Always With You

Sticks and Stones…but Names…

There’s a lot of things I don’t remember.  A lot.

But I do remember the sing-songy sound of

Sticks and stones will break my bones,

But names will never hurt me.

We must have sung that a lot when I was in elementary school. I still remember the third-grade pitch, rhythm, and melody in my head.  It must have been the second most-sung song after the diddies we jumped rope too.  M,I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, P, P, I, and so on.

But who knew I’d remember one name I was called in third grade.  One name which has colored by life, determined decisions I made, products I bought (or my mother bought by the car load), how I felt about myself, or what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

One name.  Spoken by a kid who, I’m sure, has absolutely no recollection of ever saying anything to me.

One name I chose to embrace as defining me.  One name I still have to work through – even these many years after third grade.

Third grade – at the tender age of nine – the year I began my menstral cycle!!!  What gives?

I must have been a hormonal wreck because my face immediately exhibited, for all the world to see, a polka-dotted pimple effect.

One morning, one bad morning, when no amount of Clearasil could conceal my mess of a face, the boy who sat in front of me called out to the whole class, “Hey, look at Ruthie.  She’s UGLY with all those pimples on her face.”

That’s all it took.  One name.  On one morning.

Yup!  One name.  One time.

Do you remember something somebody called you – one thoughtless name – or an often repeated statement – when you were in third grade?  A name you’ve never forgotten?  A name you’ve had to work through?  A name which has defined you to yourself?

If you’ve had a similar experience, could you email me or reply to this post with a

Yes or No   If a name or a statement was said to you

Yes or No   that you’ve had to spend some time working through it.

Just gotta’ know.  No details necessary unless you want to share.

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee
Journey of Faith

There’s Something “Right” About Getting it Wrong

I don’t know how many of you were raised hearing, “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.”

I just spoke with a friend of mine who reminded me of  hearing that as he was growing up.

It brought me back.   Funny how you don’t have to hear that phrase too many times before it
starts tumbling around in your head or even worse, in your heart.

And it tumbles into the spaces of your brain, just as you  are thinking of attempting something you’ve never done before.  Just as you’re thinking of attempting  something no one has ever taught you – as you’re thinking about exploring  something new and, according to the conventional wisdom of your family, is just  a little crazy or something “we don’t do.”   And if you listen, you stop. You don’t try.  It’s too risky.

I often think of when I began writing books for  children.  I didn’t know anything about  ”right”  writing.  In fact, I didn’t even know I didn’t know  anything.  But I was invited to an SCBWI  (Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators)  critique group.  If I had known how little I knew, I probably  would never have even read my first manuscript.  But because I was so completely uninformed, I read a very “un–right”  first attempt.  Nobody in that group said  my story was awful.  Nobody said it was  good.  They just asked me questions about  plot, and audience, and voice, and character, and a host of other things I  didn’t know.  And because they were some  of the most encouraging people on the planet, I dared to learn and return and  read again, and learn some more, and eventually get published.

It’s amazing how daring to try what you can’t get “right”  the first time encourages you to try again.
But if we measure any possibility, challenge, opportunity, experience,  job, “crazy” idea by whether we can do it “right,” we end up living in a box of  undone dreams.

It’s scary to get it “wrong” when you’ve tried to get it  “right” all your life.  But there’s a lot  of exciting stuff that happens in the faltering or failed attempts, the  mistakes, the flubs, the “foot-in-your-mouth” conversations, the falls, the  walked-through fears when you go out on a limb and don’t care if you “get it  right” but rather find excitement and growth in the trying.

And eventually, you get a few things “right.”  But as soon as you do, there’s something else  just around the corner that presents a new challenge for getting it wrong.

But now I remember something else I heard a lot. “If at  first you don’t succeed; try, try again.”

And that helps me remember the exhilaration, endless possibilities,  and joy of discovery when I experience how “right” it is to get it wrong.

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee
Journey of Faith

Ruth Vander Zee

Ruth Vander Zee
On our journey, I believe Jesus desires us to be our authentic, child-of-God selves.

Latest Book

Ruth Vander Zee
How Jesus encourages, empowers and equips women on their personal journey of faith.
Read More
Purchase the Book at Amazon
Purchase the Book at Barnes and Noble