As a budding journalist working part-time during high school and college at my hometown newspaper, I was tasked with copy editing because, despite my age, I was good at it.
Keep in mind that this was the 1980s, so I was the spell checker.
Spelling and English were subjects that were fun and even easy for me. The other reporters were all guys, and they appreciated these skills, which made them look better.
I remember proofing one column from a reporter who our paper had begun to feature.
He was probably only ten years my senior. As I searched for misspellings, typos, grammatical errors, etc., I remember thinking there was no way I could write a column.
The very idea was daunting. I couldn’t imagine “producing” on such a regular basis. I felt too young.
After all, I hadn’t “lived enough” or experienced enough to write with conviction and substance. But I admired the confidence this guy had that enabled him to embark on his column journey.
I knew back then that God had given me the ability to write, to express ideas through written word.
Although I was thankful, I didn’t really appreciate the gift. Sure, I was glad English papers and journalism courses came easy for me. But I didn’t understand why so many people dreaded writing, even my mom.
“Oh, I wish I could write like you,” my genealogist Mom often said. I’d just tell her not to overthink it and to simply put the words down as if she were talking to someone.
She insisted it wasn’t that easy for her. Then it struck me: maybe it was like someone gifted with a beautiful singing voice instructing me to “just open your mouth and sing.”
That thought made me laugh and begin appreciating my gift (which is definitely not singing). I had been taking my ability for granted, not seeing it as any big deal.
Humility is good, but thankfulness and obedience are too. I cannot imagine someone with a pretty singing voice sitting in silence. So I began thinking, “What about my ‘voice’”?
So, back to my early twenties: after graduating from college with a degree in journalism, I went straight to interview with the editor at this newspaper.
And you may wonder why I was looking for a job in my small town. I admit the Tennessean and Southern Living tempted me, but my focus was on finding a good job close to home with the love of my life, Kelly Moore.
Kelly and I began dating during my last year of high school, and I was certain by this time that I wanted to marry him.
He had returned home with a degree in animal science to run his family’s farm, which was all he’d ever dreamed of doing.
So there I was interviewing at this small-town newspaper.
The editor seemed very impressed with my credentials and said he’d love to have me on staff. Then he offered me a quarter over minimum wage. With a raised eyebrow and smug smile that probably didn’t hide my disbelief at the offer, I politely declined.
In truth, my cockiness as a brand new graduate proud of her resume, complete with grades, work experience, scholarships, clubs, and honors, could not believe that low offer. But I didn’t even try to negotiate.
Admittedly, I had failed to research salaries of journalists at all. Of course they made more money in big cities.
But because you can’t move a farm, I wasn’t even considering looking for jobs anywhere else. So, a couple of months later, right as I was wondering if I was going to have to humble myself and answer the local Dairy Queen’s ad in the paper, I got an offer to work at a nearby advanced-technology firm.
I had interned there one summer during college. The lady who interviewed me was an English major, and she liked my background for her marketing department.
Although I wasn’t especially drawn to propulsion systems and all the other high-tech stuff that company featured, I believed it was the best job I could get “for a communications major in a small town.”
It even came with a nice benefits package.
I enjoyed the independent feeling of having my first real, full-time job. I loved having a 401k and being able to buy my first car.
I made many friends there and enjoyed many parts of my work. As our department supported contract proposal bids, there was a lot of overtime, often on holidays.
Kelly and I married after I’d been working there a year or so. His grandmother passed away a couple of months before we married.
That next summer, we began fixing up his grandparents’ 1920s home, which was right there on the farm. I loved it!
Then, a little over four years into my job, I quickly changed my mind about what I thought was the best job I could get. I became a mom.
So I quit one full-time job and plunged into one for which I believe I was created. Kelly still tells people my dream was simply a little bitty farm and a yard full of kids. I suppose he’s right, and I’m so thankful that dream came true!
Sure, I’ve done part-time work too since becoming a mom.
A few months after our first child was born, my friend and I started the first consignment sale in our community.
Twenty-five years later, Marketplace Consignment Sale continues to serve thousands in our area, providing them a safe, effective way to make and save money for their growing families.
I’ve also worked part time as a substitute teacher, waitress, and salesperson at a local jewelry and gift shop. All of this while raising three children and being a farmer’s wife kept me busy and made the remainder of my 20s, along with my 30s then 40s fly by at breakneck pace.
Now, Kelly and I find ourselves looking into that 50-something mirror with a combination of whiplash, pride, and disbelief.
Despite the craziness of what I call those hamster-wheel years of raising children, from time to time I felt the nudge to write.
God was telling me I needed to rekindle that love. I heard him, and I knew deep down He was right. But when? How?
If it’s true that delayed obedience is disobedience, then I was admittedly a bad girl.
“Really, God? But we’re at the ball fields so much! I’m not even home to cook supper.” Sigh.
Our children have grown up. One by one, they were potty trained. Then they learned to swim. Soon, they learned to drive.
Then they all graduated from high school. They’ve even all held jobs and gotten nice reviews from their supervisors.
One even got married this year. These are some of the milestones a parent looks forward to and then cherishes in hindsight.
While life is still busy and we eagerly anticipate celebrating milestones to come, the time is right for me to dust off the keyboard. You know that old expression about “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” … well, I not only see it, I hear it beckoning.
As has anyone my age, I’ve experienced the harsh realization that time stands still for no one.
I want to seize the day and make good use of the time given to me. I want it to count.
Most of all, I want God to use me as a vehicle to spread His glory for anyone to see.
As I sit atop the mid-life hill admiring the view and continuing to seek wisdom, I take a deep breath and know I am ready to write.
And I smile as I realize the idea of writing a column doesn’t scare this 52 year old nearly as much as it did that teenager. That girl’s heart inside that budding reporter has bloomed and wants to share God’s beauty and love before the bloom fades, falls to the ground, and fades into dust.
No more fear. Whether the difference is age, experience, wisdom, faith, obedience, or a combination, I no longer view such an endeavor as a heavy responsibility.
I now see it as a privilege to listen to that little voice inside telling me to write and to use my gift to glorify God, to help, encourage, inspire, and maybe even at times lovingly admonish others. My sincere prayer is that God’s light shine through whatever I say or do.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” -1 Peter 4:10-11
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” -Acts 1:8