And Other Thoughts

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Power of One Moment

As a child, I never received much positive reinforcement, if any at all. The nuns at school used to pull me aside in empty hallways and tell me how I was going to hell, and my parent’s were never ones for telling me that they loved me or were proud of me. So moving into my teen years, I never felt I had much potential to do anything.

Imagine my surprise one day when my high school Creative Writing teacher, Vern Weinke, pulled me aside and told me that I was a gifted writer. I will never forget my reaction: I laughed in his face and told him to get lost.

My very first day of class I sat in the back row and heckled him, sneering at the entire idea of the ridiculous required course. However, when I started writing, something changed inside of me, and by the middle of semester, when most of my other friends had dropped out, I was sitting in the front row, raising my hand, and meeting fellow nerds I typically made fun of.

I never trusted anyone to tell me anything good about myself because I never heard it, so I always figured if someone did tell me something nice there was an ulterior motive behind it. But Vern kept on encouraging me, sending my poetry to professors at UW Parkside, and enrolling me (with his own money, mind you) into weekend writing retreats at the college.

By the end of the semester, Vern called me in for a special one-on-one meeting after school. I sat at a desk in the empty classroom and Vern walked in and laid out college brochures in front of me. “I think you should consider going to college,” he blurted. Again, I laughed.

You see, my future didn’t look so bright. I was eighteen years old, getting ready to graduate with honors. Doesn’t sound so terrible, right? What made my situation unique was that I was a teenage mother. My outlook was limited. I didn’t have the luxury of my parents sending me off to college, because for one thing they never thought of me as ever doing anything important. That’s exactly what I told Vern that day. “There’s no way I can go to college. I have to support my son.”

When my son was six years old, and I had established myself at my first job as a very motivated and intelligent Assistant, I remembered Vern’s lecture that day and enrolled in college to become a teacher.
Throughout the several years of my part time college experience, every writing teacher I ever had pulled me aside, gleaming and grinning over my work, and would encourage me to pursue writing as a career. So I eventually changed my major to Fiction Writing. Unfortunately, being a single mom prevented me from completing college because I always needed to work and couldn’t afford to continue.
So I continued to miserably work in dead end jobs where my real talents weren’t appreciated. And then one day back in 2005, after a horrendous skit at a major non-profit organization organizing statewide meetings and being mistreated day after day, I had finally had it. I stayed home one day and plowed through craigslist (when it wasn’t a market for scam artists, but a legitimate job source) and stumbled upon a couple of freelance writing jobs, both of which hired me immediately. To say I eagerly turned in my resignation is an understatement!

Two years later my first novel, She Is…, was published with rave reviews. Today, several dozen of my articles have been published worldwide; my blog, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God, is linked to two major charities, and I’ve never looked over another cubicle since.

What’s my point? That one moment with Vern changed my life. It also sparked many more afterwards, thus implementing in me a desire to do something I would have otherwise never considered. Writing was a fluke for me. It wasn’t something I knew I was good at, I just happened to fall into it because someone saw something in me I didn’t know existed.
Although it took me near a lifetime to figure it out, I know I can stem what I do now to that one moment in my life. Back when Vern pulled me aside, I didn’t have the confidence to believe in him or me, so I didn’t bother with it. Today I’m pursuing it head on. What I truly ponder from time and time, is where I would be today had I just listened to Vern in the first place and started college immediately out of high school.
Dr. Wess Stafford, author of the book, Just a Minute, and President of Compassion International, explains how brief moments in life can change a life forever! And scriptures tell us that there is power of life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

What we say, and how we say it, can spark life or death in someone’s life. We should always try to make a habit of encouraging people, especially young, impressionable children. We may be the only one in their lives who says anything nice to them or about them, and what we say may bring hope into their lives…hope they never knew existed.

How can just a minute change a child’s life? Watch and find out!

{Who has impacted your life in one moment?}


Loved reading your story! Just a Minute didn’t just touch my heart, it stirred me to action. sure, I thought about my own "moments" but I also resolved to give those moments to kids in my life. The book is a great collection of stories of pivotal moments when someone spoke a word of encouragement, or noticed a child, or named that child’s strength—and the results lasted forever. After being inspired by these stories, I decided it wouldn’t take much for me to offer that kind of encouragement.
That's what it's all about. Making sure that our brief "moments" in people's lives make a positive impact.

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