I am rarely at a loss for words. I love words. Words that inform. Words that inspire. I love to speak, sing, read, and write words. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will acknowledge, “Jackie loves to talk, sing, read and write.”
My passion for words blossomed as a child when my grandmother, Nettie Thomas, introduced me to literature. Her home had a wonderful collection of books stored in a little bookcase. That tiny library, filled with her favorite authors – Louisa Mae Alcott, Margaret Mitchell, Zane Grey, and Mary Jane Holmes – is where my passion for reading and writing originated.
Grandma often talked about characters in the Little Prudy books and Little Women as if they were childhood friends. From the comfort of her living room, she took me on adventures in the western frontiers while reading Zane Grey westerns. I experienced the Civil War through the eyes of Mitchell’s Scarlett O-Hara. And, of course, Grandma introduced me to Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Bobbsey Twins, and the Hardy Boys.
For many happy hours, I created library cards to catalog her books. I fabricated imaginary friends who “checked the books out” from the library there in Grandma’s home. Grandma would sometimes visit The Library to check books out, return a few books, and offer a review of the books’ plots and characters. Yes, my love for the printed word began in that home. I’ve often wondered why I didn’t become a librarian.
This passion for words led me to my educational and professional paths. I am a retired early childhood educator. From the vantage point of time, I realized I chose that career so I could share my passion for reading and writing and see the magic spark in children’s minds.
I see it again now that I am a grandmother. When my grandchildren pull a book off the shelves in my home library, they understand they are holding and reading books that once belonged to their great-great-grandmother’s little library. The legacy of story is being passed down to another generation.
I believe in the power of the written and spoken word.
Over the past decades, I have journaled and written thoughts—random thoughts, streams of consciousness, lists, prayers, anything that came to mind. As I re-read my thoughts, dreams, and fears page after page, I discovered that my feelings didn’t fester or flounder inside me or explode onto the people around me; I entrusted them to my journals. Looking back at my thoughts, I recognize my lows and highs, but more importantly, I see God present on every page. Journaling helped me pay attention.
I’m grateful for this stroll down memory’s highway. Even in the darkest moments, I can read how God led and held me every step of the way.
Later in life, grief became a huge part of my journey. My husband’s brain cancer diagnosis soon taught us how to walk the lonely pace of not only a grim diagnosis and prognosis, but the loss of the future we had dreamt of having together.
The journal entries during those years of caring for Roy are filled with medical notes that directed our journey through treatment options. Roy’s words encouraged me in one of the darkest moments: “Jackie, we aren’t dying with cancer; we are living with cancer.” Those words projected the perspective we shared until he drew his last breath.
Writing through my grief journey and sharing my lessons helped me immeasurably in my Christian walk. I hope that sharing those words and lessons will offer some guidance and insight to you, my reader. Let’s discover – and rediscover- the power of words together.
Composing my devotional, Keep a Song in Your Heart, Musical Notes for Daily Devotions, guided me through the darkest days following my mother’s death. When I held the sheet music my mother once played for me as a soloist, countless precious memories unfolded. Basing devotionals on these gospel masterpieces became the avenue for this stage of my journey through loss and grief.
Today I want to encourage you on your journey, wherever you are. I urge you to write to explore the thoughts, lessons, and challenges you face. Take a few moments, find a notebook (it doesn’t have to be fancy), and write your thoughts—random thoughts, streams of consciousness, lists, prayers, anything that comes to mind. There are no right or wrong ways to journal. You may enjoy creating a gratitude journal, where you list everything big and small that makes you grateful. One day, as you look back on those pages, you may find yourself saying, as I did, “I can’t believe I got through that!” Or “What was I thinking?” Or “I miss that part of my life.”
Perhaps you are like me and enjoy playing word games like Scrabble, Boggle, or Wordle. The hours I’ve spent playing these games illustrated an important goal: I wasn’t working for speed or points; I played those games to expand my vocabulary and create greater awareness and appreciation for words.
Where would we be if it weren’t for the words passed down to us through the Bible – God’s Holy Word? LOST.
A chance meeting with award-winning author Cynthia Furlong Reynolds in 2014 changed my writer’s life trajectory.
A new chapter began to emerge.
Cynthia’s mentorship and editorial advice helped me unearth the magic of writing with purpose and direction. As a prolific author, Furlong Reynolds has written memoirs, fiction, non-fiction, and journalistic freelance work. But by far, the most influential piece she offered me came in her textbook, Writing S’mores Workbook: Teaching Students of Every Age How to Make Magic on a Page.
I fell in love with words all over again with her S’mores analogy.
I will never sit around a campfire and enjoy S’mores without giving the nod and a smile to my brilliant friend and teacher, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds.
To learn more about the Writing S’mores Workbook and Cynthia’s work, visit www.CynthiaFurlongReynolds.com.
I hope I have done for you what she did for me: offered inspiration to fall in love with words and the stories we can tell with them.
Daily words bless me. They have tremendous power to heal, open hearts, mend relationships, praise, sympathize, offer help, share – and so much more.
What are words you like to read, hear, or say?
I love the words:
Thank you. You are a blessing. I’m sorry.
I love you! Please forgive me. I’m home!
Can I help you? I’m not sure I know what you mean. I’m here for you.
Can you help me understand? Have a blessed day.
So grateful for your friendship. That’s what friends do for friends.
You didn’t need to do that, but I am pleased you did.
Do consider using powerful words and phrases like these so you, too, can tell powerful stories – to your journal, your friends, your loved ones, and future generations. We all love a good story, as my grandma revealed to me six decades ago – and as I teach my grandchildren. Cherish and record your stories, thoughts, moods, fears, and doubts. You will also be glad you wrote them down one day.
What are some of your favorite expressions? Could you share them in the comments below?