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Absence Excused–Not Guilty!

This past summer has been full with grandchildren. I chose spending time with them over posting. At first I felt guilty for neglecting my blog.

“What kind of reputation are you making for yourself?” I asked.

“That depends,” the answer came, “on what your goals are.”

“My goal is for these children to know that God loves them even more than I do.” I said. “I want them to know the importance of having a relationship with God.”

“Then you better take the time to teach them and show them now. They are getting older. What if they don’t want to spend next summer with grandma? You can write and blog after they go home. Make the most of the time you have with them now. You may not get another chance.”

Guilty or Not?

And so, I made the conscious choice to spend as much time as I could with my grandkids. We went camping, hiking, swimming and played in the park. We ate pizza three times a week and had ice cream nearly every day.

We read books aloud to each other and talked about dragons. We played checkers and chess. We prayed before meals, and at night before bed. We talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up, and about remembering to read the Bible and pray every day.

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Then it was over. I had to take them back home, 600 miles away. The time we had together was so short. I no longer feel guilt over the posts I didn’t write. Instead, I am glad for the talks we had and the connections we made. I cherish the time spent with them and look forward to next summer for more of the same–and I pray they don’t grown up too much between now and then.

 

Originally appeared marthajanecurtis.weebly.com on 7-23-14 titled Guilty or Not?

For the Love of Reading–Because I Am a Writer

From the time I was in 2nd grade I read every book I could get my hands on. I would rather read than sleep—so often, that is just what I did. 

By the time I was in junior high I had a flashlight and a battery charger—before rechargeable batteries were made. I never planned to read all night, but just until I came to a stopping place. If the chapter ended in suspense, I had to go on to the next, and the next…until the end, or until all my batteries were dead.

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Despite my good intentions, when I finished one book, I often picked up another and continued reading.The question I am trying to answer is, “what made me open that second book and continue reading hours past my bedtime? Was it because the first book was not satisfying and I wanted to read a good one? Or was it because the one I just finished was so good that I didn’t want it to end?

I persisted to do this on occasion even after I was grown and married.

My first two children were born 17 months apart. I had no time for reading, but the books didn’t understand. They sat there on the shelf calling my name. To shut them up I put them in boxes and carried them to the shed 100 feet or so behind the house.


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My children are grown and married now, and I have once again found reading to be habit forming. Now I not only try to figure out why that is, but also how I can instill that same desire into the readers of my own stories. Instead of finding the answer, I again find myself staying up way into the night, not reading, but writing, then guiltily sneaking into bed next to my husband just before the soft light of dawn seeps in around the bedroom curtains.I write for the love of writing, just as I read for the love of reading. Both are addicting. Maybe I have found the answer to my question after all—I love to write because I love to read, and I love to read—Because I am a writer.

Teacher or Writer–Which are You?

I attended my first writer’s conference on May 19, 2012 at the invitation of my writer friend.  At the time I did not consider myself a writer, but it sounded like fun. It was a one day conference held at a Church in Cushing,Oklahoma. Donna Goodrich was the only speaker. I learned many things that would come in handy

IF I WAS A WRITER, THAT IS!

Donna taught things like:

  • How to find interesting topics to write about.
  • It is importance to use proper grammar and punctuation.
  • If you use something written by someone else, give them credit for it.
  • Construct good titles for your stories and books.
  • How to prepare your manuscript for publishing.

I learned all this and much more at that conference. In fact,

I found it to be quite interesting, 

but I was not a writer.

Since that time I began attending a group for writers in Tulsa. 

I learned many things that would be helpful if I ever did decide to become a writer.
Speakers kept talking about being called to write.

I wasn’t comfortable applying that tag to myself. 

I had many things I wanted to share with my children and the children I taught in Vacation Bible School each summer and others with whom I associated.  I home-schooled my daughter from preschool until she graduated high school except for a year and a half in the middle. I even taught my grandsons for two years. 

So you see, I was a teacher, not a writer.
I found myself writing daily. I wrote school lessons and Bible lessons and plays. I wrote a program for a three day home-school history learning activity called “Wagon Train Camp”. I wrote pages of notes every morning as I read my Bible and studied. I often thought how great it would be if I could share what I had learned with others. 

But I was still just a teacher, not a writer.
One day as I browsed through my Facebook feed, I noticed there were many posts complaining about the condition of our economy and talking about what our government officials should be doing and not doing. That day I began writing a post of my own. The subject of my post was that we as Christians need to quit griping to each other and start praying. The only way for our nation to remain Christian, is for us to be truly Christian and spend time on our knees praying for our nation and its leaders.

 As I wrote, I realized what a small audience my post would have with my barely more than one hundred Facebook friends. It needed a bigger audience to have the impact I had planned for it, so I created a blog on which to post it. A blog still had limits, I realized, but it was a start in the right direction. The more I thought about the thousands I wanted to reach with this message,

the more inadequate I felt as “just a teacher”. 

I wanted the message God had given me to impact the world, not just those who were within the sound of my voice or who would read my measly Facebook page.

It was then that I felt the gentle whispering of the Holy Spirit, “How many more people do you think you can teach through writing?”

 You can reach the world through writing!

Then I understood. God had been preparing me all along to write for Him. I am still teaching, but I am doing it through writing. I have the opportunity to share what God has given me with the whole world.

Because… I AM a Writer.

First posted on marthajanecurtis.com

A Cup of Coffee to Direct My Steps to Make a Difference

Each morning upon awakening, I grope my way to the bathroom, my eyes not yet focusing, then stumble back to the bedroom. I clumsily arrange pillows against the headboard into a comfortable place to sit while I coax my eyes open and will my brain to engage. A few minutes later Joe appears with my stainless steel mug filled with strong black coffee, a spoon for sipping until it cools enough to drink and a strawberry breakfast bar.

