Some of you may know that I’m working on a children’s book series, Ella Jean the Jelly Bean Queen. In this series, the main character is a young adventurer who finds herself tempted, caught in various mishaps and trials in this crazy little world she found through a doorway just down the hall from her laundry room. She has a thing for jelly beans and her own unique sense of style. I’ll share more about our friend later. But it occurred to me that I used to be like Ella Jean, dreaming up different story lines and predicaments. I would find myself entrapped in storylines and difficult situations where I had to either get myself out of or heaven forbid…be rescued by a handsome prince or two. My youth revolved around imaginary situations and dreams of who I would be or what I would do. I can tell you that I spent a good part of my childhood dreaming of being an astronaut. True story. I remember dreaming and even filling out applications to Space Camp. The idea of going through the training that a real astronaut went through sounded thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. The stars and space were always something that intrigued me…maybe it was the unknown, the idea of unexplored territory. Maybe it was the adventure. Something about adventure has always excited me. I would lie in the grass looking up at the sky plotting my next escapade. The closet was my rocket ship filled with blankets and books. I would spend hours in the backyard and the woods behind my house pretending all kinds of different escapades. As I sit here writing this I’m grinning ear to ear remembering running across the open field and diving into the woods and hiding behind the big rock quickly so no one would see me. Climbing in the old apple tree and swinging across the laundry line as if hot lava were below. My smile grows wider as I recall my daughter just last week was using the couch cushions to jump over the hot lava and get to the other side of the ravine. It amazes me how 30 some years later the same great adventures never change. We complain about technology and how the world has changed, yet the simple things are still there. The mind of a child deep at its core is still the same. The adventures might change slightly but dreams are still an adventure. Life should still be an adventure. That’s what Ella Jean is all about to me. In a sense I am Ella Jean and so is Grace, my five year old daughter. The beauty of it is that so is my girlfriend’s six year old son, Anderson. So is another girlfriend’s twelve year old daughter, Anna. They are all Ella Jean. In some ways we all hold that adventurous spirit deep within. We have dreams that make us smile; things that make us want to keep pushing towards another day. Goals that make us get out of bed in the morning. When you read Ella Jean the Jelly Bean Queen, and you will (the author says smiling) you will feel parts of yourself light up like a child and you will also remember truths that you told yourself to remember, and morals you promised yourself, perhaps your loved ones and God you’d live by. I hope it brings you closer to the truths you want to remember about yourself. I hope it helps children of every age and background find who they want to be and what adventures they want to have. So they can read the book or have it read to them and then set it down and have their own adventures. My prayer is that we all remember that there are adventures still to be had and hot lava to be jumped, we just need to find it.