A New Chapter–And My Last Column

Sheila Knitting

Today is my last Reality Check column that I’m writing for newspapers.

I’ve been doing this for 11 1/2 years, but after a lot of prayer and thought I notified the papers that this would be my last week.

I’m just finding that my other writing responsibilities are expanding so fast, and a weekly deadline is a stress that is getting too hard to manage.

Another Reality Check cover 175I’m not going to stop writing, though, and I’m actually excited about what this opens up on the blog. On Fridays I’d like to start writing more contemplative/commentary pieces, rather than advice pieces. Just posts about what I’m thinking, or what God’s telling me, or what ticks me off in the news right now (sometimes we all need posts like that!). I guess basically the same sort of thing I wrote my columns about, except that I can be explicitly Christian if I want to be, and I don’t have to aim for just 600 words.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Playing with Fire (do we treat adultery too cavalierly?) I’d love to run more where I’m just thinking out loud about current issues!

So I’m not going anywhere–I’m just not going to be in the paper anymore. I’m so glad that God gave me that opportunity to write in a bunch of local papers, but it has come time to move on.

In the meantime, if you’ve liked my columns, I do have a book with my absolute favourite ones since 2005 right here. You can also get the .pdf for just $2.99 (it’s on sale this week!)

Here’s my column:

The only constant in life is change. Some seasons of life, though, rush changes through even more than others, and I’m in the midst of one of those seasons. One daughter has left home; one is learning to drive. I have two book contracts due this year. And perimenopause is causing my hemoglobin levels to plummet faster than Rob Ford’s reputation. Call me unimpressed.

When I started writing this column my children were five and seven. We were just beginning our homeschooling journey. Today instead of my days being consumed with teaching math and reading great books out loud, I’m writing blog posts and planning speaking tours and trying to find time to write more books.

And so it is that after eleven and a half years, and six hundred columns, I’ve decided to concentrate on other things. My blog is taking so much of my attention that I find deadlines a little more intimidating than I did when the biggest thing on my plate was finishing a Science lesson with my daughters.

I type this with a heavy heart, because I have so enjoyed having this outlet for my thoughts. Whenever I felt ticked about something, I would always think, “I can write a column about that!” And I’d start planning it–while driving, while in the shower, while making dinner. It was wonderful to know that I’d be able to put my thoughts down on paper.

Being a local columnist was such a treat, too. I couldn’t go to the grocery store, or take my kids to swimming, or walk into church without someone mentioning last week’s column. People read what I wrote, and for that I am very humbled and very grateful.

I still have issues which I wish I could have explored more, or at least lended a little more eloquence. I am dreadfully worried about the institution of marriage, because I do think that it’s the bedrock of healthy children, healthy families, and a healthy society.

I am constantly frustrated by our entitlement culture, and by the way the government bends over backwards for those who have messed up, while leaving those who have done nothing wrong flailing. And I can’t think of a better example of government’s failing than with the foster care system. We give biological parents chance after chance, letting them collect welfare money, methadone treatments, and many other government programs, while their kids languish in care. Too few are adopted out, because parents are given “second chances”. And by the time the kids are taken away for good, they’re so scarred that adopting them is difficult. Why do parents get second chances while kids don’t even get first chances?

We will never have a healthy society until people bear the consequences of their actions. We are fostering too much irresponsibility, and not enough maturity and independence. And it scares me.

And so there is still much to say, and much work to do. I will just be doing it a different way. I’m in the middle of writing a book for Simon & Schuster called 9 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage. My blog, To Love, Honor and Vacuum (tolovehonorandvacuum.com), had 600,000 visits last month, and it’s growing all the time. I share my parenting and marriage thoughts there, and I do hope you will join me.

Most of all, though, I hope that over the last eleven and a half years I have written something that has made you love your family more, smile at strangers more, or consider faith again. If I have done that, then I will be happy indeed.


  1. Butterflywings says:

    I would agree that some deadbeat parents get too many chances – having been through family court with a violent abusive exhusband, not even the fact that the court admitted he was a violent, drug addicted, deeply disturbed person stood in the way of him getting shared custody. And child protective services just deemed it a matter for the family court and refused to get involved, even after my daughter reported being molested by one of dangerous violent, mentally disturbed, drug addicts (and dealers) they knew he was exposing our daughter to.

