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Susan McGeown

Author, Speaker, & Teacher

Thoughts

Thoughts

I try my best to blog about information that will be beneficial

and worth your time to read. 

And I love questions and suggestions... (hint, hint.)

view:  full / summary

Christian Fiction and Me

Posted by Susan McGeown on 16 May, 2010 at 16:45 Comments comments (3)

I didn’t set out to be categorized as a Christian fiction author.  In fact,when pressed to admit it, I don’t really enjoy reading Christian fiction that much so why would I want to be associated with it? Christian fiction, in case you don’t know, is fiction writing which promotes the Christian faith and its tenants. Even more importantly for me, Christian fiction almost always follows the guidelines set down by Christian Booksellers Association (CBA).  “In most instances, those guidelines are very conservative.  The CBA wants “chaste relationships…the emotional side of love without the physical.  Some of the guidelines include the heroine never appearing in her nightgown outside of the bedroom, no profanity or even 'substitute’ words such as “shuck” “heck” and “darn.”  They want little or no reference to aparticular denomination, divorce is a no-no, sensuality is very limited and “unless it’s something the characters struggle with” must be done sparsely and very tactfully.  Drinking, dancing, and other controversial subjects such as water –and Spirit- baptism, women preachers, and so on are also frowned upon. Issues such as abuse and domestic violence are usually only ‘hinted at’ and if delved into to any degree, must be handled with tremendous care.[i]”


Based on those guidelines, I’m not so sure the Bible would qualify …


My Christianity is as integral apart of me as my hazel eyes, my brown hair, my passionate need to organize, my joy of teaching and my rather bizarre ability to remember phone numbers more easily than a person’s first name.  For me, being a Christian is not an aspect that you take out, like you would a pair of glasses; sometimes you need it and sometimes you don’t.  In reality, my faith is more important than any other aspect of who Susan Lee McGeown is. It was a conscious choice I made when I was only eight years old and has literally been the driving force, the directional lamp, and the primary purpose of everything I’ve done since.  I’d like to think that it affects everything I do and so, consequently, it might be accurate to call me a Christian shopper, a Christian driver, a Christian cook,a Christian tax payer, a Christian knitter …


When I graduated from college (so long ago that two of the schools I attended have actually changed their names), I had no desire to teach in a Christian school. I didn’t want to work in the insular world of Christian academia where textbooks and curriculum were chosen not so much for their quality and accuracy but for the author’s spiritual caliber.  You see, I didn’t need to be in a Christian school in order to be a Christian teacher.  In public school, I regularly shared my faith and my morals and invited my students to do the same, with stunningly positive results.  We had guest speakers that spoke of Passover and Hanukkah (potato pancakes and chocolate gelt!), Dwali (I met my British mother in law for the first time with both my hands decorated with intricate henna designs), and Christmas and Easter (my childhood Sunday school teacher came in and told the stories with felt figures).  Do you think I made God smile in my thirteen year career as a public school teacher?  I think I did.


When writing surfaced as a passion in my life (after babies), I did not embark on the path with the intention of becoming a Christian author anymore than I had intentions of becoming a Christian teacher or a Christian mother or a Christian wife.  I just am all those things.  I can’t … not be.  What I set out to be was a writer, plain and simple.  Mind you, I wanted to be an excellent one; a respected one.  And I knew for certain that it was going to be a never ending goal.  Now the fact that I believe that my stories –the ideas and the skills to write them - are gifts from God certainly is reflected in the style in which I write. How could it not be?  And again, my only goal is to make God smile with what I produce. 


I have a new favorite Bible verse.  It’s found in Ephesians, chapter three, verse twenty.  “Now glory be to God.  By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever dare hope or ask.[ii]”  That’s the essence of what I believe being a Christian is all about.  It’s God’s power, working within us, producing results that are so amazing it never even occurred to us to ask for them. 


I’ve trusted God to help me be the very best I can be whether I’m an elementary school teacher, a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, or a daughter.  And I’ll trust Him to continue to help and guide me now that I’m an women’s fiction author.

 

[i]Christian Fiction or Inspirational?  What’sThe Difference and Where to Market it.  ByPamela S. Thibodeaux  http://www.fundsforwriters.com/christianfiction.htm

[ii]Ephesians 3:20, New Living Translation,Tyndale House Publishers

 


They Called Her Faith

Posted by Susan McGeown on 14 May, 2010 at 12:55 Comments comments (0)

This was written in response to the writing prompt "Tell about a memorable event from your life."  I wrote it while I was teaching a 5th grade literacy class

to demonstrate a high-scoring essay example.


