Measuring the Worth of a Word


words

We’re one month into the year. Each week, each month, each season, seems to fly past more rapidly than the one before it. Often with fewer things to show for the time gone by … at least it seems. But perhaps more depend on how we quantify accomplishments and deeds. Perhaps it’s not a matter of word count reached on my latest Work in Progress, or whether I manage to write a blog post per week. Perhaps it’s not about Facebook page likes or blog followers. Not even about works completed, or published, or copies sold.

But then what is it about? If my worth is not determined by my gains in the world of writing (or teaching, or whatever my chosen world), then what measures success? How can I know my life is worth the living and breathing, the laughter and crying, the wins and the losses, if not by the quantifiable methods I so often cling to?

What determines my worth?

Maybe the better question is, who determines worth? And maybe, when I’m brave enough to ask that question, I will find the courage to admit that I already know the answer.

That success by measurable means is far less satisfying, and far more fleeting, than many would admit. That worth is not always a thing determined, but it is intrinsic. That He who calls me worth calls me precious. Calls me loved. And He does not keep count of manuscripts completed or submissions accepted. But He numbers the hairs of my head, He stores the tears I cry, He bids me believe in my worth. More than sparrows. More than lilies. More than the accomplishments I claim as the days turn.

It’s February. One month of 2015 is gone. Soon this month will be past too … and the next. And the next.

God help me make the most of every moment, but to remember that what I make of a moment and what You make of it are not always the same. Let me see the days through Your eyes, that at the end of them, I lived for moments of truest worth. In the Name of He who is worthy, the Heir of all Things, amen.

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I’m Teaching!


Teacher in front of blackboardWriting comes naturally to me. Too naturally, sometimes. I’ll be in the middle of a situation or discussion (don’t worry, not with you) and a concept will start forming and I’ll begin to compose in my mind. I’m working on a separate blog post about that issue, but in short, writing is not a challenge for me.

Teaching is another matter.

I’ve been tutoring and involved in home schooling since I was 16. That’s generally a one-on-one experience. Two or three students at most, and they’re usually under the age of 12. In other words, they don’t expect too much. They’re forgiving and though they might remember (and remind me of) something I flubbed, they don’t hold it against me.

At the start of the year, while reading a book on writing, the author suggested trying one’s hand at teaching, perhaps at writer’s conferences or local adult education centers. That’s not for me, was my first response.

But the idea refused to let go of me, so I began to consider it. What do I have to offer? What could I teach? I came up with more than a couple topics:

  • Blogging
  • Working from Home
  • Editing
  • Creative Writing
  • Purpose

“Hey, maybe I can do this!” I hesitantly mentioned it to my husband, not because I thought he would disagree, but because I had a feeling he would encourage me. I needed someone to talk me out of this crazy idea. Standing up in front of … people!

My high school days rushed into my head. Speech class. Trembling, blushing, stumbling over words even when I had my papers right in front of me. Even in college, my heart beating faster when I know I’ll be expected to present something in front of class. At social gatherings, if more than a couple people tune into what I’m saying, an eraser wipes my words out of my brain and I find myself pausing, blinking, and failing at whatever I’m trying to verbalize.

Sure enough, my husband was completely supportive of the idea. So I put together a couple course proposals for community education and sent them off to Clovis Adult Education. And got a reply immediately! Within a week, I was going through the application process to become a course instructor. It took some time getting all that worked out: resume, reference letters, TB test, fingerprinting. That was the easy part.

Yesterday was the other part. The main part. Teaching.

I arrived early. Just in case. For the record, it was a good idea. The projector had been left on and overheated, so I had to get another projector brought into the room and connected to my laptop.

Power point … check.

Course attendees began to arrive. I managed to smile and greeted the first few, and exchange a few words. Then more came. Once more than five or so people were in the room, I began to shuffle through my papers. I needed something to hold on to. Something to center me. Ten people … watching, waiting. I remembered reading that the average person would rather have a tooth pulled than speak in front of people.

You can do this.

And I did. I might have fumbled over my presentation on blogging. I might have said “Uh” more than a couple times. And I did rush through that power point a lot more quickly than I had planned to.

But I did it! I taught a class. And I plan to teach more … a lot more (I’ve signed up to teach four courses this fall). As with everything else, it’s a learning experience. A small step, I know, but a huge one for me, and I’m so glad I took it. I’m grateful for the support of all those who encouraged me along the way and told me I could do it.

The other day, in a small group get-together, a friend prayed for me. Every week, I had been updating them on the progress in my teaching plan. He thanked God for the passion that I had in teaching. Passion? For writing, definitely. But teaching? I began to think about it, and realized that what he said was true. Just because it doesn’t come naturally and I’m nervous about it doesn’t mean that I can’t have a passion for it.

I realized, as I listened to the attendees’ ideas and vision for creating a blog, that I have an awesome opportunity. To walk someone through the process, show them how to do it and how to get the most out of it, so they can fulfill that vision they have. Whether it’s a ministry-related blog, a travel blog, a legal blog, or a photography blog, it’s going to be someone’s hopes and dreams and thoughts and words, out there for the world to see.Who knows how far something like that can go?

Playing this small part of showing someone how to do something and then stepping back and seeing what they can come up with and how far they can go with it … I guess that’s part of what teaching is all about. And yes, I could have a passion for something like this. Now to prepare for the next class!

[Have you taken a step recently towards something you thought you couldn’t do? Or is there something you’re thinking about and not sure that you can or should try it? I would love to hear about it and encourage you that if I can teach a class, you can take that step! You can fulfill your dream.]

