Jill Williamson’s Blog

God’s Plan or Yours?

Posted by on May 22nd, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, My Story | 4 comments

Once I’d officially given up my pursuit of being a fashion designer, I started thinking about what God wanted me to be when I “grew up.” I wanted to serve him in a big way. I wanted to change people, and I became convinced that I was supposed to do that by being a speaker. I had an interesting childhood, I made a ton of mistakes, and I wasn’t afraid to talk about it.

I started researching how people become speakers at teen events and schools, and I discovered that oftentimes people are invited to speak after someone has read an article they wrote in a magazine.

Well, how hard could that be, right? So I wrote some articles, submitted them, and discovered that writing articles was a lot harder than I thought. Each magazine had specific needs and formats. I had to craft a different idea for each one, and there was no guarantee that they’d even use it! But I kept at it, determined that I was doing something worthwhile and necessary.

Is He the One? by Jill Williamson

My first published article in Brio & Beyond November 2006

Around that time a debate sprang up in our church about the Harry Potter books and whether they were “safe” for Christians to read. Now, despite what you feel about them, I was annoyed. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I knew there were far worse books out there for teens that most parents didn’t even know about. I got thinking, why couldn’t someone write books for teens from a Christian worldview?

Maybe I could.

I pushed aside my article writing and started a novel. Looking back, I did everything wrong. But I got hooked on it. It was so much fun. And I had no desire to go back to the hard work of writing articles.

The Mission League

Logo I made for my spy kid novel

I started to feel guilty. Hadn’t I decided to serve God in a big way? Hadn’t I dedicated my life to helping teens by sharing my story and what I learned? Writing my little spy kid novel was totally selfish! I was turning my back on something “holy” and doing something that was more fun. And God knew it!

I talked to my pastor about this and he set me straight. He reminded me that God can use anything he wants to reach people. And if I really loved writing this book, he thought I should keep going.

I got thinking about King David and Nathan and how Nathan wanted to point out that David was sinning with Bathsheba, but rather than tell the king he was doing something wrong, Nathan used a story to reach him. (2 Samuel 12) And it worked.

And Jesus told stories all the time to get people to think about deep things.

I decided to keep writing that book.

The thing is, planning is good. But God wants us to experience life, not schedule it. And sometimes we can’t know what he’ll put before us until he does it. And if we’re too caught up in our own agendas, we just might miss out on something pretty amazing. Something better than our own plans.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

CS Lewis said in Mere Christianity: “Your real, new self will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.”

I was trying to plan out who I was going to be. But when I stepped back and went looking for God’s will instead of what I thought he’d find pleasing, I found myself.

Serving God doesn’t have to be taking a vow of silence, becoming a pastor, or going to bible college. It might. But God doesn’t want to bully us into a life of service. He wants us to give him our hearts. To love him above everything else. He wants us to be who he created us to be. Not who someone else already is. And when we find ourselves, we’ll know how to serve him. And if it’s truly our calling, we will find joy in it.

Have you ever gotten so caught up with your To Do list or your own agenda that you forget to seek out your creator? Have you ever struggled with your dream being too much fun or the complete opposite? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Pure Life, Pure Love by Elsa Kok Colopy

Posted by on May 21st, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 0 comments

Pure Life, Pure Love by Elsa Kok Colopy Review by Jill Williamson

There are, like, a thousand books on purity out there, and I’ve read a lot of them. What I felt was different about this book was that it got me thinking about purpose, which is one of my life passions. God has a purpose for each of us, whether we believe it or not. And he is asking us to seek him out and trust him.

Lots of people think that believing in God and living for him means that we have to follow a long list of rules. When I first started following God, that’s what I wanted, believe it or not. I wanted to the rules. I wanted to be sure that I would never mess up my life again. But that’s not how it works. We all mess up, whether we love God or not. And Elsa gets that. Man, do I wish I had read this book when I was a new Christian!

Elsa walks us through all the questions a teen girl might have. It’s not about setting impossible standards or being perfect, it’s about loving God and letting God love you. It’s about learning his plan for your life and embracing that. Can you imagine? God loves you and wants to give you a purpose while you’re here on this earth. How cool is that?

