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School it is! Now, how to pay for it!

As I posted a little while back, I am planning to return to school and FINALLY get a degree. I have spent 20 years of my life working as a nurse, (received my training through a vocational nursing program which included no college credit.)

I have been slowly taking a few classes here and there over the years with the intention, at that time anyway, of gaining my Associates degree in nursing and become an RN, but it just never felt right. Oh, I loved taking the classes, loved going to school! But, going for my degree in nursing just never satisfied me or felt right. So, over the past probably about a year now, I have been praying and asking God for guidance and wisdom in making a decision of what to do with my life.

You see, I retired from nursing about 4 years ago because of some health issues. I possibly could have returned but then I had cervical spine surgery to fuse a couple of vertebrae followed several months later by another spinal surgery all the way on the other end of the spectrum! I had to have two fusions and some titanium screws and plate installed on my S1-T4 vertebrae. Since having those procedures done, I have tried, really tried to get back to normal and be able to exercise, stand for lengthy times, do some light lifting, walking up and down stairs, but each and every one of these attempts has resulted in pain. Pain that very often is so severe, I have to take medication in addition to sitting or laying on my heating pad. Finally, I became convinced that I don’t think I will ever be able to do nursing again, at least not in the forums available in my area. I know I can’t work in a hospital setting, doctors office, or prison setting because of the standing, walking, and various other back breaking activities that are involved in those work positions. (Yes, I worked in a prison. Yep, it had scary moments.) I can’t handle lengthy drives so home health nursing is out of the question. I can’t do any heavy lifting so sitting with patients or anything that might cause me to have to lift someone is out. That doesn’t really leave a lot of choices in the nursing field.

So, as I said, I prayed, and prayed, asking God for direction and guidance about my career. I have had a couple of different things I have thought about and I just could not decide what I should do. During this time, I started volunteering with a wonderful organization, The East Texas Pregnancy Help Center, and through my volunteering there, I have grown closer to God each and every day. I believe it is greatly in part due to the strong faith of the people responsible for opening this center. There has never been a time that I entered those doors and did not feel the glory of God and know, without a doubt, that the Holy Spirit is present there.

At first, as I began volunteering there, I started thinking maybe I should go ahead and finish my nursing degree, but still, it did not feel right. I also thought about obtaining a degree in psychology. I felt like either of these degrees would help me to be better at what I do at the center. But, again, it did not feel quite right! So, I prayed and prayed and finally I got an answer.

I can distinctly remember hearing God tell me “write the story”. Huh? What story? What are you talking about God? And again, I heard “write.” I have always loved writing, especially since winning a competition in high school!! Yep, long time ago! But, I said “Okay God. If you want me to write, show me what to write.” God always follows through! He sent me to a very precious lady who had a wonderful story that I was just itching to write about! Doesn’t it just amaze you how God’s timing is always so PERFECT? It sure amazes me!

Because of God’s perfect timing, I was able to speak to the young man I was going to write about the day before he would be leaving for several weeks for various rodeo competitions. I was able to obtain assurance from the editor of our local paper to print the story when I finished it! Talk about being excited!! I was very excited!!

Well, I met with the young man and his fiancee’, wrote and submitted the story, and was super excited and a bit overwhelmed to see it published in not only my small town paper the following week, but also in a larger regional paper (the parent company of our local paper). I was PUBLISHED!!! That is so amazing and absolutely huge in writing circles!!

So, I said okay God, obviously you want me to write, so I guess I better check on job openings and requirements. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was going to have to go back to school!! I need a degree in journalism/mass media. I know I’m weird but I look forward to getting started with my writing assignments!!

But, not so fast. College courses do not come free. I’ve found that, depending on which school I choose, I will be paying anywhere from almost $200 per credit hour and up significantly, with each class being at least 3 credit hours! So, I’m looking at about $2000 per semester! We can’t afford that!

I applied for a Pell Grant through FAFSA but when you are empty nest parents, you don’t qualify. Actually, we make too much. I wish they would show me where all this excess $$ they think we have is hidden!!! But, I know my God! If God wants me to go to school this fall, things will fall in place!

So, I am checking out any and all possible scholarships or grants that I can find. Trying to avoid student loans if at all possible.

