Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Speaking of camping


So I think it's safe to say that Jenny doesn't like camping. Me, well I like the idea in theory, it's the actually doing it part that seems problematic.


And I blame it on being a girl.

Before we had kids, my hubby and I went on a three WEEK camping trip. Yes, you read that right. Three weeks roaming around Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. It was a fun trip (except for the Utah leg where it was way too hot for my tastes.) We went white water rafting, drove to the top of Pike's Peak and explored the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde. I saw things I never would have seen before.

But in many ways, I did it because my husband loves camping. I mean, loves it. The man willingly goes outside to do...anything that takes place outdoors.

We've talked about going camping lately (since I refused to consider it while the kids were too little). They are older now, and even interested in going. Going camping on your own is one thing, but going camping with three kids is another thing altogether.
You see, I have this thing about hygiene, and making sure they are clean. And I worry about ticks and bugs and sunburns. I would have to plan out and buy everything that we would eat and that just takes a lot of effort. So between my worry and the amount of pre-planning involved, we've just never gotten around to actually doing it.
We spent all day at a state park this weekend. The kids splashed in the river, went fishing and my 4-year old even caught a fish. We went hunting for shark's teeth on "fossil beach" (my hubby found 4) and hiked in the woods. But the coolest part? When we were all done, we came home and I got to take a long, hot shower. I can enjoy nature and all of that, but at the end of the day, that shower is pretty awesome.
I really like hot showers. I mean, a hot shower makes me feel undying gratitude towards God that I live in a time and place where I can enjoy central air and indoor plumbing. And frankly, when I have those things, I'm a much nicer person to be around. If I had to go without all those creature comforts, I would survive. But why go without them if you really don't have to? Go out, enjoy nature, and then come home to that aforementioned shower. It seems like a good plan to me.
So after a very hot, very sandy, very dirty day at the state park, I found myself very grateful. And being grateful to God, even if it is for things like a couch to sit on and a bathroom to get clean in, is always a good thing. We have what we have because of God. And as long as we don't lose sight of the Giver of all things, I think God still loves those of us who prefer to shower every day. And enjoy nature in our own way.
So to Jenny and all you non-campers out there, I say, God still loves you! Excuse me now, though, I'm feeling the need to go and take a shower.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I Will Be Silent No Longer

Camping—the great American pastime—especially on three day weekends. I tried to find the percentage of Americans who camp over Memorial Day, but came up with nothing. But here’s my statistic: A whole stinking lot of ‘em—that’s how many citizens of the US of A are camping right now.

Seventy-five people from my church, including friends and friends of friends, are camping right now. I abstained. Gave them the shut out. Exercised my God-given free will and elected not to go.

And though I’m now a little sad that half the state of Arkansas is camping together and no doubt having a grand old time without me, I know it is for the best.

I. Do NOT like to CAMP.

There.

I said it.

I don’t.

I’ve done my time. Tangoed with mosquitoes. Burnt marshmallows over a roaring fire. Got steamed like a bag of rice while sleeping in a tent in the summer heat. Or held on for dear life as the wind swayed my camper in a storm, and prayed that God’s glorious surrounding pines wouldn’t smash my shelter like a Coke can.

My friends and church-mates go camping every year. And part of their pre-camping preparations include harassing me for days at a time about my lack of participation. We campless ones are an unspoken minority in this land of the free. I will not tolerate it anymore. Campless ones, unite! My name is Jennifer Jones, and I do not like to camp. I don’t like to rough it. And I don’t like peeing over a hole. Naysayers, you harassers of innocent non-campers, stand down. We will not take it anymore.

Since I am not partying it up lakeside, I had the time to compile a list of reasons you, too, can use if you find yourself discriminated against. Use them with my blessing and sympathy.

Excuses to give for not camping: (For maximum effectiveness, please utter statements below with fierce face and stern voice.)

1. “The existence of Big Foot is still up in the air, and given the fact that your last boyfriend/girlfriend kind of resembled him, I really don’t want to risk it. He/She could be following your scent.”

2. “When campsite toilets flush and have soap, then I’ll consider it.”

3. “Sleeping in a sleeping bag is just an open invitation to skunks to invade the tent. Spray me now, while I’m wrapped up like a burrito and rendered immobile.”

4. “I have no place to plug in my flatiron.”

5. “You want me to bathe where???

6. “Because I’d rather stay home and read___________.” (Insert name of really big, intimidating book here. I recommend: War and Peace, The Odyssey, the complete works of Shakespeare, or The Bible—in Hebrew.)

7. “No, I don’t want a hot dog. I know what they’re made of.”

8. “The Israelites camped for 40 years. I owe it to them, as their descendent, not to make that 40 years and one night. Newsflash: The promised land was found. And it now has electricity.”

9. I find the quality of toilet paper in the Johnny-on-the-Spot abrasive. I insist on two-ply!”

10. “Do you hear that noise? That’s the sound of a mosquito giving me West Nile. Are you happy now?”

You get the idea. Come up with a few on your own, but take heart, shunners of the camp ground. It is OKAY to not want to camp. It’s OKAY not to WANT to sleep with rocks sticking in unmentionable places. It’s OKAY not to want to wake up in the middle of the night, sweating in your Artic-ready sleeping bag, convulsing in a panic because you can’t unzip yourself and get free to breathe.

While we shall still show compassion and mercy on those who choose to stay the night surrounded by nature, we will no longer be silent victims.