Faith


“Faith” was a funny name, but I didn’t realize that at first.  When my sister Faith was born, I wasn’t even four yet so I don’t remember much about her in those early years.  There were two things that early on made her as unique as her name, though.  I know these things because I heard stories.

 

The first thing was that she was very, very smart.  She would sit in her playpen, as a baby, propped up with pillows because she was too little to sit up yet, doing those baby puzzles matching shapes and patterns.  When she began to speak, she immediately spoke in full sentences, not just single words.  Sometimes she got the words mixed up, which could be funny.  “Lazy bones out of that bed get!,” she told my dad one morning.  “Daddy can’t tell my talking,” she cried to my mother when he refused to budge out of bed.  She could read before she went to school.

 

The second thing was that she was very, very sick.  Her first trip to the hospital was before she was three.  I remember hushed whispers, aunts coming to take care of me, Mom and Dad away during times that they were usually home, and a general feeling of worry and fear in the house.  I’m not exactly sure when I first learned that Faith had “CF”.  It was even longer to learn that “CF” was Cystic Fibrosis.

 

Cystic Fibrosis is considered a genetic disease.  That means that is has to be in your genes when you are born.  Genes are what make you you.  You get genes from your mom and dad.  To get Cystic Fibrosis, you need one sick gene from your mother and one sick gene from your father.  Some kids get no sick genes from their parents.  Some kids just get just one and forever they are called carriers.  (If one carrier marries and has a baby with another carrier, they are the ones that can make a Cystic Fibrosis child.)  Some kids get both sick genes and they are the ones that end up sick.  Faith got both sick genes from my mom and dad, who were both carriers.  (They had no idea about being carriers until after Faith was born and became sick.)  I found out many, many years later that I didn’t get any sick genes.  My other sister, Amy, who is eleven years younger than me, turned out to be a carrier.

 

In high school health class I did a report on Cystic Fibrosis.  I chose the topic because I figured it would be easy to research.  My Mom and Dad had all kinds of information about it.  I wouldn’t even have to go to the library! I knew about the sicknesses like pneumonia and stomach ailments that Faith dealt with all the time.  I knew about all the medications that Faith had to take – sometimes up to fifty different pills and drops a day.  I knew about the special treatments she had to have like postural drainage where she laid on a board with her head down and had to have her back “clapped” to loosen the thick mucus she had in her lungs all the time.  I knew about the special equipment that she needed like the mist tent that she slept in each night to help her breathe better.  How many times had I watched her do the inhalator that she breathed with three times a day to put special medicine right into her lungs? How easy was this report going to be or what?  As I waded through the different pieces of literature my Mom had given me, making sure I had all the right terms and spellings, one sentence was absolutely new to me though: Cystic Fibrosis children rarely live to their teens.  That was when I learned that Faith was going to die.

 

She died on January 30th, just five months before she would have turned eleven and I was just fifteen.  Hers was the first wake (when you go to see the person who has died) and the first funeral (when the person is buried) that I attended.  My memories around the days she died and was buried are foggy, almost like a dream. For a full week before she died I had a reoccurring nightmare that Iwould be in high school English class and the speaker would click on from the office and before anyone even spoke I would know that Faith had died.  In my dream I started crying and couldn’t get out of the classroom and everyone laughed at me.  Guess where I was when my father came to school to get me and bring me home because Faith had died?  You guessed it; in English class.  I was so flustered when the speaker clicked on and someone from the office asked the teacher to send me down, I couldn’tget the doorknob to turn and all the kids laughed at me as I struggled to leave the classroom.

 

I don’t like to tell a lot of people about my childhood and Faith because they always look at me with sorry eyes and sometimes nothing to say but, “Oh…”  I hate the question, “How many sisters do you have?”  What am I supposed to tell them?  If I say, “One,” meaning mysister, Amy, then I leave out Faith.  If I say, “Two,” then I always must say, “but one sister died when I was fifteen and she was almost eleven.”  I’ve had a wonderful childhood, full of love and laughter and pretending and adventure and, yes, some sorrow.  Faith and I fought like sisters do and we played like sisters do, too.  Her being sick didn’t seem to be a big part of the picture with most of the memories I have of her.