This book is filled with practical advice, true stories of girls who’ve struggled, and discussion questions to get you thinking about how to apply all this to your own life. Totally worth the read. I highly recommend this one.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: non fiction/teen life
Part of a Series: no
Pages: 208
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: 2012
   

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The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Posted by on May 17th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 4 comments

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerryReview by Jill Williamson

Now that Lena Mattacascar has turned eighteen, she decides to leave home in search of her father in the wild wilderness of Scree where the Peculiars live—outcasts for their strange inhuman characteristics. Lena has always feared she might be part Peculiar because of her long fingers and feet, and she conceals her deformity as best she can, always wearing gloves.

When traveling on the train, Lena meets Jimson Quiggley, a young librarian, and Thomas Saltre, a marshal. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he asks her to spy on Jimson Quiggley and his boss Mr. Beasley and report whatever she learns back to him. In exchange, Saltre promises to help Lena find her father.

Mr. Beasley’s home is filled with strange inventions and noises in the night. The more she learns about Jimson and Mr. Beasley, the more she likes them. Lena’s confusion over who to trust leads her to a decision that changes everything.

This is a steampunk novel. I adore steampunk and wish there were more of them. Steampunk is merely a fantasy novel that takes place in a time period where steam power was used as modern technology. Such a storyworld enables interesting props and plot devices.

This is a fun book. Totally clean. Lena is shy and naive, self-conscious of how she looks, especially in regards to her hands and feet. Jimson is loyal to Mr. Beasley and enthralled with invention and progress. He doesn’t care much for Lena’s faith, which adds some interesting discussions here and there. And Mr. Beasley is the enigmatic inventor, who reminded me somewhat of Doc Brown in the Back to the Future movies.

I enjoyed the premise of what makes one human. The Peculiars with their strange deformities are said to be unable to go to heaven by missionaries in the story. The missionaries were written as firm legalists to their beliefs, though one changed her mind in the end. I’ll be interested to see where the author takes this subplot.

Lena’s search for her father gets derailed by the marshal’s quest, but it all comes around in the end. Her confusion about who to trust is likely a relatable experience for a young woman inexperienced with advances from a handsome man. The marshal is sneaky—I didn’t trust him. But I could see how Lena might. This is not a fast-paced book, but I was never bored and look forward to the second book in the series. This is a fun, thoughtful, clean read.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: steampunk/fantasy
Part of a Series: yes
Pages: 368
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Released: 2012
    

Looking for some new bibles for your kids? NIV Boys Bible and the NIV Faithgirlz Bible

Posted by on May 11th, 2012 in Adventures in Faith, Jill Williamson's Blog | 0 comments

Looking for some new bibles for your kids? Check out these ones!

NIV Boys Bible

I’d been wanting to upgrade my son to an “older” bible, as he’s been getting too old VeggieTales one. 😉  

This one is perfect! I love that he has the full Word, the same text that I have in my bible. He feels good about having this new bible, and the cover looks “guy.” He loves the “grossology” sections, which expand on something from a passage that is truly gross. And the “What’s the Big Deal” sections that appear every four pages give further thought into passages.

He knows that it really doesn’t matter what kind of bible he has, that reading God’s Word is all that truly matters, but I think this particular bible makes him smile and go looking to connect in his own 10-year-old way. 

 

NIV Faithgirlz Bible

Cute cover. My daughter loves it. At eight, she’s a little young for the “Oh I get it” sidebars and “Dream Girl” devotionals, but she likes the “Is There a Little Wise Kid in You” ones and the sporadic quizzes. I like that there’s a brief intro page at the beginning of each book that explains in kid terms what the book is about and gives some highlights. I love that she has the same NIV version of the Word that I have, so we can each read from our own bibles and have the same text.

This is a bible she can grow up with and love until the cover wears off. And I think that someday she will read those longer sidebars and devotional passages and really enjoy them because they are deep and thoughtful.

Two thumbs up for both of these bibles. They give my kids the Word in a unique package that appeals to them.

