Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living
Sanctuary for You…
Hello, and welcome to McElligott, formerly Are You There, God? It’s Me, Generation. This is a blog about faith and family. I’m Jennifer McCollum, now writing under the pen name McElligott. I’m an American wife and mother. Thank you for stopping by!
I started this blog in 2008, for my generation, the so-called Generation X. Since that time, it has garnered more than 4,000 email subscribers and been nationally-featured in more than 50 publications including The Washington Post and National Associated Press.
Over time, the site has evolved into more of a faith and family blog. I share spiritual insights from my Christian faith and lessons I’ve learned along life’s boundless ocean. Topics I cover include:
- Family and Motherhood
- The Teachings of Jesus Christ
- History and Generations
- Vintage Snapshots and Photographs
♥ I also want to say that I love God, kids, poets, bloggers, trains, farms, cities, colors, history, home, churches and prayer. I also really like to take pictures.
I live in this prairie bungalow in Oklahoma City’s oldest neighborhood. Here is where my cup runneth over; where all my dreams of having my own family come true — one day at a time.
I’m very blessed.
The rural and urban landscapes that surround me form the backdrop of my life. I photograph and write about my journey, literal and spiritual, from the perspective of Gen-Xer in the 21st Century.
This is my life unfolding here on the Southern Great Plains. If you were here with me right now, we could take a walk together underneath the century-old trees that form canopies over the streets I call home. I would make a you a hot cup of coffee or maybe some tea. We’d talk about our kids and dreams. Hopes and fears. All the places we’ve been and the places we hope we’re going. And, I’d pray for you. We’d pray for each other.
What Else Will You Find Here?
In contrast to obscene click-bait and paid posts that have invaded the Blogosphere, this blog remains an uncommon collection of commentaries and memoirs.
There are also a lot of pretty pictures to see.
I collect old snapshots, faded photographs and 35 mm slides, which I love to share with readers. I have relatively few pictures from my youth and childhood, so I’m always looking to find myself — or at least my experiences — in other peoples’ photos. I cherish high-quality images of Generation X. For me, there will never be enough, for they exquisitely tell the story of our days and times. They contribute to this archive, which now represents about a decade of my life’s work.
Why I Blog About Generation X, Among Other Things
Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” –Norlin
This blog has always been devoted to understanding and explaining the journey of Generation X, the 13th generation of Americans born between 1961 and 1981. I started writing about Generation X as a way to bear witness to my own life experiences. My latchkey days. My teenage wasteland. I needed to write about the things I survived in my childhood and youth, so they would no longer have power over me. I wanted to shine a light on the dark shadows I pedaled through on my little banana seat bike on my way to the big rocket slide.
It was red, white and blue, but I couldn’t pedal fast enough. And, I was just one of millions in a generation full of under-protected children.
The celebrated writer and historian Neil Howe said that Generation X grew up during the most anti-child phase in modern history. Later, Tammy Erickson, author of What Next Gen X?, said Gen-Xers were the world’s most devoted parents. I feel I owe them both a debt of gratitude.
I hope my beloved children can forgive me for my devotion. For the latchkey years that produced these helicopter days. I’ve wanted only to preserve their innocence. That precious-glorious time in life known as childhood — when the damp forest floor of life is not lit by fear, but by fairies with gossamer wings.
So, I found my voice in writing about Generation X. Not as a celebrated historian (although I do – uh-um – have a degree in political science, which is basically history), but as someone who lived through it.
Here is a recent picture of me so you know who you’re dealing with. Please take note of all the books — the kind with spines! — and the laundry basket in the background. Also, I’m wearing a dress from Old Navy that cost $12.99. Already, you’ve learned a lot about me.
Faith and Politics
I believe every word stated in the Apostle’s Creed. I believe God wants our mercy more than our sacrifice. I believe Love is the most important thing. I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene. It is in my heart forever. My father was a minister and I was raised in parsonages. My husband is Catholic and I attend Mass with him and my children every week. We also attend a Nazarene church where I am able to fully worship and receive the Holy Sacraments. I am always thinking about converting to Catholicism, and I pray about it every day.
Spiritual books that have influenced me include:
- The Bible (I love The Message Ministry Edition: The Bible in Contemporary Language version, which Chloe gave me for birthday)
- The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
- Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People by Lewis Smedes
- One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
Be sure to check out other favorite books in the sidebar.
As far as politics, I am a registered Independent.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Growing Up Generation X
I was born in East Los Angeles in the late 1960s. This makes me a first-wave member of Generation X. (The years are 1961 to 1981.) I am the youngest of four kids. Like most Gen-Xers, I was a latchkey kid throughout most of my childhood and youth. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs, watching lots of TV and worrying about going to war with Russia. I ate a lot of cold cereal, which I loved! Cap’n Crunch and Frankenberry were the perfect companions to my Scooby Doo, Isis and Brady Bunch. As I grew older, I watched different shows and worried about different things, but I still ate the same cereal.