 

As I grow older, the way I miss her changes. When she first died, I missed her presence in the house because things were so very different.  At night, lying in bed I would imagine that I would hear her coughing and I even missed the sound of the compressor running her mist tent. In my twenties, before I got married, I missed her friendship.  It would have been nice to have a sister old enough to travel to Europe and Africa with me when I did those things.  Now, I’m a mom and I miss how she would have been as an aunt to my children and as a sister-in-law to my husband.  I wonder what would it have been like to have been to her wedding and laughed with her over the babies she might have had.  When I’m old and gray, I suspect I’ll miss her in even another way.

 

Even though Faith’s life was very short, she taught me a lot.  She taught me to never judge a person just by what you see.  She may have looked tiny but she was stubborn and opinionated. She was not afraid to question doctors or nurses about her treatment if she thought they were doing something wrong. She taught me that you need to make the most of what you have and don’t grumble over the stuff you’re missing. She was too sick to run and play and even go to school towards the end of her life but that didn’t slow her down. She loved to read, play board games, do puzzles, and play with her dolls.  She had some close friends that she greatly enjoyed playing with and were very special to her.  She taught me that being determined about something sometimes was stronger than what people said was the way of things.  She taught herself to jump rope despite the fact that it made her cough terribly and made those who cared about her concerned, because she simply wanted to be able to do it.  She taught me that life, no matter how bleak, could still have a bit of humor in it. When she was too sick to attend school, they arranged for her to have a radio hook up with her class so she could listen and participate at times.  Faith discovered that if the lesson didn’t interest her, she could just shut the radio off and read a good book!  And she taught me that God was real and personal.  She wanted to be a missionarywhen she grew up so that she could go and tell others about how wonderful God truly was.

 

The definition of faith in the dictionary is “confidence or trust in a person or thing”, “belief in God”, “loyalty to aperson or thing” and “a set of principles of beliefs”.  My parents didn’t know that Faith was going to be sick when they named her.  But they did already have a strong faith in God and a trust that He knew what was best in all things.  There is a Bible verse that I love in the book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, verse one. It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.”  That means seeing is not always believing.  That means God’s promises always come true.

 

Being Faith’s sister certainly qualifies as a “memorable event” in my life.  Being her sister has greatly influenced the personI am today.  I am stronger, more opinionated, more understanding of people who have “special needs” and, best of all, closer to God than I may have been.  Faith has been in heaven now for almost thirty years.  I have faith that I will see her again, when it is my turn to go to heaven, too.

 


My Spiritual Journey

Posted by Susan McGeown on 23 March, 2010 at 10:17 Comments comments (0)


I was raised in a Christian home.  I have no memory when Church, God, and Prayer were not an integral part of my life.  My parents, married for 45 years, have shown a faithful commitment to God even through the hardest of times including the death of one child at 11 due to Cystic Fibrosis.  I remember standing at the bedside of my mother in 1998, as she lay there recovering from a surgery to remove a brain tumor.  My younger sister that same month had just finished her radiation treatment for nonHodgkin’s lymphoma.  I said, “I don’t know what to tell everyone, Mom.  They keep saying, ‘How could God let this happen?’  I just don’t have agood answer…”  “Oh Susan,” she said, “don’t you think that the Lord is grieving right along with us?  This is not a perfect world, we don’t have perfect bodies.  I have every confidence that He is in control of all of this and He is right here beside us as we go through it.”  That’s the kind of parents I grew up with…

 

At age 8, I made the personal decision to ask the Lord to come into my heart and be My Savior.  This was not something in character for me, nor was it a whim or just done because everyone else was doing it.  I was a shy, quiet, regularly-terrified-of-everything type of child.  To go through all the motions involved inmaking a profession of faith:  making the initial request and standing before the church, interviewing with the Pastor, attending the special baptismal classes, meeting and being questioned by the deacon board, and participating in the full submersion baptism, truly was the Holy Spirit’s work.  I remember feeling not alone.  I remember feeling comfort when I was fearful.  I rememberbeing unable to NOT take this journey.  At 8 years old, this still is the defining moment for me in my spiritual journey.  It was not until I was much older that I realized what a gift this was, this personal calling.

 

The desire to be a teacher has been with me from about age 6.  I kept a journal, as soon as I could write, of things I would and would not do as a teacher.  My high school guidance counselor tried to discourage me from this path as it was not a “promising professional choice” at that time.  It was another instance of me being unable to NOT take the journey.  My chosen profession is part of my spiritual journey because so much of what I am about has to do with my love of teaching. The Lord has made this gift in me His Tool.  It was not until I was much older that I realized what a gift this was, this knowing what I wanted to be.