Interview with Travis Thrasher

Posted by on May 8th, 2012 in Adventures in Life, Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 20 comments

A few years ago I first saw the cover for Solitary by Travis Thrasher (click the title to see my review). It was simple and intrigued me. And when I read the book, it totally sucked me in! I kept thinking, “Christian teen horror? Who knew?”

But then the book made me mad. (I may have thrown it once.) And in the end, it left me so puzzled that I needed to read book two, which left me dying to read book three to the point that I actually pre-ordered the thing. And now I’m a Thrasher Head, counting the days until January.

“Hey, Travis… I don’t suppose you need any endorsements for Hurt?”

Yeah… I figured as much.

At least I got to talk with Travis a little in the meantime.

I’d like to say that this isn’t a series you want to start in the middle. If you haven’t read Solitary, go buy it right now. Or enter to win below. Travis has graciously offered to give all three books to one of my blog readers.

Sweet!

So enjoy the interview, enter to win, and if you don’t win, go buy Solitary! You will be entertained. 

The Solitary Tales

The contest is only to win the FIRST THREE BOOKS.

In regards to the picture above, look how fabulous Hurt looks there on the end with the creepy ol’ church on the cover. Oh, Hurt! How I long to pluck you off the shelf and read all of your pages.

Okay… Jill’s losing focus here. 

An interview! Yes. That was the plan. (Why do I feel like Doctor Who today?)

Without further randomness, I give you Mr. Thrasher. *applause*

Travis, when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since third grade, and that has been the one constant in my life.

When did you decide to try writing books?

I’ve always been reading and writing but I wrote my first novel in ninth grade. I still have it. It was written in pencil on notebook paper and it was called The Adventurer. It was pretty bad.  

Was it hard work?

Writing is the easiest thing in the world to do. The hard part is writing something that is well written! 

Travis Thrasher

What was your biggest obstacle as you learned to become a writer?

Self doubt. I think that’s one of the biggest obstacles for any writer. Writing is such a personal and solitary craft. You’re left alone to your own habits and hangups. It’s easy to have insecurity about every part of the writing process. The key is plowing ahead even if or when you know the writing is awful or simply mediocre. I think I’m the most persistent writer out there. Not the most talented, but the most persistent. 

What do you consider one of your biggest life adventures?

I live on a bloody battlefield. Except the blood is colored pink, and there’s lots of toys littering the field. As the father of three girls (a five year old and two 17-month-old twins), my wife and I are currently on an amazing adventure. Trying to do this while supporting all of us by “living the dream” (see question #1) can be tough. But doors continue to open to writing projects. I never know what adventure will be coming next!  

Temptation is book three in the Solitary Tales. Here is the storyline:

As a reluctant student at Harrington High’s summer school, Chris meets a fun-loving senior girl who offers a welcome diversion from Chris’s past. Soon Chris no longer searches for the truth about the town of Solitary. He no longer tries to pierce its shadows. He no longer questions his role in its mysteries. He makes a new choice: he runs. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s running the wrong way—and is very close to being beyond any choices at all. 

It’s a fabulous book. But, again, if you haven’t read Solitary and Gravestone, read the series in order! Travis, in your Solitary books, Chris has to move to a strange town that’s far away from anything. What advice would you give teens that are forced to live in places they don’t want to live? How can they make the best of things?

Keeping a positive attitude is the best thing you can do. I know that sounds trite–I find it hard at times to keep positive myself. Life doesn’t always go the way we hope or expect. Moving around was hard for me–I went to four different high schools. At the same time, I wouldn’t change anything because it made me who I am now.

The older I get, the more I realize that every single day we have is a gift. When you’re a teenager, you think you’re going to live forever. You think that forty-years-old is over the hill. You sometimes can’t wait to be a grownup. Relish those times of being a teenager regardless of the circumstances. 

Any real-life adventures planned for the near future? If not, what is one dream that you’ve yet to live? 

I’m starting to look ahead to the future in terms of family plans. I’ve always looked ahead when it came to my writing, and I still do that. But now, with these three little ladies in our house, I’m looking through a different set of lenses.