Growing Up With Terrorism
In my twenties, I worried about whether or not I’d be able to find a job with my expensive college degree. Reality Bites was an authentic narrative for many Gen-Xers. Well before terrorists blew up that plane over Lockerbie in 1988 (it killed 35 Gen X college students from Syracuse), I worried a lot about terrorism. Then, in 1995, it happened where I live in Oklahoma City. I lost a college classmate in that bombing. I have worried about terrorism my entire life. Things have only gotten worse.
My Years in Rural America
In 1974, my parents left Los Angeles and began a journey eastward. I ended up growing up in parsonages in rural towns across the Plains. I had a lot of fun in those small towns. I went to a lot of carnivals and county fairs and spent time on the farms of friends. But, I’ve never forgotten Huntington Beach and Pudding Stone; the orange groves, Kiddie Land, Bixby Elementary and so many other things about my early childhood in Southern California.
High School, College, Gen-Xers
I graduated from high school in 1985. There were 51 Gen-Xers in my graduating class. I went on to attend Southern Nazarene University where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech communication and political science. College was a wonderful time in my life. I treasure those years and all my memories and friends. After college, I went to work in public affairs at a large military base in Oklahoma City. It was great preparation for my career in public relations. Along the way, I did a lot of graduate work in history, geography, English and communications.
Marriage and Family
In 1991, I married my college boyfriend. In the fall of 1997, I gave birth to my first child, a daughter. I named her Juliette. That was the happiest day of my life. Despite all my dreams, in January 1999 we divorced. That was a really tough time in my life.
Divorce is an experience that never leaves you and it changed me. I hope someday I can write about those events.
Even though my years as a single mom were difficult, I have a lot of great memories of that time. It was just Juliette and me for four years. We went a lot of places and did a lot of fun things. In 2002, I met Robert at an art opening at the Oklahoma State Capitol. We were married exactly one year later in the Blue Room outside the Governor’s Office. Juliette was my flower girl. She was five. In 2005, my son Sullivan was born, and less than two years after that, Bridgette came along to complete our family. I am very blessed! Motherhood is the greatest adventure of my life.
For more than 20 years, I’ve made my career in public relations serving as the public information officer and spokesperson for several local and state government agencies. In 2007, I earned my accreditation in PR.
I was an early adopter of blogging, having started my first blog in 1999. This blog has been featured in a bunch of great publications including The Washington Post! Click here to see a list.
In 2015, I was invited to blog for Patheos, but inability to control truly awful click-bait ads set by the company caused me to abandon the opportunity.
In 2008, I bought a Nikon D60 and started taking pictures. It’s probably my favorite thing to do. My photography has been featured in Oklahoma Today, CNN, Velocity, Department of Veterans Affairs and many other publications and sites.
Today, I shoot with a Nikon D600. I love street photography and capturing every day life as it unfolds. I love to find magic in the ordinary and irony when nobody is looking.
What Do Other People Say About This Blog?
Here are some tweets from people talking about my blog. This first one is from Howe. As you can imagine, it made my day. He’s one of the 10 people on my dream dinner party guest list.
@_jenniferjames I totally LOVE your website. Props to your Judy Bloom allusion. 5 syllables is a lot for a gen name. But omg u take me back.
— Neil Howe (@HoweGeneration) July 5, 2016
— CallTheMarketingGuy (@OurMarketingGuy) February 20, 2015
— Melissa Llarena (@CareerOutcomes) December 9, 2012
— Benny Jacobs (@BennyJacobs) October 4, 2010
@_jenniferjames LOVE your piece, your list, your perspective!
— Erin Mantz (@ErinMantz) October 26, 2016
— Kara Bachman (@80sMomKara) August 22, 2016
— Kelly Ballard (@MrsBulldogRev) October 7, 2016
— sarahp (@sarahs_p) April 4, 2016
@_jenniferjames Good to meet you! You live in OKC? I am a student in Bricktown! I just read a bit of your blog. I love it. Great writer.
— Amy Watkins (@awattykins) February 13, 2013
— I AM FRIDAY (@1FridayAtATime) May 17, 2012
Contributor – Chloe Koffas
Chloe Koffas, blogger at Light From A Pixel, contributes posts from time to time. Born in 1975, she’s a mid-to-late wave Xer. Check out Chloe’s profile. She’s a great writer and I’m so grateful for her contributions and perspective!
Finally, I invite you to subscriber to my monthly newsletter. It features exclusive content you can’t get on the blog. You can also stay in touch by joining the Facebook page. I managed to ignore it for years as I struggled to own my own little place in the Blogosphere. But, there are more than 1,100 members, now, and I appreciate each and every one.
Thank you, again, for stopping by!