 

It was through my professional successes that I gained personal confidences.  Through my 20’s I became an opinionated, outspoken, confident young woman.  It was not a smooth journey.  It was not necessarily an exemplary journey.  But the Lord was always there, always faithful, always consistent.  My spiritual journey in my twenties taught me to be thankful in all things – good and bad.  It was in my twenties that I learned that even the difficult parts of life must be lived through to get to the places where He wants you to be.

 

My thirties brought marriage and motherhood. If there is a lesson to be learned there, it is that some things are worth that wait – even for over thirty years.  Marriage, to a man who supported, encouraged and inspired you, helped me achieve things I didn’t even know to dream about. 

 

In my thirties I went from the mother of one child, to two children, to three children. I also became a Children’s minister, a deacon, Preschool Committee Chair, the Head of the Deacons, led a Bible study out of my home , and was one of three people on the Pastor Oversight Committee at our old church.  I led meetings, organized church functions, and helped get a preschool up and running. I regularly found myself in very difficult situations making tough decisions, writing strong directives and dealing with people that would have at one point in my life intimidated me into speechlessness.  I cannot tell you how many times I got in my car after a very difficult late night meeting and thought, “Who was that person speaking so eloquently and diplomatically in there?  Where in the world did those words come from?!?”  Although it came from my mouth, it was not me speaking.  In those difficult times I grew more spiritually then I ever had in my entire life.  During my thirties, I learned that anyone – regardless of race or gender – can do anything if the Lord wants them to.  It was during this part of my spiritual journey that I came to the passionate belief that those who exclude women in positions of authority in a church just because of gender are wrong. 

 

Here I am in my forties now.  My spiritual journey is not over!  This little Baptist girl seems to be headed toward becoming an Old Reformed Woman.  Ha.  I like realizing that while religions distinguish themselves because of different histories and methods of worship there are still many who recognize Christ asThe Way, The Truth and The Life.  Whether I call myself  Baptist or Reformed, the important thing is that I am using what the Lord has given me in a way that pleases Him.  I still am passionately involved in my Ladies Home Bible Study. We’ve studied all the women of the Bible, all the major religions, and now we’re working through the men of the Bible. We’ve been meeting faithfully for over 4 years.  I’ve enjoyed running VBS here at NBRC two years in a row and I don’t think Joy’s going to let me escape for quite a while.  I’m now doing the Young Pioneers and having a hoot with that.  Joy’s got me signed up for teaching the Adult Class for three weeks in January.  I have fun seeing where the Lord is sending me.  David and I have a saying,“Breathless Anticipation of Things to Come.” We know the Lord won’t give us any less than we already have, but we really wonder sometimes, can it really get any better?

 

 

 


My Personal Beliefs

Posted by Susan McGeown on 23 March, 2010 at 9:20 Comments comments (1)

I believe:


·        In the Bible and its accounts of creation, miracles, and all other narrative accounts.


·        That The Bible is God’s perfect inspired word. It does not need any additions. It is complete.  All the answers we need to know are contained within it.


·        That The Lord has watched over me, guided me, loved me, cared for me, and had plans for me before I was even born.


·        That I am a sinner.


·        That I am incapable of earning a place in heaven through good works, good thoughts,or good behavior.  Nothing I can do on my own can justify my worthiness.


·        That Jesus Christ is God’s son and that His death on the cross was for me, personally.


·        That Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid the price for all the devastating guilt and responsibility of my sins.  He died, wa sburied, and rose from the dead.


·        That Jesus is my personal Savior and that He is the guiding force in my life.


·        That I will always be a sinner, but through Christ’s sacrifice I am forgiven.


·        That Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one gets into heaven except through His Grace.


·        That grace is unmerited favor.


·        That I am going to heaven and am assured eternal life because of The Lord’s Grace.


·        That heaven is the next step in God’ plan for me and I am eager to continue on this path, whatever it may be.


·        That my life is not my own.  Everything that happens, both good and bad, is an opportunity to glorify Christ here on earth.


·        That The Lord takes a personal interest in my life and that it is my job to make the most of these opportunities that He sends my way.


·        That my personal talents (teaching, leading, organizing) are directly from Him and should be used for His benefit at all times.


·        That there is never a time when it is not appropriate to speak of, glorify, and acknowledge The Lord and all his goodness.