That is all. Oh, but if you aren’t camping this weekend, do take some time to remember that it’s not just a three day weekend—three days off from work or school. It’s also a national holiday. Memorial Day is a great time to avoid a sweaty tent, but also to take some time to thank God for this country, our service men and women, and to pray for guidance and protection for our national leaders and troops. Our troops are fighting for our freedom—yes, even our freedom NOT to camp.

Happy Memorial Day. Be blessed and give thanks.
Jen
(Cross posted from jennybjones.blogspot.com)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Potato Salad and Pool Parties


It’s Memorial Day weekend, and you know what that means – the official start to summer! Okay, okay, I know there are still a few more weeks of school left. But the weather is warm and the BBQ smoke is in the air. For some reason, things just seem more hopeful, more joyful, when summer begins. It’s the payback for a sometimes long winter.

That’s how life seems sometimes, doesn’t it? The tough things, the sad things, the things that seem like hard work drag on for a long time. But the truth of it is, sooner or later, the trouble is over and life looks brighter again. Fun things are on your horizon. The sun has returned and good times are coming. It helps to remember that during the darker months.

While we sometimes wish that things were always easy, we know that’s not true. But it’s equally not true that everything will remain hard forever. So next time you have a cloudy day, either outside, or inside your heart, remember that summer’s coming. Get out your bathing suit, just to be ready, and to look forward with hope and a smile.

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planning and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Genesis 8:22

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pretty Little Dutch Girl


One day, when I was a six-year-old first grader at William L. Cabel Elementary School in North Dallas, our music teacher, Mrs. Adams, marched the whole class into the auditorium and sat us on the first two rows. I remember how tiny I felt in that cavernous room with its towering ceiling and wide stage hidden behind a curtain that looked to be at least two stories high.

The folding wooden seats dwarfed my classmates and me, our feet sticking straight out as though to parade our assortment of scuffed hush puppies and mary janes, like a squirming display in a second-hand shoe store.

Mrs. Adams stood in front of us and pointed out the auditorium's features. Then she said, "Would anyone like to go up on stage and perform?"

I'm fascinated by the ways confidence, self-awareness, fear, and ambition develop in young souls--how the praise or criticism of significant adults helps to shape self-image. In my life I've fluctuated up and down the self-consciousness scale, at times eager to take the spotlight, at others mortified at the very thought. That day in first grade was one of the eager times. My hand shot up.

Mrs. Adams led me backstage and out to the middle of a vast, polished hardwood expanse where I stood alone, a tiny slip of humanity in a sleeveless dress, white anklets, and sensible suede oxford shoes, my long blond hair pulled into a pony tail. I can still see the dusky darkness, the thick folds of the closed curtain, the thin line of light peeking under it. I can still feel the thrill of waiting for the curtain to part and the quickening of my heart as it did.

Of course, having arrived at school that morning not knowing this day would mark my theatrical debut, I hadn't prepared anything in advance. I can only assume it was a stroke of artistic genius that I decided on the spot to sing, "I am a Pretty Little Dutch Girl."

The curtain jolted to a stop and swung gently several times before settling. I scanned the faces of my audience, cleared my throat, and sang.

I am a pretty little Dutch girl
As pretty as pretty can be
And all the boys on the baseball team
Go crazy over me.

I have a boyfriend Tommy
Who likes to eat salami
With a pickle on his nose
And strawberry toes
And this is the way my story goes.

One day as I was walking
I heard my boyfriend talking
To a pretty little girl
With a strawberry curl
And this is what he said to her.

I L-O-V-E love you
I K-I-S-S kiss you
I K-I-S-S kiss you
On your F-A-C-E face, face, face.


I curtsied to the sound of thunderous applause. (Okay, so it was only as thunderous as twenty first graders and one teacher can muster.) My classmates were probably as impressed with my spelling skills as my singing ability. I stood there a little longer, basking in the moment. Then the curtain began its journey back across the front of the stage, shutting out my public, returning me to the dusky reality of my ordinary life.

There was a boy in my class named Tommy. When I'd sung the line with his name, I'd looked straight at him, and he'd grinned at me, crinkling his freckled nose. I'd grinned back, feeling not the least bit of awkwardness. I don't remember anything else about Tommy. Not his last name. Not a single other incident when I noticed his presence in my life. Ours was a brief romance based on a line in a song and lasting only until the curtain closed again. But I remember what it felt like to meet his eyes, to sing my song and be accepted. Would I be someone different today if he'd stuck out his tongue instead?

Perhaps it's insignificant. Perhaps it's huge. I honestly don't know. If nothing else, though, it reminds me that everyone needs to shine, be seen, and to see acceptance in another. We get older and more careful. Less spontaneous and free. But the curtain keeps opening, and--no matter how small we may feel--we still have to sing.

Happy singing, my friends. May your public grant you the thunderous applause you deserve, simply because you're God's masterpiece.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What One Teen Can Do

One of the things that I love to do at Real Teen Faith is to talk about teens who are making a difference in the world. I ran across this quote the other day:


"I'm just a normal 12-year-old who's trying to live his life, shining for Jesus and do what I've been called to do by the Bible. Any other kid [can do this], all they've got to have is a passion and let Jesus ‘do his thing'." Austin Gutwein

What did he do? What is he saying that anyone can do?


He raised nearly a hundred thousand dollars through his foundation called Hoops of Hope, which will be used to build a school for AIDS orphans in Africa. This is an article excerpt written about Austin and Hoops of Hope at Pastors.com.


