a crime, you can be charged as an adult as young as 16--so you must be an adult.

Confused? Me, too!

If adulthood is defined by driving, eating, voting, committing a crime, or drinking, no wonder it's confusing.

Adulthood actually begins fairly early, just about the time that your body begins the process of adulthood.

Really? Then why hasn't anybody mentioned that before?

Because we get confused and think that adulthood is about outward actions or some "special" event -- like the day you can not only drive, but drink and drive. That's just messed up.

Adulthood a journey that you begin. It's assuming leadership. It's making decisions that are spiritually sound. It's growing up in your faith.

Check out what the Bible says:

Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.

This is a cool verse from Hebrews 5:13-14 written for people who were still drinking milk (living as a child spiritually) when God was calling them to be men and women of God.

Adulthood is growing through God's word, and with the help and power of the Holy Spirit to choose good over evil, to have the courage to act on the good, and to take responsibility for your actions.

I know a lot of 35 year olds who are still drinking milk, and yet I've met teens all over the nation who are spiritually mature and who are already on the journey to adulthood.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Human Obedience

I took my dog to a her first obedience training class last night. It was the first time I have ever gone to one of these - I grew up with Engligh Springer Spaniels and none of our dogs really needed any training. We mostly just tripped over them. We adopted a Weimeraner (the gray dogs that get photographed in people's clothing) named Darla late last year and she's a bit more energetic that any dog I've ever owned, hence the obedience training. That and she doesn't come when she's called, is scared of her own shadow and generally doesn't listen to anything we say.

So I'm standing around a padded room with a bunch of dogs and their owners trying to get Darla to sit. She seemed really confused and terrfied by the whole thing. We didn't really do very good at it and they were already working on "down" while I was still trying to get her to sit. She didn't even really care about the treats I was trying to bribe her with. I felt like I was the one being trained - not her.

And that got me thinking about about our relationship with God. Sometimes we Christians can begin to act like trained dogs. We are so busy "doing" all of the things that we think God wants from us - praying, worshipping, reading the Bible, etc. - that we forget God just wants us to be with Him. He's not out to have us jump through some hoop or do some trick to say "Look what I got her to do." and pop a treat in our mouths for doing all those things. Nope, He's in this because He loves us, He wants to know us and He wants us to know Him. Sometimes we do get rewarded. He loves to bless His children. But other times I think He wants knowing Him to be our reward.

So the next time you find yourself "doing" something for God, ask yourself why. Are you doing it because you just want to love on Him, or are you doing it hoping for that reward to pop in your mouth? I know I've been guilty of thinking that if I want God to bless me I have to do all sorts of things to earn His blessing. But it just doesn't work that way.

And I for one, am really glad it doesn't. It's awfully nice to know that even if I mess everything up - He's still going to love me - and He's never going to let me go.

Now if only I could get Darla to actually sit.

For Guys Only: How To Win A Girl's Heart

We Daughters of Eve were designed by our Maker to relate. Which means that (brace yourselves for the shock) most of us like to T-A-L-K about ideas, emotions, and of course, relationships. This may seem overwhelming to guys who are used to bonding conversationally over stuff like techno-toys, sports, and eventually, barbecues.

So how do you talk to that girl you like? How do you get her to want to spend more time with you? That's a no-brainer: Ask questions. And then use those crucial non-verbals to show that you're listening -- eye contact, nodding, occasional sounds like "mmmmm" and "yeah," to show that you're fascinated. Wondering what to ask? Here are some possibilities:
  • Cheer me up, (her name goes here -- girls like to hear their own names spoken by guys in conversation). What's been the high point of your week?
  • I've been stressed out lately, (name). What do you do when you want to relax?
  • How's your relationship with God going?
  • Who's easier to talk to, your Mom or your Dad? Why?
I could go on forever, but part of your job as husband-in-training is brainstorming great questions that will make your wife-to-be feel cherished. So go for it -- I guarantee you that a guy who asks questions and listens is WAY more attractive than any buff jock or intellectual coffee-drinker who drones on about himself.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Chewing Ice


I have a really bad habit of chewing ice. I've been told not to and I continued to do it. At least until recently. I cracked my tooth while chewing ice. Today the dentist explain how to fix my tooth. It's only going to take time, money and pain. Bummer. I have to wonder why I continued to do something that I knew I shouldn't. Chewing ice isn't the only bad habit I have. Sometimes I overeat. Occasionally I gossip. Why? Lack of self-control. I know the Fruits of the Spirit - and one of them is Self-Control. This is something I will work on. With His help. I think I'll go get a glass of ice water - and not chew the ice. ***Did you know that chewing ice is sometimes a symptom of anemia?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

With this ring . . .