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Joe started this act of kindness several years ago, not long after I realized  the benefits of consuming the beverage on a regular basis.

–It gives me an excuse to sit through a much needed wake-up time.

–It provides the boost that keeps me from falling back into sleep.

–It washes down the snack that provides me with enough energy to cook a more nutritious breakfast.

Bonus: –It makes me feel loved for Joe to voluntarily bring it to me each morning.

The first few sips of coffee and the sunlight streaming through my bedroom window serve to help my eyes focus. As I reach for my Bible I breathe a quick prayer, asking God to teach me something new.

Today I added to that prayer, “Help me make a difference in someone’s life today.”

I picked up my journal and read my notes from the last few days. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 KJV

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I can’t count how many times I have read, written or quoted this verse. I have seen it fulfilled many times throughout my life. As I began to think on this, I made my plans for this day.

The basic plan was already laid. Joe and I had made a pact to work every day in our rented storage building until we get it under control. Today marks the second week of our labor. We set up tables in front of the building, filling them with junk that we hope will become someone else’s treasure and put enough dollars in our pocket to pay the storage rent for another month.

As I continued sipping my coffee, my thoughts wandered to three young girls who pass by each day on their way home from school. The two older girls go straight home, but eight year old Cheyenne, small enough to pass for five or six, stops to talk. She asks about the things we have for sale, and without pausing, rattles on, answering her own questions. She is intelligent and a quick thinker.

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She reminds me of my nineteen year old daughter, Mariah, when she was that age. Mariah could carry on intelligent conversation with adults and most people liked her. A few, though, did not want to be bothered by a kid. I like Cheyenne, but I don’t have time to talk to her. I have work to do. I just want her to go so I can get my storage job finished and spend some time at home cooking, cleaning and writing—the things I have put off in honor of my pact with Joe.

But here I am this morning drinking coffee and asking God to direct my steps today, and I think of Cheyenne—not just Cheyenne, but her sister and their friend. God is telling me I can make a difference in those girls’ lives.

This afternoon, three girls got off the school bus. Three girls stopped to talk. Each clamored for attention. I sat in my chair this afternoon, listening to and talking to those young girls. I did not feel the usual guilt or pressure to be up cleaning, sorting and organizing. I was at peace with what I was doing this day.

God wanted me to sit and listen and talk with those little girls today. I don’t know His reasons, but I am thankful for those little girls, Joe, the coffee, and the time to meditate on God’s words. But most of all, I am thankful for God, who directs my steps and allows me to make a difference.

The Very First Post on My New Blog!

Hi. I’m so glad you stopped by. If you are reading this, you are seeing history being made. You see, I was born before… well… before my grandchildren. That was a long time ago. I learned to type on a manual typewriter. For those of you who don’t know what that is, here is a picture:

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This may not look like much, but back in it’s day, it was prized. It did have a few drawbacks. If you made a typo, you could use the typewriter eraser, which at worst left a hole in the paper or at best a smudge, or you could re-type the whole thing and hope you didn’t make another mistake.

Later someone invented a little strip of white paper that you could put between the type and your paper, then type over it with the same mistake you made originally. Hopefully this would cover your mistake, then you just typed the correct letter(s) over it. Sometimes when you typed over it, though, the force of the type knocked the white off and left the manuscript messy. If you wanted a copy of your work, you could put carbon paper between two sheets of paper. When you typed the original, it made a copy at the same time.

The typewriter in general was pretty easy to operate. You did have to pound hard on the keys, but you could get used to that. I suppose it built up the muscles in your fingers.

Maybe that is the real reason we got big knuckles rather than  from popping them.

I’m not sure about that, but I memorized a lot of Bible Verses by pounding them out over and over again on my old manual typewriter. The first thing I memorized, however, was the classic sentence that was used to teach correct finger position on the typewriter:

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY.

(I’ve typed that one more times than I can count.)

The electric typewriter came along and made typing both faster and easier, although you had to go through the same process to correct your mistakes as with the old manual style.

The word processor came out soon after. It allowed you to preview your typing and correct mistakes before the words hit the paper. It saved a lot of time and headache, but I preferred my electric typewriter.

My first computer was an Apple IIc. It took a while, but I finally learned to use it for typing documents and making spreadsheets. Graphics were stored on huge 5 1/4″ square disks. The paper for the printer was fed continuously as you typed. It was perforated every eleven inches so when you finished the document you could tear the pages apart at the perforation. It was fun to use after I got the hang of it.

The computer I got in the mid 90’s was the dinosaur of the models we use today. I could turn it on, but that was about it. For some reason I thought I would be able to use it to make money. I don’t know where I got that notion–it just seemed like there should be a way.

Then I heard about eBay, and determined to give it a try. I bought a $400 digital camera. It took a month or so to figure out how to list an item, but I was finally successful. In fact, I was successful to the tune of $300 for my first sell! This was enough to motivate me to keep trying for the six months it took me to get the next item listed.

It seems that each time I think I have something figured out, something else comes along to stump me. Technology seems to be moving faster and faster, threatening to leave me behind.

I refuse to give up. I keep plugging until I figure it out. I don’t want to be left behind. I have learned more things than I ever thought possible.

As I write this, I am in the process of building my own website. It’s not easy. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and am sure I will make many more.

When I succeed, and I will, I will have proved that even an old woman can make history happen. I am determined to be that old woman!