    But on the flipside, I know of multiple cases where children have been stolen by the government despite the parents being good loving parents – many of them loving christian families – based on false accusations, or ridiculous reasons like one of the parents having a mild disability that doesn’t impact on their parenting at all. These kids are dumped in the foster system where they do get abused, and then adopted out. Losing their families, losing their friends, and never knowing why.

    Why do kids get taken away from loving parents who have done nothing wrong and then adopted out – often to families that aren’t loving like their family of birth.

    Parents of special needs children in particular are terrified of asking for help because the government will often swoop in and take kids away rather than offering things like welfare and respite. Paying foster carers thousands to have these kids, when all the parents need is a few dollars to access therapy programs for their kids.

    The system is a mess, but often the government is too QUICK to remove kids and put them in foster care and adopt them out. But no one hears the voices of the good loving parents who are having their kids stolen by the government today. Not a decade ago, not 50 or 100 years ago, but now, every day.

    Seen this happen to too many good loving christian families. While at the same time families like me, fleeing domestic violence, can’t get any protection for our kids from violent abusers. Not because the government helps biological parents – but because fathers “rights” in family court trump a child’s genuine right to safety. The government won’t do a thing to protect biological mothers from abusive biological fathers. Won’t even enforce domestic violence orders – if you’re lucky enough to get one in the first place. And family court orders override DV orders anyway.

    We need to protect our kids, and show people that bad behaviours have consequences, but we also need to protect those who need help and not snatch kids away from those who have done nothing wrong. We need to make sure good families who need help feel safe to ask for it without threat of losing their kids.

  2. Congratulations on beginning a new chapter. I am going through a career change of sorts myself. I have a job that, like your column did, allows to to express myself creatively and be “special.” I am pretty unassuming otherwise, but at a social gathering when people talk about what they do for a living, my job always trumps the rest. Everybody always wants to hear more about it. It will be difficult transitioning to saying, “I was a…” I don’t want to be like one of those old retired men who defines himself by what he used to do, trying to maintain status by being the former CEO or president of kind of thing. I expect the loss of the column, though gloriously freeing in some ways, will be missed in others.

    600,000 hits in a month. WOW! I just started blogging, after about a year of urging by other bloggers, on Dec. 26, 2013. My biggest day has been only 110, which is fine for now. I read in a book on blogging that that date was the 10th anniversary of Matt Mullenweg creating WordPress with its release to the general public about 3 months later. I thought it appropriate to start then. I was going to be private for a shakedown cruise but somebody came in under the radar the first day and I just hit the ground running. I really get a lot of pleasure out of writing and reading comments from our little community. They are all very good people.

    Now go write some more books.
    Dan recently posted…“Look away! I’m hideous.”: Part 3My Profile

  3. I panicked a bit when i saw this post title, worried you were ending this blog. It is so good and so inspirational to our whole family! You and your talents have been such a blessing for us. Keep up the good work and please know what a positive difference you are making in so many lives with your writing – regardless of the method (column, blog, book, speaking, etc.) May God bless you, your family & your ministry in whatever form it takes!

    • purplecandy says:

      Same thing here ! Joe said it better than me, but I want to take that opportunity to thank you for following God’s lead for your ministry. I don’t think you realize how you impact people’s lives, in a positive way ! Many thanks for your work !

  4. Congratulations on moving into a new chapter of life! I’m a 100% supporter of your ministry, Sheila!

    And I’m now going to look up hemoglobin levels, because yeah, this perimenopause stuff is not impressing me either. 😉
    J at HotHolyHumorous recently posted…Making the Most of His ManhoodMy Profile

  5. Denise Porter says:

    Interesting timing. I’ve been feeling like God has been prompting me to get back to writing columns again … I did a weekly one for about 4 years. Could you send me a private email and maybe I could “fill the gap” that you have left behind. Not marriage stuff specifically just inspirational columns about the Christian life and making the world a better place. I could send you some samples….Thanks!

  6. Praying that God will continue to minister through you in this transition, and that you will indeed be able to speak the truth in love with greater boldness.

  7. {Melinda} It’s really hard to let go of things that we love, but I know that when we’re obedient to God’s direction, He always honors that. Blessings on the writing of you new book and all the new opportunities coming your way. Very exciting.
    Mothering From Scratch recently posted…the mom superpower we don’t use enoughMy Profile

  8. Congrats and best wishes on your new chapter in life! I’m looking forward to you writing more books!
    Best wishes,
    Shaylah Coogan recently posted…A Time For RenewalMy Profile

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