This morning I'm attending a bridal shower for a young woman who is marrying one of my son's friends. I watched him grow up, and now he's 21 and getting married. It seems so young! But I was 21 when I got married, too. That was almost 27 years ago, and by God's grace we've survived, raised three kids, and accomplished some good stuff. We even like each other. A lot.

In fact, today is also my husband's birthday. Birthdays and anniversaries always make me think back over all that's happened through the years. Lots of joy. Lots of heartbreak. Always God's tender hand guiding, helping, healing. Marriage is an amazing adventure, but it's also hard, hard work. It teaches selflessness. And it teaches prayer.

I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday, and he didn't want anything. So I wrote a poem for him. He cried when he read it. Here's what I wrote:

Happy Birthday, George

To count the ways I love thee
Will take a little time
(Especially since I've set my sites
On counting them in rhyme)
It started many years ago
With feelings set to song--
Our hearts were young and innocent,
Our hair was rather long.
You said we should get married,
And I said that sounded grand,
So we skipped to ever after
Side by side and hand in hand.

I've loved you in the kitchen
With loaves of homemade bread.
I've loved you in our conflicts
And I've loved you in our bed.
I loved you in your wilderness,
A love spent on my knees;
I loved you in the laughter
Of a thousand victories.
I've loved you in our children
With a love as strong as death,
And I know that love will persevere
Until my final breath.
But . . .

To count the ways you've loved me
Would take a million words.
If I counted till the day I died,
The half would not be heard.
My love is merely moonlight--
A reflection of your sun
As I bask in awe and wonder
Of the two becoming one.
A soul may reach for depth and height,
The ends of ideal grace--
But my soul will rest securely
In the warmth of your embrace.

We've climbed the hill together
And my heart is very sure
The love we've built along the way
Is love that will endure--
Not due to our great wisdom
Or the power of our hands,
But because we know the Builder
And we trust His master plans.
May you sense His tender presence
As you start another year
Counting ways I love thee.
Happy Birthday, dear.


If you're a teen reading this, there's a good chance you hope to marry some day. If you haven't started praying for your future spouse, start now. When God builds the house, it's possible to love for a lifetime. Yes, it's an uphill climb. But it's so worth the effort.

I'll be praying for my young friend and his bride. And I'll be praying for you, too.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Green, Green, my love is Green

Green abounds in spring and summer, clothing much of nature and providing the backdrop for both simple blooms and elaborate flowers. No wonder it symbolizes fertility and growth, harmony and freshness.
Now I don't know if they can prove this with clinical studies, but many say green has great healing power. Some even go so far as to say it's the most restful color for the human eye, and can even improve vision. My mother told me it was orange carrots that improved vision. Was she wrong?
Green lights mean go.
Evergreens symbolize everlasting life.
Dark green implies ambition, greed, and jealousy.
Yellow-green indicates sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
Aqua promotes emotional healing.
Olive green is the traditional color of peace. (the olive branch?) But soldiers wear it.

For years I didn't like green because a well-meaning lady in church told me I should never wear green because it positively made me look sick.

I looked at the list of things associated with green on a website mainly because I had found the connection of colors to these odd things kind of fascinating. I still do. But how much is fact and how much is fancy.
I think researchers could possibly prove that one shade of green is healthier than another if you needed to paint every room in a hospital a beneficial color.
But I also think that one day a very bored person could say, "Green clothing indicates whether or not a person likes dogs." It would be like the old rumor game. "Did you know if a person wears a lot of green, that person likes dogs?" "I heard somewhere that dog-owners have lots of green clothing in their closets."
"It is an established fact that those who feel an affinity toward canines also prefer to wear shades of green."

Some of the green trivia is probably based on fact, and some is cultural adaptations (In some countries, exit signs are green, and in others, they are red.), and some is pure foolishness.

Do you ever ponder over what you've heard and wondered how valid a statement is?

Several verses in the Bible tell us to do this. And when someone makes a statement that he or she claims to be from God, we need to be very discerning.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

What is the best way to handle new information, whether it be about the color green or the characteristics of our Heavenly Father?
Check it out. Don't be gullible. Seek answers from those you trust.

