Friday Five – Susie Shellenberger
If you are a Christian teenage girl (or were within the last two decades), chances are you know Susie Shellenberger. That’s because she was the founder of the wildly popular, Brio Magazine, published by Focus on the Family from 1990 until 2009. She’s written more than 40 books, including many for teens. Her latest is Girl Talk With God. Susie has traveled to every continent in the world. Susie is a renowned youth speaker and has appeared on a variety of media outlets.
What’s awesome about Susie is that when Brio ceased to exist, she launched her own magazine for Christian girls, Susie. She’s also been kind enough to endorse my teen devo, Crash Course and has featured my books and articles in Susie Magazine.
I’m honored that Susie would take time to chat with me today for today’s Friday Five
1) So you edited Brio for 19 years and then all of a sudden, Focus cancelled Brio. That had to be a difficult transition for you and for all the readers who relied on Brio!
It was hard to see Focus cancel Brio. But they were going through an extremely difficult financial situation and had to cut 200 positions. My staff and I were caught up in that.
2) What prompted you to start Susie Magazine? Did you consider the long odds of getting a magazine off the ground in today’s media climate? Did people think you were crazy?
I spent a lot of time praying about God’s next step for me, and He kept saying, “I’m not finished with a monthly, printed magazine for Christian teen girls yet.” So my response—of course—was “I will have to KNOW beyond all doubt this is from You, because it’s the worst time in the world to try and launch a printed magazine when so many print mags are going online.” And God is so very faithful. He began giving me all kinds of encouragement from people. So no, people weren’t acting like I was crazy, and that was part of how I knew it was truly God leading me. The more I trusted Him, the more He simply kept opening doors for it to actually happen.
3) How is Susie Magazine like Brio and how is it different?
It’s like Brio in the fact that I created both. So of course there are similarities in the personality and feel of the magazine—just as there are similarities in a family. The difference is I’m not under as many constraints as I was with Brio. Because Focus on the Family published Brio, there were specific things we couldn’t print. For example, I was never allowed to do anything on suicide because Dr. Dobson felt it would put ideas in the readers minds. I had to use specific versions of the Bible. I have more freedom with SUSIE Magazine. I’m able to deal with some of the tougher issues that teen girls battle.
4) Most people don’t realize how hard it is to get a quality magazine together every month. What keeps you going?
I absolutely LOVE what I do! There’s literally no other Christian teen girls magazine on the market, so to know that what I’m doing is making a difference in a girl’s life and is helping her in her relationship with Christ makes all the difference.
5) You’ve also got a new book out, Girl Talk With God. What’s the message of this book for young girls?
This is probably my favorite book of all I’ve written. In fact, there was an interview with Miley Cyrus in USA Today where the interviewer asked her what she was currently reading and she said, “Girl Talk With God.” So I’m hoping it will make a positive difference. It’s my favorite book because each chapter is simply dialogue. It’s conversation between God and a teen girl about a variety of topics that teen girls deal with (why don’t I have a boyfriend, modesty, sexting, friendships, divorce, cutting, eating disorders, etc.) In fact, each chaptercould even be performed as a sketch, with someone behind the scenes reading God’s lines and a girl on stage doing her own lines. It would serve as a terrific youth group opener. I’m also hoping it will help girls realize that developing communication with God is easy and He’s extremely accessible and concerned about every single thing in their lives.