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March 17, 2012

(Originally published in March, 2009. As my own father has entered my life, I’m reflecting on David.)


The last conversation I had with my father-in-law was about writing. “How’s your writing, Dad?” I asked him as he sat on our couch surrounded by Curious George books.

“It’s in my head.”  He smiled softly, his eyes crinkling as they met mine. “I think about it…a lot.”

“Never a day without a line,” I told him, earnestly. “You need to write every day. I’ve started writing…at least a little. I, uh, have a blog.”

The words tumbled out. Surprised me. I’ve blogged for almost two years and never told him about it. I was embarrassed, I think, for him to read about my depression and my struggles. But I wanted to be honest with him. I wanted him to know me a little more. Maybe it would encourage him to write, too.

Though his days were full of law and farming, in the deepest part of his heart, my father-in-law wanted to be a writer. His office was full of writing books and stacks of old copies of Writer’s Digest. Piles of paper and pens waited for the words he had not yet written. He was going to start soon – that was his careful plan.

He would write his books when he retired. One day he would look out over the fields he both loved and hated and write the stories locked away in his quiet soul.

“Well, Jess,” David said as he was packing up that Sunday, “do you think you could email me the link to your blog? And the website where I could get a blog of my own?”

Never, never, never had he listened to me about taking an immediate step towards writing. I grinned, and a deep feeling of love spread up from my gut.

“Yeah, Dad. Of course.”

Wednesday morning he was dead. As we drove the horrible ten hours to Indiana with our crying children, one of the thoughts that kept occurring to me was:

“He never got to write his book…He never got to write his book.”

The thing I didn’t really understand until I lost him is that death means…you’re gone. My father-in-law’s work on this earth is finished.

I want to learn this last lesson from him. I don’t want to wait. I want to pursue the dreams that I, too, have tucked carefully away. I want to be bold even when I am afraid of failure. I want to write and laugh and fling my arms out to the world without fear. Without pause.

I don’t want any words left when Wednesday comes.


Proverbs 31 Ministries is offering a scholarship to this year’s She Speaks Conference.  She Speaks is a two-day series of workshops and seminars on writing, speaking, blogging, and ministry.  Some of my favorite people will be speaking there.  But more then hearing their words, I want to catch their vision of living boldly.

I want to listen and to learn. I want to take notes and meet new people. I want to have women challenge me to write, to speak, and to hope in the gifts God has placed in me.

I want to live unafraid.


I think that whether I win or not, David would be proud of me for trying to go.

Never a day without a line, Dad.

That goes for me, too.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2009 11:00 pm

    I”m crying, Jess. This has been a hard week. Stellan at MckMama’s blog is struggling.. Seth’s birthday is on Friday and I don’t know how to honor it..

    Hold onto THIS.. Life is too short. Reach for those dreams today. Don’t, do NOT let that determination you’re feeling in your heart right now fade. It’s so hard, life gets in the way… After Seth died, I was going to cherish EVERY single moment and I’m ashamed at how quickly I’ve forgotten that lesson..

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. March 25, 2009 11:03 pm

    I hope they give you that scholarship,Jess. Really, really want you to be able to go.

  3. March 26, 2009 5:01 am

    I got all choked up reading this… I hope you get that scholarship!

  4. Katrina permalink
    March 26, 2009 6:45 am

    Jess…this is amazing.You are such a wonderful writer. I am so encouraged.
    miss you

  5. March 26, 2009 7:50 am

    What a beautiful post, Jess. I was really touched by it. And convicted, so thank you for that little kick in the butt. 🙂

  6. March 26, 2009 9:11 am

    He can still write those books. Maybe that will be his job in Heaven. XO

  7. March 26, 2009 9:29 am

    I am so sorry to read about your loss. I can’t imagine your grief. I’m leaning on Tawny’s comment about his job in heaven.

    I hope you can get to She Speaks on a scholarship. If not, please do write. May you face your fears with courage and find much reward along the way for your hard work, Obviously, you have the desire for a reason. God knows why.

    God bless,


  8. March 26, 2009 10:48 am

    What a beautiful and poignant post. It moved me to tears. I am so very sorry for your loss and am motivated to pray for your future.

  9. March 26, 2009 3:45 pm

    Oh, Jess.
    This is so beautifully put.
    Sweet blessings to you as you step out in faith, poised and ready to be a drink offering, spilled fully and with no remorse for your Savior.

  10. March 26, 2009 9:52 pm

    Whether our words are written for many or written for a few, when they are written for Him, they will impact people up close – where it counts. I hope to meet you at She Speaks!

  11. March 30, 2009 10:06 am

    wow. This is powerful. Thank you for sharing it…his careful plan for someday doing what he longed for now. What a sad but inspiring motivation to live.

    hope to see you at She Speaks 🙂

  12. March 30, 2009 5:28 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes as well. Praying for your dream to attend the conference and wishing you luck in the contest!

  13. April 3, 2009 10:56 am

    How wonderful that your Dad’s legacy lives on….