Pastors.com/Ministry Toolbox
12-year-old makes dream of providing school for AIDS orphans a realityby Allison Cox

After raising more than $35,000 in December 2006 to help HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa, 12-year-old Austin Gutwein heard his dad, Dan, promise that if he raised more than $100,000 through his Hoops of Hope organization, Dan would take him to Africa.

Austin better pack his bags.


The 2006 event raised nearly $60,000 that will go toward building a school in Zambia.
The school will be built in memory of Jonathan Sim, a World Vision employee whose dream of building a school for his sponsored children was not realized before his death in 2006. His wife, Kelly, was able to raise part of the money needed to fund the building. Hoops of Hope raised the additional funds needed to start construction this year.

"I think that it's going to be an awesome opportunity for us not only to share Jesus with some of the kids over in Zambia," Austin said. "But it'll be an awesome opportunity for kids to finally get the education that they've been wanting for so long."
Read the rest of the article. . .


From Suzie: Pretty awesome, isn't it? One person will impact so many. Just let someone tell me that tweens and teens aren't amazing! I love what God can do through youth (you!) to make a difference in the world.


I hope you'll check out Hoops of Hope. I hope you'll be challenged to make a difference in your world.

Birthdays on the Brain


Today is my daughter's 8th birthday. I think I'm every bit as excited about her birthday as she is. We actually had her party last Friday - her first sleepover party. We took some of her friends to Justice (a clothing store my daughter loves) where they all got their hair styled like rock stars and got their make-up and nails done as well. Then they came back to the house for pizza, ice cream cake and the sleepover.

We have always made a big deal about birthdays around here. To me, what is more exciting than celebrating the day you were delivered here by God Himself? I mean, that's pretty cool! My own birthday is December 30th. Tragically sandwiched between the brouhaha of Christmas and New Years. My birthday was always a bust. I always felt a little bit shafted, okay, who am I kidding, I felt completely neglected on my birthday. My own parents would forget! Oh yeah, didn't you have a birthday?

So perhaps that is also why I make a big deal out of my kid's birthdays. I am always careful to plan out a budget and stick to it, but I have found that a great birthday doesn't have to cost a fortune. It's really about making memories and celebrating with others. It's about making that kid feel special - simply because they are.

I don't know when your birthday is, and whether you get showered with love or forgotten, but you have to know that your birthday is very special. It was the day that God placed you here so that you could fulfill His purposes for you. You were created by God and that is cause for celebration. I can't even imagine the joy God has for us, because as a fallen parent, my heart is just full today as I think about my wonderful 8 year old girl. Wow, if I can feel so much for her, I wouldn't be able to contain the depth of God's pleasure in us. He takes pleasure in you. You are valuable simply because you are His.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I still have to go get one more birthday present for my own birthday girl today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Promise Ring

A few days ago I heard this story ...

A teen boy bought a ring for the girl he cares about. Since they both don't really believe in dating, he just wanted to find a way to share how much he cares ... and let her knows that he hopes their friendship will grow into something more in the future.

He gave her what he called a "Promise Ring." What did he promise???

This guy told this girl that he promised to love her not as men love, because that could lead them both into taking steps they're not ready for yet, including a physical relationship.

Instead, he promised, "To love you and honor you as Jesus would."

Wow, tears filled my eyes as I heard that. (Especially since the guy in this story is my 17-year-old son.) That is one great promise!

Think about the guy you are dating. Or even the guy you like. Would he make a promise to love you and to honor you (your emotions, heart, body) like Jesus would?

It's something to think about.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dreamin'


Dreams. It's a word we hear tossed about a lot. Dare to dream. Dream big!

But what if stuff gets in the way of your dreams? I'm a writer. I know that I'm exactly where God has called me to be, but I'm positive that every one of the authors on this blog will tell you what I have discovered to be true: dreams don't always happen the way we think they should.

I write. I work 40 or more hours a week. I connect with readers. I pray. I study. And yet in spite of all those "I do's", sometimes my dreams seem far, far away. I look at results and I wonder if I need to work harder, market better, or if somehow I've failed.

And yet God made me a promise. He said he'd be with me--every day, every step of the way. He said he had a plan for me, and for you, and for my friend Sarah Sumpolec and every other writer on this blog.

This is the deal. Sometimes the unveiling of dreams are made up of many pieces, like a portrait, and the ups and downs of achieving those dreams are part of the fulfillment. God is with me when I hit the brick walls of the publishing world. God is with me when people are saying my name and "successful author or speaker" in the same breath. God is with me when I'm alone in my home office and I'm praying for fresh content. He's with me when I don't know if the mail will bring enough income to make it through the month. He's with me when I'm sitting in an altar with my arms wrapped around a teen and praying.

He's with me. That's the key. And he's with you too as you pursue your dreams.

PS: I wrote a curriculum lesson for teens for Cook Ministries about "I Have a Dream". I hope you'll check it out.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Cultivate

Yesterday, I drove up to Tennesse to visit my new nephew, John. He was born about two weeks ago....so cute! While I was home, I helped my mother water her plants and it got me thinking. I feel like our relationship with mothers takes work like a garden takes work. To make a garden grow, you have to give it attention. You have to water it daily and make sure that you give it sunlight. Every plant is different. Some flowers love the sun while others love the shade. All of them need attention.

