My Two Favorite Beauty Queens

janet     jane

My attitude towards beauty pageants and beauty contestants for many years was much the same as Gracie Hart’s initial attitude in the movie Miss Congeniality. Disgust. Major disapproval. After all, beauty is only skin deep, right? And what beauty queens are beautiful except on the outside?

Not until I met the two women who became my favorite beauty queens and learned to admire the women inside those evening gowns and swimsuits did I learn how wrong I’d been. Uh, not that I’ve ever known any other ones.

Strangely enough, I met Janet Roller and Jane Herlong (pictured left to right above) at the same place, the Lifeway Conference Center at Ridgecrest, North Carolina.

Janet led the worship music at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) for several years (and will do that again next month for the Novelist Retreat at Ridgecrest). She’s one of the best musicians that conference has ever had and has written a number of songs and at least one novel so far.

I don’t know how many CDs she’s recorded, but I have two of them. She’s also a teacher and motivational speaker. Oh, and did I mention she’s an excellent pianist?

Jane was the keynote speaker at the BRMCWC banquet one year. “Speaker” is an inadequate description of Jane, even though she has recently been inducted into the prestigious CPAE Hall of Fame for her speaking; she is both a gifted singer and a hilarious comedian. Oh, and now an author of several nonfiction books as well. Not to mention the endorser of one of my yet-unpublished novels.

Janet is a, uh, a few years younger than Jane, but they’re both still attractive women. I can only imagine how they must’ve looked as Miss South Carolinas–yes! they’re both from the same state–at an earlier stage of their lives. But the important thing is they are both wonderful and talented ladies, using their talents for the Lord.

Both women are quite approachable. No conceit about accomplishments past or present. (Neither became a Miss America.) In fact, I especially treasure both of them because of their receptivity to a request I made about one of my original songs–one I’d written as a duet.

During different years, Jane and Janet agreed to sightread my song and sing it with me just for the heck of it. How many professional singers do you know who would do something like that?

Nobody else was around at the time that I can recall, but that wouldn’t have mattered. They didn’t act like they were lowering themselves to sing a song with a non-professional like me. In fact, Jane emailed me these gracious words after the conference: “Roger- It was such fun meeting you and sharing your wonderful music!  Thanks for letting me sing with you!”

Jane and Janet, you’re beautiful people inside and out, and I feel blessed to know both of you.

Do you have someone special you’d like to write a tribute to? Feel free to do so in a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Old Enough to Ask for Help Occasionally?

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When I was younger, I wasn’t very good at asking for help. I remember being ill while working at a summer job out-of-state (I was just into my first year or two of teaching). My coworkers stopped by my dorm room each morning to see whether I would make it to work that day. This went on for four or five days.

Forget work. I wasn’t even strong enough to make it to the dining room to eat.

I needed to go to the infirmary, but I wasn’t up to walking and wouldn’t have felt safe driving. I kept waiting for my coworkers to ask if they could do anything for me. I would gladly have told them I needed a ride to the infirmary.

But they didn’t offer, and I was too proud to ask. Too proud and too sick.

Fortunately, the bug worked its way out of my system eventually, and I woke up one morning feeling stronger—and hungry for the first time in days. I made it to the dining hall with ease.

I could tell you other stories about times as an adult when I needed help, but—for one reason or another—refused to ask for it.

Flash forward to this week. I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC. The faculty was tremendous, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends I only see at the BRMCWC.

I had an inspired thought. Something I hadn’t planned to do until recently. But it would require asking for help. And from someone VERY well known—at least to Fox News fans.

I’d met Fox commentator Todd Starnes at previous conferences. I knew his blog has a tremendous following, and he was in the midst of a promotional book tour for his newest book, God Less America. Talk about a busy man…

But what did I have to lose?

I asked if he would consider writing a foreword for the upcoming release of my novel, The Devil & Pastor Gus. He looked over my one-sheet summary and—I still can’t believe it!—said he would be honored.

That’s the kind of stuff Cloud Nine is made out of.

Several days later I turned around to see who the instructor kept addressing as Jane. She looked awfully familiar, but it took me till the end of class to be positive that she was Jane Herlong. Jane is not just a writer, but a wonderful singer, a brilliant women’s speaker, and a hilarious comedienne. Oh, and did I mention she’s also a former Miss South Carolina?

We’d met when she was on the faculty several years earlier. I’d sung some of my original songs for her and she did a duet with me. All for fun, of course. Not for the conference itself. And she emailed me shortly afterwards to thank me for the privilege of letting her sing with me. Can you imagine? She’s the professional singer, not me.

Practically as soon as I realized the familiar lady in the back of the room was Jane Herlong, the thought came to mind—I’m assuming it was divine inspiration—to ask if she’d be willing to write the foreword for another book that’s pending publication, Impractically Yours.

She didn’t even have to think about it. She would be honored to help me that way.

I emailed her a copy, and she started reading it almost immediately. Today I received a message that she LOVES it!

Lord, thank You for helping me reach the point in my life where I’m willing to take a chance and ask other people for help—sometimes, at least. But I know You’re still the ultimate source of all the help I’ll ever need, and I praise You for that.

I’ll let you decide which of the pictures at the top of this post is of me with Todd and which one is with Jane.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”–check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger