Writing makes me happy. As a kid, I would stay up late reading chapter books under my blanket with a flashlight, thinking about all the different ways I could craft stories. When a fifth grade teacher suggested students write and illustrate mini-books and put them on a certain table for others to read, I went wild. Other students were obediently writing one or maybe two books; my titles crowded the table. My pictures were awful; my stories were captivating (at least in my own mind).
I remember reading a classmate’s book and being shocked that she had switched from past to present tense midway through. ‘Somebody needs to explain this to her!’ I thought with alarm. Not knowing the student well and being separated by tiers of popularity (with myself at the bottom), I knew it wasn’t my place. I hoped and prayed the teacher would read the book and explain to the girl how to fix it. She had the potential to tell a great story and I was worried nobody would notice or guide her along, that the story wouldn’t be told in its best form. I didn’t sleep well that night.
Fast forward to my young adult years, when I was asking God for direction for my life. I had re-dedicated my life to Him and had attended Bible College so I felt like my spiritual foundation was firm. When I talked to my dad about needing direction, he said, “I’ve always thought you’d be great at scientific research. You did so well in high school science.” My heart sank. Doing well at something and wanting to do it for the rest of my life did not equate.
At that moment, I couldn’t think of anything I would rather not do than scientific research. I determined to get before God and ask Him until He answered. I would be like the persistent widow in Luke 18, who wouldn’t stop asking until she got an answer from the judge. It didn’t take long and the answer came to me as clearly as I had ever heard God speak, “You won’t be satisfied until you pursue journalism.”
Of course. It made so much sense. Images from my childhood flashed through my mind like scenes from a movie. Walking to the Eastern Graphic community newspaper office (Montague, Prince Edward Island) after school, climbing up on my dad’s stool while he used his Exacto knife to cut and paste stories and ads on the drafting table. Running there Wednesday afternoons when the papers were still damp from printing, filling my bag, and walking up and down Main Street asking people if they wanted to buy a paper. I think I sold them for fifty cents apiece and was allowed to keep a dime. When dusk set in, I would return the unsold copies and skip to the corner store to fill my pockets with candy. The smell of fresh newspapers filled my nostrils again as I thought about those memories.
I was so excited to tell my dad the next day.
“Dad, I know what I need to do now. I’m going to go into journalism.”
Perhaps a different set of memories filled his mind. Long hours, small paychecks. A marriage that collapsed after years of financial stress.
He paused before answering, “Are you sure, dear?”
Yes, I was sure. I’d never been so sure of anything. I enrolled at university almost immediately and went on to complete an English degree, then enrolled in a journalism program.
A colleague at CBC Radio later asked me, “What direction do you see yourself going here?” He was referring to the reporter’s or producer’s track, and if I saw myself continuing in daily news or longer-form documentaries, in radio or television.
“I just want to tell people’s stories,” I responded.
That resolve has never shifted course. I married my husband 17 years ago and put my career on hold for something I valued far more: raising a family. We now have seven living children and have buried two. Our youngest is two years old and with myself at 43, I think our childbearing days might be over. Alas, I think I might just have a little tiny breathing space to write!
God is, of course, the great Creator, and I believe He puts in each of our hearts a desire to be creative. It looks different for each of us but it is such a happy feeling when we can tap into our individual creativity. Especially busy mamas! It might be a melody you can’t stop humming as you sweep up dumped cheerios. Maybe a sketch you find yourself doing by flashlight after your hubby is in bed. It could be sewing, singing, painting, dancing, whatever it is, do it! Do it five minutes this week if that’s all you have. It will make you smile. And I think it makes God smile too!
Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”