A few years ago, my mom got an orchid. Orchids are tricky. The blooms are really fragile. The blooms on her orchid fell off shortly after she brought it home. I would have thrown the plant away. It seemed useless at that point, but she kept giving it attention. She set it in a window for sun and kept it watered. One year went by and nothing. Year two went by and nothing, yet she still kept cultivating. The orchid finally bloomed 3 years later. She didn't give up and it was worth it! That is just like our relationships with our moms. Sometimes it seems like nothing is in bloom. Keep watching it. Keep giving it attention. Keep cultivating. In the end, it will be worth the fight.

I know your relationship with your mom can be frustrating during your teenage years, but keep cultivating. It may take time, but it's worth it.

Sarah Bragg

Saturday, May 19, 2007

From Jeanette: Can I Borrow Your Eyes?


Nathan, my 5-year-old is currently obsessed with what I can and can’t see, especially when it comes to colors.

“Can you see this is blue, Mom?”

“No. My eyes don’t work the same way that yours do.” I’ve tried to explain that I see everything like a black and white picture but he doesn’t quite get it.

Several times over the weekend he asked, “Can I borrow your eyes?”

“Believe me, you wouldn’t want them.”

“Can you borrow mine?”

I laughed. “I might not want to give them back.”

It’s pretty to sweet to observe him trying to figure out the workings of Mommy’s vision. The other day, while getting dressed, he held up the T-shirt that I’d handed him and said, “This is red, Mom.” As with my older son, he’ll probably become extremely color conscious.

Colors have always fascinated me. People often try to explain them—comparing them to textures, emotions, personality traits, etc. And it really works! For a moment I’m almost convinced that I understand color. I look forward to getting to heaven when I’ll see more amazing shades and hues than I ever missed on earth. But for now I’m limited to what my normally sighted friends tell me.

So, would you like to give it a try? I found this beautiful picture of a sunset on the Internet. What do the colors look like?

I look forward to your descriptions!

Jeanette

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Turn

I got "tagged" some time ago, too, and thought I would post my Eight Random Facts belatedly. I knew they would be too fascinating to miss though. Didn't want to deprive you... ha.

8 random facts/habits about me ...


1. I couldn't touch the gas pedal of my first "real" car. I still can't
touch the gas pedal of my brother's truck. (Know if you laugh at
that, you are no longer my friend. I will know. ) And no, I'm not
three ft. five. I'm actually over five feet, thank you very much.

2. When I was a teen, I had the OCD-like habit of "typing" all car
conversations. So when in the car (and when I wasn't driving),
I would "type" whatever someone was saying on my invisible
keyboard. I wouldn't even know I was doing it. I took my junior
high keyboarding class VERY seriously...

3. I have a student bring me boot-leg copies of Gilmore Girls
because my cable company refuses to carry the WB--still!
And they now refuse to accept my phone calls. My lawyer says
to just be patient.

4. I love to decorate, but I painted my master bedroom a
horrible green, and I get furiously angry every time I walk in
there, so now I'm just avoiding it. I've slept on the couch for
the last three months. And I now shower outside--under the
water hose. I think it's brought me and my neighbors to a new
level of closeness though.

5. I can still quote some of my lines from my first grade play. I was
Mrs. Claus. "Tick-tock it's twelve o'clock. Time for Santa to come!"
Hollywood called after that, but my agent said, "No, stick with
elementary theater. I think it's gonna be big..." He was wrong. He
now works for Paris Hilton.

6. This summer my friend Kari and I are making ourselves
read Pride and Prejudice.
It's our own book club called
"Girls Who Would Rather Be Reading a People Magazine."

7. I can eat a whole box of cereal in one sitting. For variety's sake,
I tried a whole box of catfood, but it wasn't quite the same. But I
did shed less.

8.
I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell!
Translation: I'm a big Will Ferrell fan.

Have a great weekend, G3'ers!
Jen

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Strange World of Guys

I don't understand guys. They're not like us at all.
Lately, my husband and son Thomas (almost 16) have been SO into sports that I don't fit into their world anymore. They love ESPN, baseball, NASCAR, football, and even when those buff guys on tv lift heavy things--they watch THAT. They fish. They play golf. Stuff I don't get.
The other night they were playing basketball. Close to 10 p.m--they were really into it--sweating, running around. I watched from the window for a minute. Then I decided to join them. At least hang out.
"What 'cha doing?" I said.
"Having a contest. First one to 21 points wins," Thomas said. "Here, I'll get a chair and you can watch."
A chair? He cares if I watch?
So, I cheered for both of them. I got excited. Then Thomas explained the game in more detail. They tied. Thomas said, "You want to try and shoot, Mom?"
Me? He's asking me to shoot? I did. I made a few baskets. Nothing remarkable but not terrible either.
I learned something about guys. The two at my house don't like to sit and chat at Starbucks. They'd never want to lie on a towel in the sun and tell you their secrets, like my daughters. But if you can somehow enter their mysterious guy world, they'll talk. If you can find common ground in their world of sports, they'll open up.
Crazy, but that's how it works at my house.
Guys have to be DOING something to talk. So weird.
At least I finally figured it out though.
♥Julie

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Grass on the Other Side







Finally (I think!) it is springtime in the Rockies. We had an unusual change of seasons, basically because it kept changing back to winter. The crocus and daffodils stuck their heads up and it snowed. The sun returned to warm the earth and the tulips and hyacynths opened their blossoms, and it snowed. Again we had soft rains and warm sun. The redbud trees and the lilac bushes, then it snowed.