  14. April 3, 2009 10:57 am

    Congratulations! Now I WILL see you at She Speaks!!!

  15. April 3, 2009 11:09 am

    This is so moving. So motivating. What a great way to live…Never a day without a line. I just took the pledge to God in January that I would write everyday too.

    Congratulations!!! I so hope to see you there and to meet you personally!

  16. April 3, 2009 11:11 am

    Congratulations- so glad and excited for you!

  17. April 3, 2009 11:20 am

    I have tears. Wow, what a powerful testimony to get out and do what you feel led to do. As the girls from my church would say, “Do it afraid.” Good for you for doing it afraid! I hope you have a great time at the conference. Congratulations on being selected!!

  18. April 3, 2009 11:23 am

    Congrats on being chosen to attend She Speaks!!! God’s best blessings on your writing ministry.

  19. April 3, 2009 11:48 am

    Dear Jess,
    I am so excited for you. Maybe we will be able to meet “for real” at She Speaks now! I am so glad that I found your blog about a year ago.
    God has blessed me through your words, through laughter and tears.
    I pray the best for you my friend,

  20. April 3, 2009 12:06 pm

    Congratulations Jess!

  21. April 3, 2009 12:13 pm

    What a great post to read! I’m sure David is smiling in heaven right now just cheering you on! You know, my pop-in-love is also a writer. We encourage each other as well. In fact, it is because of him that I will be able to attend She Speaks this year. He sent me a check for half of the cost. I’m so thankful that God saw fit to place us in such wonderful families.

    Congratulations on the scholarship to She Speaks! I’ll see you there!

  22. April 3, 2009 12:50 pm

    Congratulations! I’m thrilled that you won! God is mighty and powerful and I love to hear what He will do with your writing. I hope to meet you at the conference.

  23. April 3, 2009 1:11 pm

    Hooray! Oh, Jess! I am so excited for you! Truly, truly!!!
    Love you!!!
    K 🙂

  24. April 3, 2009 1:21 pm

    Oh yes, I totally remember your post. I am so glad you won! Congratulations. I hope to meet you there this summer.

  25. April 3, 2009 1:32 pm

    Oh my goodness! This is one of the most beautiful pieces on the urgency of writing that I have ever read.

    Congrats on the win. May you be blessed!

  26. April 3, 2009 1:42 pm

    Happy, Happy, Happy Dance for you!!!!


    See you there!

  27. April 3, 2009 1:52 pm

    Congratulations. It sounds like God is encouraging your dreams through pain & excitement.


  28. April 3, 2009 2:09 pm

    YEAH, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! SO, so thrilled that my deserving, gifted, beautiful friend won!!

    THIS post/entry is a GREAT example of your incredible gift of writing.

    Love you!

  29. April 3, 2009 2:41 pm

    Congratulations! Your post is beautifully written and I’m so glad I read it. Thanks for paying that “writing urgency” forward a bit. I’m sorry about your father-in-law.

  30. April 3, 2009 4:10 pm

    For He will bring purpose to His beautiful design in You! Congrats…I know you will enjoy this conference!

  31. Tracy Jenks permalink
    April 3, 2009 4:34 pm

    Congratulations Jess!

    All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. That’s you and me. With God all things are possible!

    Go Girl!

    With much love

  32. April 3, 2009 5:08 pm

    Jess!!!! I’m so excited for you!!! Praise God! Congratulations!

  33. Sharon Sloan permalink
    April 3, 2009 5:23 pm


    So excited for the winners! 🙂 Rejoicing with and for you!
    You will be SO BLESSED at She Speaks! You will love the P31 gals! And the best thing…they teach by word and example that before She Speaks, first She Listens…to Him! 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear about all God does in your hearts for His glory and purposes at She Speaks! We will be following you and praying for you!

    Happy dancing for you!

  34. April 3, 2009 5:50 pm

    Congratualtions and Wow – what a powerful story. It reminds me of Natasha Bedingfield’s song Unwritten. Jess, God is writing His story through you. I am celebrating that He made a way and He chose you to come to She Speaks.

    Can’t wait to meet you there!


  35. April 3, 2009 9:52 pm

    Congrats on winning the contest! God is so good!!!

  36. April 4, 2009 9:40 am

    Congratulations on wining the contest. Keep writing His-story through you.


  37. April 4, 2009 10:05 pm

    I cried! Thank you for the reminder to follow our hearts calling.

    I too have wanted to write for years and been encouraged by others along the way. But what to write? Where to publish?

    I only discovered blogging when I was selected as part of a homeschool curriculum program. It still seems a little self absorbed to me to be writing a blog.

    When I read your post(s) I realized that this medium can be a blessing to others – as we share our struggles and our insights.

    Congratulations on winning the scholarship. Perhaps I’ll see you at the conference!

  38. April 8, 2009 3:08 pm

    This beautiful. I look forward to seeing you at She Speaks!

  39. stephanie Renner permalink
    March 17, 2012 9:36 am

    sounds awesome. You go girl!!!


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