Dreams and Dream Stealers

Tonight I listened to a beautiful young woman talk about her dreams. She's on her way to graduate school. She's working interim with the Department of Human Services, making a difference in the lives of children. She's always wanted to be a counselor. One day she will achieve that goal, those hopes.

I listened to another girl today. A girl I believe in. A girl for which I fear.

Why? Because she's lost sight of her dreams.

She's had to work hard to dream those dreams. Her mom has battled drugs her whole life. Her step-father committed suicide. Her dad is sometimes in her life, but mostly not.

In spite of her challenges, she's got so much going on. She's fun. She's talented. She can draw. She writes songs that I think are amazing. She plays the guitar. She's a good friend.

She loves God.
Sometimes.
Sometimes she hates him.

In that struggle she turns to other things. Things that robbed her mom of her dreams. She turns to people who really don't care for her, who drag her down emotionally and spiritually, but say all the right things, helping her forget her pain for a moment. She turns to sex coz it makes her feel loved, all wrapped up in a man's arms, though she's only a young girl. She turns to drugs coz it takes away the pain, though not long enough and nothings solved once it ebbs.

I wish she could see how unoriginal the enemy is, and how he tosses out a tattered blueprint for her life -- follow this, it worked for others, now it will work for you.

She's holding a hand-me-down destiny, when God wants to dream with her.

I talked with her today, and told her about the dream stealer. I don't know if she'll listen. I pray she does because the blueprint for her life is far greater than the one she's following at the moment.

Will you pray for my friend?

Suzie

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Don't Expect to Make Six Figures"

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 if you're thinking about writing as a career or just for fun.

So #6 is "Don't expect to make six figures." What do you think? Is that a truth or a myth?

This is a myth. You can easily make six figures writing. I have several friends who have no problem pulling these kinds of numbers yearly. But here's the rub: you probably won't be writing all stuff that you want to write.

And you probably won't be only a novelist, unless all your books are best-sellers (most of ours aren't).

To make a decent writing income--let alone six figures--most writers become a jack-of-all-trades. We write what we want to write, sure, but then we also write a bunch of stuff we would have never come up with on our own, just to pay the bills or get some extra cash.

I consider myself a novelist and have written a bunch of books, mostly for kids, middle-graders and teens. But the remainder of my time is spent writing magazine articles, marketing pieces for companies, letters, reviews and more. I also find myself speaking at schools or conferences sometimes not only to share things I've learned, but also to help the cash flow. This is the reality of the writing life.

Some people feel they can't write anything outside of their calling or they'll be missing God. But I don't think that's the way to look at it. I think it's just fine to write in a variety of mediums, so you can comfortably afford to do some of the work you know God's called you to do. After all, for me for instance, writing children's material might not pay many bills, but writing marketing pieces does...which affords me the time and comfort I need to write the best children's material I can. Make sense?

What do you think? Do you want to be a writer? What do you see yourself writing and are you open to writing other things along the way?

Until next time--enjoy writing!

Chris

Christopher Maselli
TruthPop.com

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What Do You Do With What Threatens You?

One of the perks of my job is that I get to read several books before they are ever released in bookstores. A few weeks ago, I read a book by friend Sarah Bragg that is being released in June (I highly recommend it).

In Body. Beauty. Boys. Sarah said something that really stuck out to me. “Make a habit of celebrating publicly what threatens you privately,” she said. Wise words we could all do good to live by. In my interactions with Sarah I have seen this practice to be true in her life. Her authenticity is part of what makes the statement so profound.

What about you? If you are anything like me, I am sure the last thing you want to do when something someone else does threatens you is go out and celebrate it. But why is that? What is so hard about celebrating other people and their success?

Because of things as simple as getting an “A” on a test or getting asked to the prom, people turn on us. And we turn on them. We act as if someone else’s good news is our bad news even if their good news really doesn’t affect us much at all.

We don’t just want to be our best. We want to be the best. And if someone else is at his or her best, it doesn’t matter if we are at our best too. Their best threatens our best and we freak out.

You might be reading this thinking that you can relate more to being the one who gets turned on rather than the one who turns on others. But I would venture to say that all of us have spent a fair amount of time on both sides of the equation.

So this week do something to change that. Celebrate publicly what threatens you privately. And don’t be fake about it. That cancels out the whole thing. If your friend scores higher on a test than you do, then genuinely congratulate her—even if she is being a brat and gloating about the whole thing.