But now the countryside and even the city lawns are greener than they have been in years. We are finished with our draught that plagued farmers and kept our forests at red alert for forest fires for almost ten years. The snow in the high country is adequate to supply run-off water aplenty this summer. The vacillating spring caused problems, but the additional moisture is welcome. Sometimes those extra trials are what makes our character vibrant with life. The grass is always greener on the other side of the obstacles that make it hard to proceed.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Some Random Facts About Mom

As you know, it’s Mother’s Day (You did remember—right?! If not, there is still time to buy a card or do something nice for your mom, or for another woman in your life who has been like a mother to you). So I thought I’d give a little Random Facts About Mom quiz. Let’s see how well you know the woman who is raising you.

1) When your mom was growing up, what did she want to be?
2) What does she like to do for fun? And no, the answer is NOT making your life miserable.
3) What makes your mom laugh?
4) What makes her cry?
5) Name at least one of her closest friends.
6) When she has time to relax, what does she like to do?
7) In what ways are you like her?
8) What is your mom’s . . .
Favorite movie
Favorite snack
Favorite type of music
Comfort food

Go talk to your mom if you don't know an answer.


And so you can get to know this mom a little bit, here are 8 random facts about Jeanette.

1) I can’t see in color but my favorite color is red (long story).

2) The first book that I learned to read was Ann Likes Red. I carried on the tradition by teaching Nathan to read it. He kept looking at me as if wanting to ask, “Mom, when is this going to get good?”

3) My friend Jennifer and I have known each other since we were 3.

4) I’d rather sing a solo in front of hundreds of people than mingle in a crowd.

5) I am totally addicted to coffee and black licorice (not together).

6) As a teen I wanted to be an actress but I couldn’t handle the rejection so I became a writer instead.

7) When I’m stressed I have dreams that I’m driving and am freaked out because I A) Don’t know how, and B) Don’t have a license and will be in big trouble if I get pulled over. The fact that I can’t see where I’m going doesn’t seem to bother me. I’m just afraid of getting in trouble. Typical me.

8) I’m a little over 5’8” but my son calls me Shortie. That’s because he’s 6’1”.

I tag Tricia and any readers who have ever posted a comment on one of my blogs.

Happy Mothers Day!
Jeanette

Friday, May 11, 2007

Octo-randium-factus


Yeah, so how do you like my Latin-ish title? Impressive, I know. (Warning: I am a professional writer and have experience making up words in various languages. Don't try this at home or in your Latin class.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself. As you know, we've all been tagged, and the first rule of the game is to post the rules of the game. Here they are:

Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blah-de-blog. (Okay, so you knew all that. I'm just trying to be a good, obedient child.)

Please secure all loose articles, and away we go!

1. When my mom was pregnant with me she drove straight into an oncoming tornado. (We won't discuss the intelligence of this move. Parental respect and all.) When she realized the tornado was not standing still in the road as it appeared to be, but was indeed moving toward her, she veered off into a parking lot just as all sorts of large debris fell on her car. She then experienced a huge adrenalin surge and hot flash. As you will see, this explains a lot.

2. I was born on my due date. However, when labor started, my mom ignored it, because "babies are never born on their due date." (Ahem. See above parenthetical note.) She barely made it to the hospital. Thankfully there were no tornadoes that day.

3. When I was a tiny infant in the crib, before I could say a single word, I could sing. Real notes and real melodies. It was a little freaky for my mom, but hey, she's the one who drove into the tornado.

4. As a child I almost never took naps, even as an infant, and I definitely couldn't go to sleep if a light was on. (A little overcharged maybe? Hot flash, anyone?)

5. When I was seven I set two goals I wanted to achieve before my next birthday: to ride a bike without training wheels and to whistle. I rode the bike. I still can't whistle.

6. Some time around high school I realized I could write perfect cursive backwards at regular speed.

7. I have an alter ego who is a popular speaker at various events. She thinks in iambic tetrameter. (I wonder if that's the meter of someone's heartbeat when they experience a major adrenalin surge?)

8. When I have to deal with annoying people, I write stories about them in my head. I find it makes me actually want to be around them longer--to see how the story turns out. Many of them wind up driving into tornadoes. (Just kidding, but it seemed like a good way to tie this all together.)

As for tagging eight more people by name, I'd much rather just get the octo-randium-factus from anyone reading this. Come on, gang. Let's hear it. I mean, what do you have to lose? You can't be weirder than me. (And I bet you can't beat my excuse, either.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

prayers please...

Introducing my Tre-Tre...

This is my youngest son. He's about to turn 3 in a couple of days, and I can't believe how time has flown. He joined our family at 7 months old-- a pretty sick little guy.

I'm a few hours behind on posting (and I apologize to Jeanne for imposing on her day...) because I spent the day in the hospital with my dear Tre-Tre.

See, Tre-Tre doesn't sleep for more than 30-40 minutes at a time. Normal brains release a hormone called melatonin that relaxes you and calms the brain so the body can sleep, but my little guy's brain was flooded with alcohol and drugs in utero. As a result, he doesn't produce melatonin. I'm sure the other moms here can tell you what a tired two-year-old who can't get to sleep is like in the middle of the night. Yeah, this is a 24/7 for us.

A day at the hospital and all we were told is that he's still not old enough for melatonin supplements. So, my hubby and I take turns sleeping while the other one tries to keep a cranky, upset little guy who just wants to sleep but his brain won't quiet down to let him from waking up the whole house. All night long.

