Some of you who read this blog, probably read Jeneil Russell’s blog too. She writes beautifully of family life, autism, and faith, always faith. And she has this way of making you fall in love with whomever she loves. Her daughters Rhema and Hope. Her twin sister. Her husband. God.
Recently, Jeneil’s husband Brandon hi-jacked her blog and told her readers about a little booky she wrote a few years back called Sunburned Faces. Jeneil had never mentioned it on her blog! It is about a stint she served in Ethiopia, working as a volunteer in a medical clinic when she was barely twenty.
Jeneil is the rare writer who can whole heartedly, and steadfastly proclaim her faith, while never making anyone else feel wrong or threatened. She just knows what she knows. I subscribe to the now cliche’ “spiritual but not religious” notion, and I never feel judged or cast aside by Jeneil for not believing exactly as she does.
Sunburned Faces is amazing. First of all, she was twenty when she was writing it, and it is so well written! Secondly, she’s seen things most of us will never, ever see. I learned so much about that part of the world, just by Jeneil’s tiny peek into it. Also, because Jeneil wrote it, I fell in love with the characters in her book. One of them will be with me forever. I just know it. I do not say that lightly.
I read Sunburned Faces just before Christmas, and it was powerful to do so at that time. We have so much. We do. Many people in the world have so little. It was good to be reminded, to be mindful of our blessings. In the holiday rush, I’d have a little thought, “I wonder if we should have gotten the kids….this or that, or whatever,” and remember they lack for nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I’ll be doing a Q & A with Jeneil one day soon here.