What new fictional adventure are you working on now?

My next book is an eBook only release of a story called Teardrop that is part of seven other stories in the 7 Hours project released by Tyndale House Publishers. It comes out in May. Then in September, a novelization I worked on for the movie Home Run will be released. The movie is a tremendous story about a professional baseball player who is forced to go to rehab and ends up finding hope and redemption. 

Thanks so much for the interview, Travis! I look forward to your new writing projects, and obviously, to Hurt. Here are some places to find Travis online:

Travis’ website: http://www.travisthrasher.com/

Travis’ blog: http://thejourneyiseverything.blogspot.com/

Travis’ Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Travis-Thrasher/13427461109?ref=ts 

And to enter to win SolitaryGravestone, and Temptation, leave a comment and/or “like” Travis’ Facebook Page. May the randomest entry win.

 

 

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Team Novel Teen Blog Tour: Interview with Interrupted author Rachel Coker

Posted by on Apr 30th, 2012 in Adventures in Life, Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 2 comments

Today Team Novel Teen is reviewing Interrupted by teen author Rachel Coker. I can’t think of anything cooler than a traditionally published teen author. There are so many reviewers talking about the book, and you can visit those links at the bottom of this post. But I thought it would be fun to talk with Rachel, so I asked her some questions. I’ll post my review of Interrupted tomorrow.

Thanks for doing an interview on my blog, Rachel! Your first novel! Share some of the exciting things that you’ve done during this release time.

I can definitely say that the last few months have been some of the most exciting of my life. It’s just been a whirlwind of interviews, radio shows, giveaways, talks, and even a few book signings! The most surreal thing to happen so far was when I got the chance to fly to Philadelphia to sign books at the Public Library Association Conference. Shaking hands with so many people and getting to share my book with them was just an amazing experience—I was smiling the whole time!

 

I bet! Have you received any emails from readers? Would you tell us about one? How did it make you feel to get that feedback?

Yes, I get emails from readers on an almost daily basis! Each one is so special and unique and they almost always make me want to cry. Happy tears, that is! It’s an amazing feeling to know that other teens from all over the country (and even a few international emails from places like Australia, New Zealand, and Canada!) are hearing about my book and are being inspired by my story. Every time someone tells me something like, “I never thought it was possible to get a book published in my teens, but you have given me faith and confidence to go out there and try to get my book published,” I feel like it’s my birthday, Christmas, and National Pie Day all wrapped up in one!

 

Tell me more about this National Pie Day… Kidding! Have you ever gone to a writer’s conference? Would you be interested in teaching a class at a conference? If so, what topic might you speak on?

No, I’ve never been to a writer’s conference, although I would love to go to one! I do have several speaking engagements lined up to talk to teenagers interested in writing at different schools and libraries. I have this great workshop prepared called “How to Live Like a Writer” as well as talks on practical fiction writing advice. And of course I love to talk to teens about how to go about getting their work published!

 

I want to take your workshop! Not that I’m a teen, but… What do you consider one of your biggest life adventures? 

While I have experienced a lot of amazing things, I really hope that my greatest life adventure hasn’t happened yet. I have so many dreams of seeing the world, meeting new people, and embarking on many great adventures. I just pray that I’ll get to see some of those dreams realized one day!           

 

Well, Interrupted is a wonderful story. Here is the back cover copy:

Can love really heal all things?

If Sam Carroll hadn’t shown up, she might have been able to get to her mother in time. Instead, Allie Everly finds herself at a funeral, mourning the loss of her beloved mother. She is dealt another blow when, a few hours later, she is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Beatrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept. Poetry and letters written to her mother become the only things keeping Allie’s heart from hardening completely.

But then Sam arrives for the summer, and with him comes many confusing emotions, both toward him and the people around her. As World War II looms, Allie will be forced to decide whether hanging on to the past is worth losing her chance to be loved.

 

Not all life adventures are fun. And your story deals with some tough subjects. Allie has to take care of her sick mother. Do you have any advice for teens that have a parent that needs care?

Oh, this is such a tough topic. One of the most difficult aspects of writing Interrupted was forming this relationship between Allie and her mother. Because Allie’s mom suffers from a brain tumor and begins losing her sanity, their traditional mother-daughter roles are reversed and Allie turns into her mother’s nurturing, maternal figure. It’s always hard when life throws us curveballs and we have to face difficulties that we didn’t think we’d have to deal with until we were well into our adult years. But I think the only way that anyone with difficult circumstances can cope with tragedies and hardships is through praying. We have a God that promises to supply all our needs and give us the strength to carry on and make those hard decisions. It may have taken Allie several years to realize that, but all along it was God’s strength that supported her.

 

That’s wonderful advice, Rachel. Thanks for sharing that. What new fictional adventure are you working on now? 

I’m putting the final touches on my next novel, which due to release in March 2013. I’m really excited about this one! The story revolves around a teenage girl named growing up in Georgia during the 1960’s. Her younger brother has autistic tendencies, but because so little was known back then about mental disabilities, everyone just regards him as a freak. Scarlett encounters so much turmoil and stress as the world changes around her, and so many things threaten to tear her family apart. But in the end, she has to learn what’s really important in life. It doesn’t matter what other people consider normal or acceptable. What’s important is to be true to yourself and to look after those you care about. I can’t wait to share more details as the release date grows nearer. 

 

Wow! I can’t wait to hear more! It sounds like a powerful story. Congrats on the new contract and thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. 

Find out what the other bloggers are saying about Interrupted!

ADD Librarian • The Book Fae • Book Nook 4 You • Colorimetry • CTF Devourer • Gillian Adams • My Life with a Mission • My Story Shelf • Jill Williamson • Oh, Restless Bird • Rachelle Rea 

Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Interrupted by Rachel Coker by clicking on the links above, and check out www.NovelTeen.com for more information about Team Novel Teen.

 

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Posted by on Apr 24th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, My Story | 1 comment

I’m the oldest of five. I grew up in Alaska. My dad built our house bit by bit as the bank account allowed. We didn’t have electricity. We didn’t have TV. Every time we went into town, I checked out a bag of library books. When I wasn’t reading, I was daydreaming. 

Most my daydreams centered on becoming rich and famous, which I figured would bring true happiness. I dreamed I was a rock star, an actress, a movie director, a writer, and a fashion designer.

The fashion design dream—that was the one that stuck. My mom did our back-to-school shopping at thrift stores. So I remodeled all my “new” clothes. And when someone complimented me on my outfit, I’d say, “I made this!” The positive reactions of my peers fueled my dream. I sewed clothes from scratch, sewed my homecoming and prom dresses, and joined the FCLA and sewed for competition.

When I started looking at fashion design colleges, my parents wanted me to get a teaching degree to fall back on. It wasn’t bad advice, really, but it felt like they were saying I’d fail at fashion design. And a few people actually told me I’d fail.

No way was I going to let that happen.

I learned everything I could about the industry. I studied famous designers like Coco Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, and Calvin Klein. I subscribed to VOGUE. I found documentaries on the industry and memorized them. I was obsessed.

I earned a fashion degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Our graduation was at Radio City Music Hall. The same place Daddy Warbucks bought out the show in Annie! How cool was that?

Radio City Music Hall Graduation

If you zoom in, you can see Fashion Institute of Technology on the marquee.

We moved to Los Angeles. I worked at a little girl’s dress making company, and later, a better evening gown company. I was living the dream!

Except things weren’t at all how I dreamed it would be. The designers were worried about losing their jobs and never let assistants design anything. Ever. I ordered buttons and zippers, I beaded straps, created stylebooks, worked up cost sheets, cut swatches, and mailed the line to New York, Dallas, and Philadelphia via FedEx more times that I care to remember. But I never got the opportunity to design.

I wasn’t living the dream at all. It was more like a Devil Wears Prada nightmare!

I decided to start my own business. I loved bridal, so I designed a line of better wedding gowns. I created the patterns, chose the fabric and trim, and sewed all nine of them myself. My company was called Lugano. I went to the Chicago Bridal Market in spring of 2001. Two of my dresses even showed up in a fall issue of Modern Bride! I had done it!

