Sheila Knitting - A New Chapter--And My Last Column

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 175 - A New Chapter--And My Last ColumnI’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.

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