Writing in the present

Last week I shared how I realized about a year ago that I had always been curious about language and how I began setting aside time and space to write. Well, I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me, but after a couple months pursuing time to write led to this blog. I knew it would take courage for me to share my writing and I needed some accountability in the discipline of making time for it.

What started out as a discipline and then something I shared with friends and family allowed me to begin to see themes and patterns in my writing. Still when people asked me: What do you write about? I had no idea how to answer. A natural question to “I’m spending time writing” yet the verbal lover was speechless.

I had more ideas than I had focus to pursue, so I tried to be patient and enjoy the process… and I did! Writing consistently has been therapeutic for my soul and eventually, I started working on a book. I had written various pieces and submitted them here and there in an effort to persist, but suddenly, words and ideas were taking shape and I felt compelled to write them.

I began writing the non-fiction book in April and wrote steadily for four months. I have a complete outline for ten chapters and I’m up to 24, 000 words. I took a break at the end of summer and haven’t had the enthusiasm to continue the last few months, but again, I’m letting it develop on its own timeline.

Meanwhile, I have renewed enthusiasm for the start of the blog’s second year and a clarity of focus for the direction it’s headed in. I streamlined all my posts (past and future) into three categories and added a page announcing that I’m available for freelance work.

I still have more ideas up my sleeve than time to act on them, but for the moment, I’m working on establishing the blog’s direction, a presence on social media and pursuing freelance work, locally and online.

You can help! Do you know anyone who would be encouraged by reading this blog? How about a business that needs copywriting services? Spread the word!

Writing in the past

My family likes to tease me: “She was born talking,” they’d say. I was verbal at months and by kindergarten, when asked if I could count to 100 yet, there may have been some concern that I wouldn’t stop counting.

Sometime in elementary school, I started a cousins newsletter. My dad’s siblings were spread in five states and our every other year beach trips seemed far away. I wanted a way for the family to stay in touch, so I requested that each Hiteshew family send news of their latest happenings as well as jokes to share.

Now this was prior to facebook and other social media so the family had to actually snail mail me! Then each quarter I’d put all the family news into a template I created and send a copy to each household. It was fun, and it was work that I eventually gave up.

In high school, I loved my English classes, eventually taking AP, and also helped with the yearbook. I also took Latin and French which introduced me to language as both an art and a science. In college, I entered pre-law, quickly switched to undeclared and then briefly considered JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design. I sometimes wonder if I should have persisted in this a bit longer as some of the technological skills would be helpful now, but I took one news writing class and hated how brief my sentences were encouraged to be!

Where was the opportunity to use big words and creativity? To analyze the depths of literature? Hello, English department. Sure, I’ll take French too. Reading and writing in two languages sounds great. Add on a translation minor, why not? During a translation internship my senior year, I wrote an article that was published in the American Translators Association newsletter.

After graduation, I did some freelance translating work as well as work as a project manager, editing and overseeing translation and brand name analysis projects. It was interesting work and the opportunity to meet people worldwide was incredible, but I was working 60-80 hours/week and I felt like I was missing out on life.

I also realized for the first time that not everyone liked kids nor enjoyed being around them. I mean, this was actually news to me; I was surprised! I remembered my Papa’s (maternal grandfather’s) suggestions that perhaps I would be a teacher one day and I suddenly wondered how he knew me better than I knew myself.

I decided to go to graduate school for a Masters in Teaching and during that year did A LOT of writing. Since then, most of my writing has been curriculum-related, whether I’ve been creating lesson plans for myself or others, or training others how to practically implement a plan.

Turns out I’ve always loved language and literacy. Speaking, listening, reading, writing… these elements even lie behind my curiousity about early childhood and the primary years. How do humans develop the ability to use language? is a question that fascinates me.

About a year ago, I realized that I wanted to pursue writing again for myself because I missed spending time reading, thinking, writing like I did in college. I had no idea what pursuing writing meant, but I started setting aside time and space…

Next week: Writing in the present


Listen, Speak, Do

The title of this post brings to my mind an image of three monkeys. You’ve seen them – one covering their eyes, one their ears, one their mouth. The thoughts often associated with these monkeys roughly translates in my mind “ignore what you don’t want to deal with in the way you choose”… a sort of ignorance is bliss mentality or perhaps pious is better… and all those are the opposite of this post’s position.

Today, I ask these questions: what activities can we pursue to receive more grace? Are there certain ways that God always works? How do I train instead of try?