·        That I still have much to learn, that I fail all the time, and that I continually fall short of what the Lord would have me do.


·        That the Holy Spirit resides in me, works through me, and guides me in all I do.


·        That The Lord makes no distinction between race or gender.  All are His to serve Him as He would have them serve.


·        That The Church here on earth is not a building, but a body of believers joined together with a common belief in Christ’s Message.  The Church’s only job is to spread Christ’s message of Salvation, Love, and Truth.


·        That my greatest personal achievement is to make The Lord smile over something I have done.


 

i thank You God

Posted by Susan McGeown on 16 February, 2010 at 9:09 Comments comments (0)
i thank You God

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:  for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any -- lifted from the no
of all nothing -- human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are open)

e.e. cummings

Brooding Blue

Posted by Susan McGeown on 30 January, 2010 at 20:33 Comments comments (0)

~Brooding Blue~

By Amy Carmichael


Lord of the brooding blue

Of pleasant summer skies,

Lord of each little bird

That through the clear air flies

'Tis wonderful to me

That I am loved by Thee.


Lord of the blinding heat,

Of mighty wind and rain,

The city's crowded street,

Desert and peopled plain,

'Tis wonderful to me

That I am loved by Thee.


Lord of night's jeweled roof,

Day's various tapestry,

Lord of the warp and woof

Of All that yet shall be,

'Tis wonderful to me

That I am loved by Thee.


Lord of my merry cheers,

My grey that turns to gold,

And my most private tears

And comforts manifold,

'Tis wonderful to me

That I am loved by Thee.

A Hopeful Confession of Faith

Posted by Susan McGeown on 24 January, 2010 at 14:40 Comments comments (1)

Today in church, we said this confession of faith out loud. 

I like it.  A lot. 


Surrounded by eternal love,

even in the face of evil,

we are a people of Hope

because we believe:

H:  Heaven and hell exist on earth and beyond, but God's purpose is heaven.


O:  Opportunites are hidden in every crisis.


P:  Problems are real, but in Christ, possibilities are endless.


E:  Eternal love is available for every earthly loss.


Rev. Todd Buurstra

Minister of North Branch Reformed Church

Bridgewater, New Jersey

The Deer's Path

Posted by Susan McGeown on 13 January, 2010 at 13:40 Comments comments (0)

 

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.


I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me,

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils

From temptations of vices

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone and in multitude.


Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me abundance of reward

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lay down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.


I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity

Through belief in the threeness

Through confession of the oneness

Of the Creator of creation


Excerpt, , circa 390-461 A.D.

God's Kinda Woman

Posted by Susan McGeown on 11 January, 2010 at 11:20 Comments comments (4)

God's Kinda Woman is:


Strong in the Lord

We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure.

This shows that the great power is from God, not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NCV)


Dedicated in her heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

Transformed utterly

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)


Childlike in her trust

I tell you the truth, you must accept the kingdom of God as if you were a child,

or you will never enter it.

Luke 18:17 (NCV)


Joyful in her strengths

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,

but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,

whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV)


Victorious in her weaknesses

Each time He said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness."

2 Corinthians 12:9a (NLT)


Battle ready

Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

Ephesians 6:10 (NLT)


REMEMBER:

I pray that from His glorious unlimited resources

He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.

Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.

Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand as all God's people should,

how wide,

how long,

how high,

and how deep His love is.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.

Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)

 

The ABCs of a Godly Life

Posted by Susan McGeown on 11 January, 2010 at 9:50 Comments comments (1)

 

A

Abandon Doubt About Your Abilities

B

Be Diligent In Following God’s

Still Small Voice

C

Call On Your Lord Regularly For Help

D

Dare To Be Different

E

Eagerly Embrace God’s Unfailing Promises

F

Forgive Faithfully

G

Give Joyful Truths

H

Hope Eternally

I

Initiate Kindness

J

Just Smile

K

Keep Pressing Forward

L

Love Faithfully

M

Make More Time For Prayer

N

No One Can Do Your Job

O

Open Your Heart To God

P

Pray

Q

Query Those You Trust

R

Read Your Bible

S

Stay True

T

Take All The Time You Need To Get It Right

U

Upset The World

V

Victory Is Assured

W

Wage War With Satan

X

X-Ray Your Heart and Fix What’s Broken

Y

Yearn For Goodness

Z

Zealously Pursue Your God-Given Goals


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