Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: December 2016

Wordplay Wednesday: What I Know By Heart

Wordplay Wednesday: What I know by heart

This weekend, the calendar, in a rare, serendipitous juxtaposition, ushers in both Christmas and Hanukkah, followed by the beginning of Kwanzaa on Monday.  To me, it is a perfect year for the holidays to overlap so completely. We need unity in our celebrations of what we all believe and hold dear. And we each need to articulate those things to ourselves and to one another.

I am reading an Advent devotional book called Why This Jubilee?,  written by a local church pastor, James C. Howell. It contains daily meditations on the meanings of specific lines from familiar Christmas songs. It is a lovely book and filled with many  memorable phrases that I have jotted down. One in particular made me stop and reflect over the last few days since I read it.

James Howell asks the reader to consider what we “know by heart.”  On the one hand to know something by heart means to have something  committed to memory as  a  well-loved song , poem or quote.  Another way to think of  knowing something by heart is to reflect on those things that our heart tells us  are true no matter what is going on in the world around us. It is this concept that I want to ask you to consider with me.

What do you know “by heart?” What does your heart tell you about the world, faith, people, circumstances, right and wrong?  I think that at this time of year and in this year in particular it is  something we should all consider.

Here is some of  what I know by heart:

No matter the circumstances in the world, God is still in control.  I can trust  in His goodness and sovereignty even when politics, governments and mortal humans disappoint.

All people are made in the image of the Creator and have innate worth, no matter their race, color, nation of origin, faith or  financial position. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, compassion and courtesy.

Despite the skewed version of the world given by the news, most people in the world  simply want to pursue a quiet life in which they provide a  safe home, enough food and hope for a better future for their families..  Everyone deserves a chance to  pursue those dreams.

Every person is created on purpose and for a purpose. We are all individually  designed to offer our unique gifts and dreams to the world.  We are given skills, talents and abilities not to hoard, but to share with others in order to enrich all of human experience.

Being kind, considerate and generous are not weaknesses, but are the true measure of a person’s strength.  To quote George Eliot, “ What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

What do you know by heart?

Wordplay Wednesday: Inspiration in the Words of Others

Wordplay Wednesday: Inspiration in the Words of Others


As a word nerd and bookworm I love quotes. I often come across sayings that are just so right, so perfect for my life at a particular moment. When I discover a new one it is that feeling of “Yes! That is exactly how I feel. How clever to put it that way.” ( or sometimes,” I wish I had said that!” )


I think it is a great gift to be able, in just a few words, to aptly delineate feelings and emotions that resonate with large numbers of people. It is as if the originator of the quote has tapped into a collective conscience and then summed it up in a memorable phrase.


I know this love of quotes is quite common: think of all of the pillows, t-shirts, mugs, posters and pieces of art that are sold with various famous sayings on them. A quick tour of Pinterest reveals numerous boards devoted to quotes. I happen to have one myself. There is something almost universally satisfying about discovering words that speak to you, whether they are funny, sad, motivational or inspiring. It is validation that someone else thinks like you do and that in turn connects us to other hearts and minds.


I think most people have several quotes or sayings that are particularly meaningful to them. Of course, depending on one’s temperament, experiences and life situation a certain quote will more important. Can you recall some personal favorites?

Do you have t-shirts or other items with a favorite expression? Have you ever posted or shared a saying on social media?

pen-writing-notes-studying girl

Today I want you to take some time and think about a special quote that has made an impact on you. I invite you to ponder why that saying is so special and then journal about it.

Write the quote at the top of a piece of paper. If you feel particularly artsy, make use a fancy lettering style or colorful markers. Now, as a free-write, quickly journal about what this quote means to you.


Here are some questions to guide you as you begin.


What was the original context?


What does it reveal about you?


Does the quote invite some action on your part?


Does it validate a belief?


I would love to hear about your favorite quotes . Perhaps you can turn your quote into a mixed media journal page, or a water colored and inked poster to display where it can constantly inspire you. Or just write it boldly in pen on a sticky note and attach it to your bathroom mirror or the corner of your computer screen.

pexels-photo joy

Here’s one of mine:

Ancora Imparo! ( this translated means “ I am still learning!”) It was said by Michelangelo when he was 87.


I first heard this quote when I was in the sixth grade. My teacher, Mrs. Baeszler, was an amazing woman. Despite the fact that she was likely past retirement age when she taught me and three years later my brother, she had a vibrancy, energy and zest for life that was unmatched. She challenged us to read, ask questions, to find a passion and to pursue learning for its own sake. She was the inspiration for me choosing to be a teacher.


I embrace this quote for that reason and also because it is central to the kind of life I want to live. I desire to always be growing learning and challenging myself to acquire new skills. To that end I am an avid reader of newspapers, informative blogs, histories, biographies, science and   more. I take art , writing and Bible study classes to improve my skills and knowledge in those areas. I also view/listen to lectures online about topics that capture my interest. I haunt bookstores and course catalogs looking for new sources of information.



There’s so much to be interested in and to learn about in our world. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a time that offers so many ways to access knowledge. I find it exciting and sometimes a bit overwhelming. But, I am never bored and never will be. I hope to be able to say at 87 and perhaps beyond:




Now I need to go make a poster!


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