In response to these questions, I propose three categories of blog topics: Listen, Speak, Do that summarize posts that I have either already written about or plan to write about it over the next year. Some of these topics, I will not comment further on at this time, but others I will soon dig deeper into. For example, when it comes to listening, or paying attention, we have covered the topic a lot so here is some background for those you may have missed it. We’ve explored listening to our lives, to others and to God as three ways to notice and to grow. To this category then, I will only comment that three ways of listening to God are through His Word, prayer as dialogue and practicing gratitude as I will speak more on these things in upcoming posts.

When it comes to speaking, I’m reminded what I so often forget; words matter. They carry weight, power even. Therefore, what we say and hear, and when we speak matters too. In the category of speaking, I highlight confession, encouragement and silence, or knowing when to not speak as future blog posts.

When it comes to action, I would like to make a distinction between discipline, as the fruit of our training, and rhythms, as routines that we practice. Distinguishing between discipline as law and training that leds to a more self-controlled life is often subtle, so we will start with this reminder that we are all learners. Some rhythms I plan to highlight then are work, rest, and celebration.

Listen, Speak, Do. Which topic are you most curious about? Let us know!

Happy First Day of Summer! + Spring 2017 Highlights!

Here is how the South hill is ringing in the first day of summer! How will you celebrate today? Do you (your family, your neighborhood) have any start of summer traditions? I’d love to hear about them!

Top five highlights of Spring 2017


On Mama, Love & Loss

Make Time for you

Listening: It’s our Turn! – wrapped up book discussion


Listening to my life: the voice of Love as Author


Where is the voice of love in my struggle?

If you have stories to share, I’d love to hear those too!!

Listening to others’ lives: the voice of Love in the Space between

So, yesterday, I shared about a friend who has experienced God through her desire to help others. If you missed it, I encourage you to check out my post and her blog.

Today, I want to share a poem I came across via Danielle’s blog because:

  1. I liked the poem!
  2. It is another example of someone hearing the voice of Love in a personal way and responding to it.
  3. It connects the ideas of the voice of Love, self-care, & individuality, at least in my mind!

Check out https://www.judysorumbrown.com/blog/breathing-space and scroll to the end of the post to read Judy’s poem “Fire.”

How have you experienced the voice of Love?

Care to share? We’re listening!

A Writer’s Journey


A timeline of my journey as a writer since starting this blog…
  • June – I started the blog as a way to set aside time to write & to see what topics I & others might be interested in writing/reading about
  • July –  surprised to discover I was def not going to run out of ideas to write about, and a lot of time learning the (basic) technical side of things
  • August – began sharing the blog with friends & family
  • September – began submitting monthly “feelers” – submitted an essay in a magazine contest
  • October – submitted two poems to an online journal
  • November – entered a short story contest
  • December  – entered a local poetry contest
  • January – started having a focus for each day (M-F) on the blog, including a weekly book discussion; also, started personal editorial calendar
  • February – started identifying genres, themes & writing topics I’m passionate about, asking what do I want to focus on (& not!)
  • March – realized I have not been continuing to submit something once a month as planned, but I have done a lot of research about opportunities to do so, and have ideas, and even some writing, just been using my time for blogging instead of submitting – process, right?
  • April – will begin sharing stories from other writers (you?!); I’ve sketched out a lot of ideas through the fall, and written posts into May; I feel like I would like to gain more technical knowledge and submit more writings, but feel like it is hard to find the time, and have more ideas than I can realistically implement, so trying to be patient and let focus develop; definitely experiencing overlap between life and writing
What are some ideas you have for the blog?
I love hearing from you!


Listening to my life: the voice of Love as Author

We’ve said that one way to listen to our lives is to listen for the voice of Love. I believe that God is multi-faceted, and that He reveals different aspects of Himself through each of his children. This belief is one reason I also believe we need each other: as we get to know others, our vision of God enlarges.

Personally, God as Author has been one way that I have experienced the voice of Love. I have always loved language and story. I see God in literature, in the Bible and in people’s lives.

The idea of the Bible as the Story of God has been particularly impactful to me as it is a way to read the text as a grand narrative in which God is the main character, but we all play a role. Spending time listening to others tell their life stories with the perspective that we are all part of the larger story has also been a significant part of my own journey.

Last Spring, I felt the Author was asking me to pursue writing in a new way. In essence, He was reminding me that I have a story, many stories to tell, that I have been given a voice, that we all have, and that as his beloved daughter, I am free to author in his name. The questions were:

Would I set aside the time? And would I have the courage to share?

Winter 2016-2017 Highlights

Here is a sampling of this winter’s contemplations…

Life is busy, so here is your chance to get caught up! If you dare, choose two or three posts that stand out to you, and let me know what has challenged or encouraged you!

from December –

A Spark

When God works (in spite of you)

Pray and Plan

January –

Introduction: Paying Attention

What do you love?


February –

Defining Margin

Community: Listening Together

Listening in Silence