He's playing with his train table right now like its 1 in the afternoon-- not in the morning.

And I'm sleepy...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tagged



The first rule of the game, however, is to post the rules of the game. Here
they are:



Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things
and post these rules.


At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people
to get tagged and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment
telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


Eight Random Facts about Sarah:


1. I didn't ride a roller coaster until I was fifteen because I was a big chicken.


2. I got caught stealing a sticker when I was 9 and was so mortified that I never stole another thing in my life. I started walking around stores with my hands held away from my body so that everyone would know that I wasn't stealing.


3. I was obsessed with unicorns growing up, and the sticker I tried to steal was, in fact, a unicorn sticker.


4. I broke my sister's arm when I closed the car door on her. I think she was 4 or 5.


5. I cannot sing. Well, I can, but it doesn't sound very good.


6. My first submission was a poem that I sent into The New Yorker. Yeah, I was completely deluded.


7. I am addicted to Diet Coke with Splenda and I have no intention of stopping.


8. My first car was a '72 Volkswagon Convertible Bug, which I later killed by not getting the oil changed. Something I swear to this day my father never mentioned to me.


Okay, these were supposed to be random facts and here I am telling you all the bad stuff about me:-)


Okay, I tag Miss Erin, and anyone who reads this! Y'all, we want to hear from you! We know you're reading...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No tag backs!

The first rule of the game, however, is to post the rules of the game. Here they are:

Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight random things about me:

*I have a box of five-years' worth of Wham!/George Michael memorabilia that I doubt I could ever part with in my attic.

*I love peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches.

*I've read Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence-- all five books-- at least ten times in my life.

*Snapdragons are my favorite flowers, and I like to write plays for them as puppets to entertain my kids.

*I still want to believe that fairies dance in the moonlight under my oak trees.

*I worked for four years as stage manager in charge of costumes and make-up at a Halloween attraction named number one in the state.

*I love the show Jericho.

*I own fourteen pairs of Converse Chucks-- two pairs are almost twenty years old now (yeah, that's probably rather gross, isn't it?)

Come on, the rest of you gals, where's yours????

Beauty from ... what a mess!


I have a new book coming out in July for teen girls. Thinking about it both excites me and terrifies me at the same time.


The title is: My Life, Unscripted. In it I've share more about my messed up teen years than I ever thought I would. In fact stories I SWORE to never tell a soul will soon be in print! Like the time I was on a date with my boyfriend and found myself kissing his best friend. Or the time I got in a fist fight after a football game ... did I mention I was still wearing my cheerleading uniform? Or when I was 17 and told my boyfriend in the McDonald's parking lot that I was pregnant.

It's stories like these that I wish were fiction and NOT the truth!

Yet, years ago, after I dedicated my life to Christ I prayed He would redeem those years and bring some good out of them. This book is that redemption in print!
It's a dream come true. It's my way of allowing God to take the mess and make something beautiful out of it.
So what do you dream about? Check out this quote I found:

"God never simply buries our dead and broken dreams because He'd be burying our hearts along with our dreams. One of two positive things will happen. Either the dream will become fertilizer for something even better, or the Lord will give me the gumption and oomph to bring my dream to fruition. I can't lose either way!" ~Noni Joy Tari

To put in bluntly, the MESS from my teen years became fertilizer for something better. Believe me, it took a lot of gumption and guts to bring this dream to fruition, but if it can help one teen to choose a better path for her life it's ALL worth it!

Now, what about you? What mess have you lived through that you hope one day can help someone else? Tell me about it ...
Tricia

Tag, You're It!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I've Been Tagged by Donita.

So I am posting out of turn, too!

The topic is “8 Random Facts About Myself.”

The first rule of the game, however, is to post the rules of the game.

Here they are:
  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
1. The T in T. Suzanne Eller doesn't stand for Terrific, like I tell people when they ask. It's Tonya, and the reason I don't like it is that my 1st grade teacher made everyone call me Tonya (because she said it was my REAL name) instead of Suzie, which is what my family and everyone I knew called me, and it took until 7th grade to get back to "Suzie" instead of "Tonya".

2. I can jump rope and pogo stick at the same time.

3. I love skiing, tubing, swimming -- I love being in the water.

4. My favorite color is grass green.

5. My favorite desert is cheesecake.

6. I laugh a lot, even at my own jokes, even when no one else is laughing

7. I have a cat named Darcy, and three horses: Annie, Grace, and Apache Moon

8. If I had to give up every food group but one, I would choose fruits/veggies as my one food group.

Now I get to tag others. Hmm! I'm going to try all the remaining authors on this blog and BJ Hamrick, a 20-something who wrote her story in my first book, and who just got picked up by a great agent as a potential author!

Monday, May 07, 2007

I've Been Tagged


So I am posting out of turn.
After all this time of avoiding being tagged, I’ve been hit by Rebecca LuElla Miller at http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ , in other words, Christian Worldview of Fiction, and the topic is “8 Random Facts About Myself.”
The first rule of the game, however, is to post the rules of the game. Here they are:
Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. My name almost means little miss in Spanish. My mother was taking beginning Spanish at the time, and thought it did.