My Lugano Booth

My booth at the Chicago Bridal Market in 2001.

The whole ordeal was amazing.

And a reality check of epic proportions.

You see, when a girl gets engaged, she buys a stack of bridal magazines and marks the dresses she likes. The ads tell her whether there is a store nearby that carries each gown. She visits the store to try on the dress. She might not buy it. But that advertisement was what got her to the store.

Each season, bridal stores have a budget for what new dresses they can purchase for their store. And most of the budget is used up on a few designers that advertise in magazines, since those ads get customers to the stores. And even thought I got a little free publicity with my two dresses that appeared in Modern Bride, it’s the big, full-page, color ads that get most brides calling up the stores.

Lugano in Modern Bride

Click on the image to see it up close. I put gold frames around my dresses.

Back in 2001, a full page ad in a bridal magazine cost around $40,000 (and higher!) per page, depending on which magazine and whether the ad was color.

Jill did not have $40,000.

The only other way I could get my dresses in stores was to go on the road doing truck shows. I’d put my gowns in the trunk of my car, drive to different stores, show my gowns to store owners, and hope they’d order one. Stores might take a dress on consignment, which means I’d give it to them for free. If they sold it, they’d pay me. If not, they’d give back the dress.

I couldn’t afford the materials to make dresses for free. Nor did I have the time to go on the road and try and hand sell my line. Brad and I had bills to pay.

A crossroads

The bottom line: I had a pretty good head for business planning, but I was terrible at finance and I hated sewing. My biggest skills were in patternmaking. But I had gone to college for design. I thought about going back to major in patternmaking, but after much prayer, I decided to let this dream go.

My husband was experiencing a similar dilemma. He had dreamed of becoming a movie director. But after four years of working in the film industry in Los Angeles, he too was at a crossroads.

All we really knew was that God was asking us to trust him. And looking back I see that he wanted us to stop striving so hard for fame and fortune. He wanted us to learn that those things would never satisfy.

And when I look back on my desire to be a fashion designer, sure, I had some skill, but I grabbed hold of that dream because some people had praised my skills and some had told me I’d fail. Neither of those reasons were godly motivations. They were both motivations of pride. Pride isn’t always a bad thing, but it should never be our primary motivation. Our primary motivations should come from God.

Had I wasted eight years of my life on the wrong thing? No way. I learned and grew so much through those experiences. I might not have been following God in my pursuit of fashion, but God knew I needed to experience that journey—to find out for myself. Like a child who is told the stove is “hot,” often times the child doesn’t learn what “hot” really means until he experiences the pain of touching and feeling it.

So I entered a new phase in my life. I was ready to see what God wanted me to be when I “grew up.”

Wherever you are in life, whatever you “want to be” or truly feel “called to be,” wait on God’s perfect timing. Trust that he has a plan for your life that can’t be beat. Trust that each day’s journey is important. And trust that everything you experience is part of your story. If I hadn’t chased my dream of being a fashion designer, not only would I still wonder today if I had totally missed out, I wouldn’t be the same person. That journey is part of who I am.

Don’t be in a hurry to live your life. Slow down. Enjoy each moment. Serve God in each moment, for that is what God wants each of us to be when we grow up: His servant. Trust him in all things, and he will lead you where he wants you in his perfect timing.

How about you? Do you feel God is calling you to something specific? Or do you feel a little lost with what you should do with your life? What are some ways that you say “yes” to God each day?

Snorkeling with Stingrays

Posted by on Apr 17th, 2012 in Adventures in Life, Jill Williamson's Blog | 3 comments

2. Go scuba diving (or snorkeling, if that’s the only option).

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post called Ten Adventures to Try in 2012. As I attempt each adventure throughout the year, I’ll blog about them to let you know how it went.