Other people’s actions and reactions are not our responsibility, but we are accountable for ourselves. So even when others choose to do you wrong, take it in stride and respond by doing what is right.

And remember, someone else’s success is not a personal attack on you. It’s simply his or her way of living life the way it was meant to be lived—at his or her best. So instead of getting emotional about it, raise the bar in your life and go out there and live life at your best too.

Friday, April 14, 2006

What's So Good about Good Friday?


“I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you....that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, [and] that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1,3-4 (NIV)

Today, people all around the world are celebrating Good Friday. Businesses are closed and, in some cases, school is out. Yet, when I was younger I used to wonder what was so "Good" about it. I mean Jesus died a horrible death . . . are we supposed to celebrate that?

As I grew older, I came to realize that the "good" part of Good Friday is what I received out of the deal.

Before I accepted Christ at age seventeen, I was empty, lonely, and fearful. I was pregnant and alone. I had no hope for the future.

Today, I have family, friends, and a writing career, but even more than that--I have Christ. He fills me with joy, guides my steps, and strengthens me to live in this confusing world. He has given me hope.

What about you? Have you taken time to think about your life and where you're headed? Good Friday is a great time to ponder this. Because what happened on this day thousands of years ago can profoundly impact your life too.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Always in need of a little time out

I spent six days in Hood River Oregon, attending an intensive writers workshop. It is the first time I had gone to such a retreat, and I have already scheduled another for next year.
Of course, I could say that being in that beautiful Columbia River Gorge country was inspiring. I could point to the excellent teaching and say that is what put the experience over the top. Rubbing elbows with other serious writers was also a plus.
But I think really, the biggie was the time out.
When my grandsons blow their cool, get too intensely involved in having their own way that they just go bonkers, we send them to time out. A quiet, still place to recover a sense of equanimity. That's a big word for being even tempered under stress.
I recognize I am not too old to be sent to time out. I needed the break from routine, the chance to focus on one thing, to see what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong, and to detemine to stay in a state of tranquility even under stress. And to recognize Who gives me the peace I need.
It was a secular seminar so I imagine quite a few people didn't pull from the experience the overwhelming awe of God that sets me on a firm foundation.
But I came away glad that my heavenly Father called Time Out.
Need a time out? Take it!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Is More Better?

I go shopping and buy things I didn’t even know I needed until the advertisements arrived in the Sunday paper. There are newsletters telling me how to be “clutter-free”. I am working on it. I am on a mission to “de-stuff” my life. Just what exactly is stuff? It is the non-essential possessions that clutter our houses and our lives.
The world’s philosophy is displayed on the T-shirt that says, “He who dies with the most toys, wins”. Solomon talked of this subject in Ecclesiastes and assured us that we’ll leave it all behind. Like another T-shirt says, “Whoever dies with the most toys still dies”. Is more better? Not necessarily.
The reality is that we leave it all here when we die. Everything from our toothbrush to our money. One woman was buried in her expensive car. Egyptians had make-up, riches, food, and even servants buried with them in hope of being rich in the afterlife. Reality check. Naked you came into the world and naked you go out. It all stays.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. Timothy 6:6,7

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Uncomplicated Faith

This morning I was in my college class called DEEP. We've been in an intense study called, "Becoming What God Intended". It is a study that helps you clearly understand what it means to be a child of God.

As we dug deep in the Bible, my friend Sarah said something that was so simple, and yet so profound:
It's not what you do that makes you His, but what He has already done.

I wrote that in my Bible.

I need to remember that because as much as I love God, and as much as I understand and grasp the simplicity of the gospel, sometimes I forget that God loves me just for me -- not for my ministry or my efforts or even my passion for my faith.

When I grasp that truth, it sloughs off all the things that complicate faith. I follow Christ because I'm his girl. Following him takes me to high places, and sometimes into places of absolute trust and obedience, and sometimes through open doors I'd never attempt on my own.

It's not always easy following him to those places, but it's a great deal easier than trying to figure it out by creating my "how to earn God's favor today" list.

Thanks to my friend Sarah for hitting it on the head.