2. I've lived in Kansas, New York, Texas, Arkansas, and Colorado.

3. I had 24 bookcases is one house before we moved and downsized.

4. I've taught for 44 years. HONEST! I started when I was 13 in a Sunday school class.

5. I loathe macaroni and cheese but will eat it when I'm depressed.

6. I've always wanted to write a picture book.

7. The cat I grew up with was named Fifi Abdul Abul-bul Amir La Foofu Natasha Hamid. Long story.

8. I want to sing in the choir in heaven and know the words!

Now I get to tag others. Hmm! I'm going to try all the other authors on this blog!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Jaded

I worked full-time in student ministry for six years. During that time, I enlisted in Dallas Theological Seminary. Some of you may wonder why I said enlisted. I didn’t use the wrong word. It really does feel like you sign you life away when you enroll in seminary. For the next several years (7 for me), my life was consumed with the Bible and theology. These things seem good and are good, but it can leave you jaded.

As I was driving in car the other day, I confessed to my husband that I have become jaded due to knowledge. Seminary has left more questions than answers in some cases. Things that I accepted in child-like faith are no longer easy to accept. Sometimes I wish I could go back to when I didn’t know as much.

Sometimes in our faith, we become jaded. The things that struck wonder in us no longer effect us. We look at this world through the eyes of knowledge rather than wonder. We need to have a sense of wonder in our lives.

In moments like these, I realize that I need to step back and remember who God is. What is it about God that incites wonder in me? When I think about how great God is, I can’t help but think how small I am. I read Job 38:1-6 today and the jadedness began to fade…

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set,or who laid its cornerstone-

This reminds me of an opportunity I had to speak on a tiny island called Kwajalein in the middle of the south Pacific. While I was there, I fell sick. I had to cough every minute. I was a wreak. I remember having a moment where I was pretty bummed on the fact that I was sick and so far away from home. As I was pouting and complaining to the Lord, I looked up and saw what was around me. In that moment, I caught a glimpse of something that I needed to be reminded of—God’s bigness. I realized how small I was and how small my worries were. How many moments like that do you have in the course of a week? It’s spring, the flowers are blooming, I’m alive! Am I having “God is big” moments? Or are a lot of my moments “My problems are big and Its all about me” moments?

I don’t know what it takes to incite wonder in you, but maybe take a minute and think about how big God is. Take a drive and look around at what you see. Open up an encyclopedia and look at the universe. If you’re a parent, look into the eyes of your child. Don’t let the knowledge jade you. We should constantly look for ways to incite wonder in ourselves so that we don’t become jaded in our faith.

Friday, May 04, 2007

America, You've Got Talent...(seriously)

I grew up in a small, rural, ultra traditional church. If you were gonna serve the Lord, you worked in the nursery, you taught Sunday school, or you sang in the choir. I wasn’t really good at any of those things. (Well, I sang in the choir, but that’s another story ENTIRELY.) Growing up like this gave me a very limited impression of what ministry looked like—of what serving God looked like. I didn’t pray out loud well, didn’t have the desire or gift to teach Bible stories, didn’t do ANY of the stuff I thought God expected us to. Soldier for the Lord? My only
talent was warming the pew with my heinie.

Fast forward many years later, and I’m attending a new church. I volunteer to work with the elementary kids, not knowing what else to do to be of assistance. And then they find out I teach drama, and suddenly we’re putting Bible stories into mini-plays for the kids, I’m teaching at Bible school (in drama form), and helping fine-tune the occasional script.

It just never occurred to me that my love for being a ham could be of any use to God. I’m a little slow, I admit. But doesn’t it make perfect sense that if God gives me gifts and talents, such as acting or just the ability to act crazy (yes, it is an art), that He would also want me to use them to glorify Him?

So yeah, I was an old lady when I discovered I had something to give back to God. Soooo unnecessary that it took that long. What gifts do you have? Can you write, sing, or play an instrument? Are you good on the phone (and what teenager isn’t?), have the gift of compassion, organization, or decorating? All these things can be used by God. Pray and ask Him to show you where you are needed. If you’ve got a talent—let it be His! I have a friend, Salle Anne. She’s an expert clogger and plays the spoons like nobody’s business. I can’t wait to see how God is going to use that… And yeah, that's me in the army getup above. I didn't say I looked especially cool while being useful for Jesus.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Enjoy Being a Girl


I decided to celebrate spring by painting my toenails. First, in case you’re wondering how a woman with limited sight and no color vision manages to beautify her toes, I’ll let you in on two of my secrets:

1) I choose color names wisely (for example, my personal favorite, “Wine with Everything”)
2) I’m very flexible (have you ever watched a contortionist?)

But that’s not really the point.

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, preparing to wrap my leg around my head in order to see my toes.

All my props were in place: polish, clippers, lotion, plastic tub of warm soapy water, complete with a few squirts of scented bubble bath . . . the works. Just as I pressed Play on the DVD player so I could cry my way through Finding Neverland for the 10th time, in walked Nathan.
“Can I do it too?” Nathan plopped his 5-year-old body down beside me and attempted to role up the leg of his jeans. Suddenly he stopped, eyeing the bubbly water. “Is this a girlie thing to do?”

Immediately, my mind replayed a scene from the last time I let him soak his feet while I gave myself a pedicure. As Nathan dangled his stalky legs in the floral-laced water his 16-year-old brother, who had just returned from youth group, viewed the scene in horror and demanded, “What is this?!”

He looked so cute sitting there on the floor with his jeans rolled up and one shoe off. Besides, he was five! So I assured him this time, “Guys soak their feet sometimes. It’s okay.”