I really wanted to try scuba diving. Someday I will. But it turned out that scuba diving was not an option on our cruise–at least that we could find. And since I’m not going near the ocean for the rest of 2012, I went ahead and snorkeled with some sting rays while I was on vacation with my family. We went on a Disney Cruise (lots of fun), which stopped one day at Castaway Cay, the Disney-owned island. On the island we visited Castaway Rays Stingray Adventure (click link to learn more)

Me and my kids and the Disney Dream

Me and my kids and the Disney Dream

You might think swimming with stingrays is dangerous. I suppose it could be–anywhere else. But this was Disney. And they had trimmed the barbs from all their stingrays. So the only real danger was that we might step on a stingray and freak each other out. To keep this from happening, Disney taught us the stingray shuffle. This is different from the Cupid Shuffle. For the stingray shuffle, you walk without lifting your feet–kind of sliding them along the sandy ocean floor. That way, you scare the stingray away before accidentally stepping on her.

Her–that’s right. All the stingrays on Castaway Cay were female–save one. One male with a whole lot of females. I’m sure he isn’t too sad about that.

These were Southern Stingrays. Most of them were between 2 1/2 to 4 feet in diameter.  We got to feed them these slimy, clumpy sticks that looked like seaweed Jello. I put one between my fingers, standing up like a little tree, laid my palm flat on this floating feeding station, and the stingray swam over my hand and sucked it out. It felt like a tiny, super-powered vacuum. The picture makes it look like she’s eating my hand. Kissy kissy kissy!

I feed a stingray seaweed Jello

I feed a stingray seaweed Jello

If you’ve never tried snorkeling, the experience might be strange or even scary at first, especially if you’re not a great swimmer. My kids felt this way.  You just have to remember to only breathe through your mouth. Once you’re doing it, your breathing sounds funny, like you’re Darth Vader, or something. And I always end up tasting the ocean when I’m done. (Can’t quite figure out where I’m going wrong there…) But it’s so much fun to be able to clearly see under water. I felt like a shark.

Me and Luke chasing some stingrays

Me and Luke chasing some stingrays

There wasn’t a lot to see in this Disney lagoon besides the stingrays and the occasional white fish. I snorkeled once before in Maui, and that was amazing because it was a coral reef with all kinds of tropical fish. The contrast in color from Castaway Rays whites and pale blues and Maui’s bright, tropical colors was massive. But this experience was something I will always remember, though I don’t think I’d do it again just because of the cost.

How about you? Have you ever tried snorkeling? What’s your best snorkeling story, or where do you think is one of the best places to snorkel? Leave a comment and let me know.

Wise Words About Wisdom

Posted by on Apr 10th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog | 0 comments

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” –Proverbs 4:6

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” –Oprah Winfrey

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” –Job 12:12

“The art of having wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” –William James

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” –Saint Augustine

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” –Proverbs 11:2

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” –Thomas Jefferson

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” –James 1:5

“In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it – thou art a fool.” –Lord Chesterfield

 

Hope’s Song by Rebecca St. James and VeggieTales

Posted by on Apr 8th, 2012 in Adventures in Life, Jill Williamson's Blog | 0 comments

Happy Easter, everyone!

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Hope’s Song by Rebecca St. James and VeggieTales

There’s a story that started on Christmas
When a baby was born in the night
And those who came far, who followed the star
Were seeing a heavenly sight …
a heavenly sight.

Well the years hurried by, and the boy, now a man
Could make the blind see with a touch of his hand
He was born to be King — he was Rabbi and Priest
But the best that he had, he gave to the least …
He gave to the least.

He was born and he died, almost 2,000 years ago
He laughed and he cried, he felt all the fears we know
But what does it matter? A story so strange …
Even if it is true, what does it change?
What does it change?

Well he spoke like a prophet — like no one they’d heard
This simple young carpenter — crowds hung on every word
He hated injustice — He taught what is right
He said “I’m the way, and the truth, and the light.”

His friends soon believed that truly he was the one.
The Savior, Messiah, God’s one and only son.
But others, they doubted, they did not agree
So they took him, they tried him,
He died on a tree …
He died on a tree.

God has made a way
for all who mourn and grieve
Death will never be the end
if you just believe.

There is nothing left to fear
nothing Heaven knows
For he died for us to give us life
and to give us hope He rose
He died for us to give us life
And to give us hope He rose.