Thank you to my Father for loving his girl,

Suzie

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

For Girls Only: Chatting Up A Shy Guy

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are lots of guys out there who love to talk. But if you're trying to spark a conversation with one who's the shy, silent type, try this. If he doesn't talk face-to-face like the guy in the photo, figure out a way to watch him play computer games at a youth group event or someplace like that. Make one or two admiring comments as he defeats zombies or makes virtual baskets ("Wow" or "Hey, you're good"), and toss out one of these questions:
  1. Do you think people should use their savings to buy an XBox360 now instead of waiting till November for a first generation PS3?
  2. Is it easier to watch a feature-length movie on a PSP handheld or an iPod?
  3. When it comes to laptops, would you go for a Dell or an Apple?
  4. Which action-adventure flick is going to make the most money at the box office: XMen3, MI3, or Superman Returns?
  5. Who do you think deserves to earn the most money? MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL players? What about NASCAR drivers or pro golfers?
  6. Cell phone plans: Sprint, Cingular, or Verizon? Why?
  7. Which movie actually might be funny when it comes out: Benchwarmers (Jon Heder, Rob Schneider and David Spade), Nacho Libre (Jack Black) or Talladega Nights (Will Farrell)?
Don't worry about distracting him from the game; I'm pretty sure he's good at multi-tasking. Asking for advice or an opinion is a time-honored get-him-to-talk strategy that's been proven to work with taciturn guys of all ages. It's worth a try, anyway. (My next post is for guys only, so stay tuned ... )

Monday, April 03, 2006

Manicure Anyone?

Have you ever noticed that we live in a society that promotes instant gratification? I mean, come on, standing in line for five minutes at Starbucks is about as painful as it gets for some people.

Just yesterday I read an article in a popular women’s magazine about the new “Instant Manicure.” Apparently for a mere eight dollars you can now purchase “Sixteen super-thin, chip-resistant strips of pre-melted and pre-dried nail polish and top coat.” Simply take a strip place it on your nail up against your cuticle and smooth it down. Bend it over the edge of your nail, and then tear off the excess and there you go—instant manicure! No dry time, not wait and most importantly no smudges.

I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely disturbing that we live in a society that provides alternatives for those of us who cannot seem to find the time to paint our own nails.

Last time I checked patience was still one of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. But I don’t know if most of us could be patient if we tried. When was the last time you had to wait for something you really wanted?

And more importantly, when was the last time you had to wait for something you really needed? Chances are, at least here in America, there has always been a meal handy when you needed it. Clothing hasn’t been in any short supply. And depending on where you live, the roof over your head could be costing your parents close to half a million dollars.

Since your life experiences may not be teaching you much about the virtue of patience, do yourself a favor and look for ways you can teach yourself a little patience this week. Purposely choose the longer line when you go to the store—and don’t complain about it. Hang on to your cash a little longer instead of purchasing that new CD you really want to buy, but will probably only listen to once or twice. Or better yet, take that money and give it away to someone who really needs it. Wear what’s in your closet instead of rushing out to buy into yet another latest and greatest trend.

And most importantly, spend a little time practicing patience by waiting on God. Grab a notebook, a pen and your Bible and go some place quiet and just listen. Don’t bring any music. Turn your cell phone off. And wait and see what God just might tell you when you finally make the time to listen. Practice the art of patience this week.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools! . . . or not

What if you got a call today from a lawyer? Immediately you would think it was an April Fool's joke.

"A relative has named you as heir. You have a mansion with your name on the deed and your needs will be taken care of for the rest of forever!"

April Fools!

Or not . . .

Galatians 3:29 says, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”

That’s so cool! We are heirs. And according to that promise, and according to our position in Christ, we're blessed. We simply have to reap the rewards.

Today, I let my mind wander on this idea of being an heir. Last year, one of my husband’s co-workers had a grandfather who passed away, and the grandson was an heir. Soon he was driving a new car and had purchased a few new, electronic “toys.”

Of course, then there is the “famous” Paris Hilton. The girl just happened to be born into a wealthy family and she’s getting more attention from the media than the chemists who are working on the cure for cancer. That puts things in perspective by how heirs are treated on this earth, but here are a few more verses about what’s in store for heirs of God:

Galatians 4:6-7 says, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

Eph 3:5-6 says, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

And finally, James 2:5 says, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Personally, in my natural family, my heritage is from a family that is wealthy in love, by poor in money or possessions. (I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

But spiritually, I have Paris Hilton beat! I’m rejoicing today that I’m an heir in line to inherit God’s kingdom. The kingdom of the Creator of the universe! Praise Him!

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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