Nathan kept his feet in the water long after I’d removed mine. When I started massaging my feet with lotion he asked “Can I have some-a-that?”

“Sure.”

As if fearing that big brother might overhear, he whispered, “Is it a girlie thing?”

I whispered back, “I won’t use a girlie scent.”

He removed his pruney feet from the water and flopped them across my lap. I massaged his feet before starting on my nails.

“What’s that stuff?” Nathan reached for the polish bottle.

My husband, who had remained silent up to this point, bellowed from the back of the room, “You are not painting his toes.”

“It’s nail polish,” I told Nathan. “And that would be a girlie thing to do. How about if I clip your toenails?”

He lost interest at that point and left the foot-soaking tub for a tub filled with LEGOS. I continued my pedicure and chick flick in peace. As cheesy as it sounds (I can be pretty cheesy), I thanked God for making me a girl. I’ve always been a girlie girl. As a little girl I truly believed that my dolls had feelings. For one entire school year I refused to wear pants. I love to paint my nails, wear lip gloss and pink, slather my body with essence of flowers and fruits of all varieties, and fill my house with pretty things. The fact that God gave me boys reveals the depth of His sense of humor. But my house full of guys also provides me with plenty of reminders of how wonderful it is to be female.

Think about it for a minute. Sure, we deal with our share of unpleasant stuff, but oh the good that outweighs the bad. God uses us to bring life into the world. We have strength that men don’t have. For example, I read somewhere that we have a higher tolerance for pain, better night vision, and a stronger sense of hearing than guys do (all of which will come in handy when you have kids). When we cry, men melt. Our clothes are more fun. And we get to wear accessories. I love accessories!

The Bible is filled with proof that God used women in unique ways—that we are special to Him. What could be better than that?

What do you love most about being a young woman? I’d love to hear from you!

Now, go paint your nails or smooth on some scented lotion. Enjoy being a girl!

Jeanette

A Pregnant Teen

A senior in high school just announced her pregnancy. She's a strong Christian.

I'm praying for her.

I don't know the perfect words to type into this blog. I know it must be so difficult to be getting ready to leave for college and also pregnant. I can see a hint of sadness in her eyes. But I also see encouragement as her friends love her and don't judge. She had a good check-up with the doctor everything's on schedule--the baby looks good.

Could I ask for prayer for my friend and others in this same situation?

May God bless them and keep them. May He receive glory and honor and praise. I pray my friend will experience His unconditional grace through those around her. Perfect love casts out all fear.

♥Julie

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

House or Home?


We're moving! Hurray for a lot of reasons! Oh dear, for a lot of reasons. Besides the hassle of thousands of details, the prospect of making a house a home is exciting. And God showed me something interesting yesterday as we contemplated the merits of three different houses. We probably will go with the house that needs the most work. Why? Well, it's cheaper, but that's only part of it. There is something very appealing about choosing your own paint, creating a living space in an unfinished basement, laying out the use of the backyard for play and beauty. As I realized we would be happier having more input into our surroundings, I realized that God gives us a house (a life) gives us instructions as to what works best, then lets us choose our own surroundings. Right? He gives us the framework and lets us do the decorating. Pretty cool, if we make the right choices. And if we don't well, we can paint over the purple wall striped with sunset orange and try again.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I want to remember

I've been absent for nearly a month from GGGL! But it's because I've been traveling across Europe. Over the past three weeks I spoke in Germany, Hungary, and in Austria. I spoke at a reformed church in Budapest and Debreccen, and in an International church at Vienna, Austria, and at a military base in Wiesbaden, Germany. God has been stretching me like crazy as I've stepped across borders and language barriers, and cultural differences.

And yet he's also allowed me to make new friends, to glimpse what heaven will look like one day as I worshipped with people in different languages, and with different experiences, but with one heart for God. I also ate very cool foods and saw buildings that were amazing!

I wish I could share all of it, but I want to at least give you a glimpse of one very powerful moment. I went to Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria where thousands and thousands suffered and died because they were Jews, or as POWS fighting for the freedom of the Jews.

I traveled with a good friend named Martina. She lives in Austria and studied Mauthausen, writing her thesis on what happened behind the walls of the camp. The first thing that I saw was memorials from all around the nation. I saw small rocks piled everywhere--remembrance rocks picked up from the quarry where Jewish men broke large rocks by hand and carried it all up 186 steps. Many died of fatigue or exposure to the elements. Others were skeletal, starved and broken in body.

The hardest part for me was walking into the gas chamber and the Krematorium. These were small rooms, yet large with pain and suffering. A room where evil overtook compassion or human concern. A place where torture was commonplace, and where human dignity was forsaken.

How does that happen? How can a person be so lost in darkness that this seems normal, or even allowed to take place? I believe this is a question that needs to be asked again and again.

But we often do that. We look at the larger picture, but I wanted to take a long look at my own heart.

I brought home a rock. I could have shopped in the beautiful stores in Austria, or in Germany, or Hungary. I could have bought trinkets and tourism items, but that rock picked up from the quarry at Mauthausen will help me remember.

I want to remember to love others.
I want to remember that people in the world are hungry, or hurting and the my comfort isn't the greatest thing on God's heart.
I want to remember that my words count.
I want to remember to speak out against evil.
I want to remember so that I might learn something from standing inside a gas chamber in Mauthausen, and it not just be another experience.

I've missed talking with you girls. Let us know you are here. We love hearing what you have to say.

Suzie Eller
http://realteenfaith.com

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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