100 Writing and Editing Projects Complete!


Writing and Editing Statistics 2013

I began working from home as a freelance writer and editor in May of 2010. In the three and a half years since then, it has been an interesting journey. This week, I completed my hundredth writing/editing project!

Every writing and editing project has been a learning experience. I’ve enjoyed getting to know many wonderful writers and I feel blessed to play a part in so many inspired and life-changing projects.

I’m grateful to each of my clients over the past few years and am looking forward to many more years of writing, editing and whatever else God has in store!

Life Is Short … Sleep Less


Baby Jessica sleepingI’ve always loved sleep … A lot. It’s like one of life’s pure joys.

I hate that fuzzy, grumpy feeling that comes with being tired.

The toughest part about becoming a mom, for me, was the broken sleep, and the fact that for the first few months of her life, Jessica Rose didn’t fall asleep before two am.

The first tell tale sign of pregnancy I always had—and the worst to deal with, even more so than four months of perpetual queasiness—was a constant state of fatigue.

I remember reading, in one of the books in my mom’s vast ‘library,’ that a pregnant woman resting is burning more energy than someone climbing a mountain.  During the times I was pregnant, I had no doubt about that fact.

 

Last night, my son woke me not long after midnight. He had a bad dream and kept me up for the next hour or so as I tried to comfort him, sing to him, pray with him and reason with him.

Today, as soon as I woke up, my first thoughts were, “I’m definitely going to nap today.”

I didn’t.

I tried, but couldn’t. Maybe too much caffeine running through my system.

But more than that was the thought that struck my mind.

One of those weird thoughts that, in my case, unfortunately kept me from slumber.

The thought?

How would I be spending my days if I knew my time on earth was short?

Oh gee. I mean, I know we’re supposed to live each day as if it’s our last and all that, but who really does?

So I started to think about it.

And decided against a nap.

Got better things to do.

Actually, I’ve heard that as people get older, like when they enter their “golden years” they start to sleep less. They wake up earlier or stay up later. My father-in-law, who is in his late 70s, wakes up at 2:30 every morning, spends hours in prayer, and then sleeps for a little while before waking up with everyone else for the day.

Is it a sense that they no longer have “all the time in the world” and a desire – maybe even subconscious – to get the most out of the time they have left?

How would I live if I knew my time was short?

For one, I’d spend more quality time with my kids. Yes, I’m with them 24/7, more or less, but how much of that time is creating lasting memories and some sort of progress and growth in their minds and hearts? Definitely less than 24/7.

I’d also get my writing in some sort of sense-making order, so that if I don’t have the opportunity to finish it, at least I could auction the ideas off to other writers.

There is that logo from somewhere that states, “Life is Short. Play Hard.” Come to think of it, I think I’d need to live by: “Life is Short. Sleep Less.”

Something else I would do is to find a way to tell as many people as possible that they are loved.

That their life has purpose.

And that it’s a beautiful one.

What could be better than living with a sense of purpose and destiny, knowing that you are loved? No matter how short or long our lives on earth, living with meaning, living for love, and living knowing that the best is yet to come – I can’t imagine a better life than that.

Balance, Books, & Cycles


It’s not that I have nothing to write about. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have so much that I want to write about that it’s almost overwhelming. Words flow and the ideas come at the oddest of times, usually when I don’t have a pen and paper at my side. My husband helped with that problem. On my last birthday, he got me a phone.

It was a pretty cool phone; I could write with it! I could create MS Word documents, power points, even excel programs. And when I couldn’t write, I could record audio for a time that I could type it up. I was set.

The problem? Not long after my birthday, and before I had the time to figure much out about my phone and get in the groove of using it, my life became a lot busier. Imagine having a couple of friends who would help with your kids whenever you needed a breather, and then from one day to the next figuring out how to operate without even a spouse for a couple of months. Thank God that phase didn’t last long, but needless to say, my blog remained untouched for that period of time, and my Facebook seldom perused.

Life has its cycles and there always seems to be something or another that requires a good amount of time and focus. It’s not always the same thing and it’s often a challenge for me to find the right balance between my responsibilities before the next cycle or stage comes along that requires a different focus or balance altogether.

I’m an incurable multi-tasker. Therefore, one main challenge for me is to let go of something that I no longer have time for and avoid spending every waking moment of the day involved in everything that’s part of not only my current cycle but past ones too. I just try to fit it all in—not always the best thing.

Example? It’s a typical school morning with my sons. I spend it at the school table teaching them. I help the older one with his reading; once he’s working on his own, I do some flash cards and educational power points with the younger one. Once he runs off to play, I open my laptop and continue working on an editing job or writing project, of which there are always at least half a dozen to choose from. It’s good to stay busy and not waste time, but when it gets to where Allen has the mindset that, “Mommies don’t play” and when Jessica sings “wheels on the bus” with her brother, it comes to what the mommies do on the bus and she sings, “the Mommies on the bus go edit, edit, edit, all through the town”, well, I guess there can be too much of a good thing.

Back to writing. Over the past month or so, the storylines started. It began with a dream I remembered one morning and by the end of the day it had developed into the outline for a children’s novel. At the moment, I have the rough outline of nine stories or books… with 5,000 words or less written in each one. Not a lot of “story” just yet, probably because I haven’t focused on just one at a time.

It’s great to multi-task but I’m realizing that at other times it’s important to focus on just one thing. In all things, “a just balance is the Lord’s delight”. [Pro. 11:1] I actually hope to write on the topic of balance, especially for parents with many responsibilities in this age when being a parent is so much more than just “being a parent”. Maybe I’ll write a book about it! Okay, make that ten. 🙂

But first, I had another idea, which you’ll see in upcoming blog posts… Stay tuned.