So, as I work on a follow up story to my first one, and writing what I hope will be my first magazine story, I will be researching financial aid opportunities for school! I will also be working on some other story ideas I have, sending out queries to various print sources to see if anyone is interested in actually paying me for a story! Yep, my first one was a freebie, but I was just so excited to get published I didn’t care!!

So, wish me luck, pray for me. Ask God to lead me to the sources to pay for my education. I know with your prayers and mine, God will provide the clarification I need as well as whatever resources I need so that I can obtain this degree I need to be considered a “real writer”. That is something that doesn’t make a world of sense to me.

I mean, you either have a talent for writing, or you don’t, at least that’s what I think. I may not have the talent I believe I do, but I want to find out! But, if you have the talent, why is a college (four year) degree required? Oh well, I guess I’ll find out!!

Thank you God for the guidance you give me on a daily basis. You have blessed me beyond measure already, yet you are faithful to continue to bless me. I thank you for that! Please forgive me Father, for things I may have said or done that disappointed you. I ask these things in Jesus precious name! I love  you Lord! Amen

To write, to go to school, to return to my former type of work, or what?

For several weeks now, I have been contemplating what the next step in my life should be. My choices consist of going to college and actually finishing to get a Bachelor’s Degree, ( I already have all but 6 hours of my freshman year done!), to return to my former type of work, which was nursing as a Licensed Vocational Nurse, or just stay home and write, hoping and praying that I can start to get some articles or stories placed in newspapers or magazines who will agree to pay me for my work!

My dilemma is that I love to write, and I want to finish school. I have spent over 20 years working as a nurse and honestly, if I don’t get in just the right job, I wouldn’t be able to stick with it for long. Most of the time in nursing you have extended periods of standing, usually lifting, lots of bending over; all of these are things that really bother my back and put me in pain!

I don’t really want to go to work where I am in pain for the entire shift and then come home and stick myself to the heating pad! I would rather find a nursing job, if that is the way I decide to go, that is at least 75% computer or sitting in some way, and there just aren’t too many jobs like that out there. I have high hopes of something that is going on in our town which is an extension of a ministry I currently work with, East Texas Pregnancy Help Center. I just don’t know if it would pan out to be a paying job or not. I am at the point in my life that I need at least a part time job, with pay.

I want to finish school, but I’m not sure whether I want to major in Psychology and minor in communications, or major in communications and minor in psych or even English. I know with the psych or English degrees, I would be able to teach if I chose. The communications degree would give me some clout behind my name as I attempt to get my stories published. I love both subjects so I am really torn about this. I am leaning towards majoring in communications with a minor in Psych, if I can handle a minor as well!

The bottom line is the fact that I HAVE TO GET A JOB! At least on a part-time basis. I have to do something making my own money so I can stop feeling guilty when I ask my husband for money for gas or groceries, because I know that usually to do either one, we are having to push payment of one of our bills back. When I say we live from paycheck to paycheck, it really should be more like we live from paycheck to praying for a check!

Thing is, we went from a two person income a few years ago when I was really having some health problems, to a single income. Now this single income was sufficient to pay the bills and allow us to put food on the table as well as cover some of the unexpected things, like a flat tire or working on our well, etc. But now, since my husband was demoted last year, his pay was cut. Many people who know of the demotion, do not realize that his pay was cut as well. That has made for a very tough year for us! We are hoping that things are finally settling down and he will soon begin to get his pay at the same level that he was prior to the demotion. Don’t know if he is going to get his title back or not, but we will worry about that when it comes time. Right now our priority is to get his pay back to “normal.” This cut in pay is a huge part of the reason I am looking for a job.

I know that many of you are aware that I volunteer at our local pregnancy help center, and I love it! Ideally, I would be able to go to work there, even on a part-time basis, and at least making myself some pocket change as well as perhaps grocery money. I just don’t think that is going to happen. I love working there, but it has come time for me to find a paying job. Hopefully, I will find a job that will still allow me to volunteer at the center.

I really want to write. I love newswriting, in fact I won an award for newswriting in high school and qualified to participate in the state competition, but I let a boyfriend convince me to stay home that weekend, so I didn’t go to the competition. Looking back, I think “if only I had gone to that competition, maybe I would have won a scholarship!” But, I stayed home for the weekend instead.

I have already written one story for our local paper which also appeared on our regional paper, and yes, I have copies of both articles!! Talk about excited! I was so excited to see my name in print as the author of an article I almost could not contain myself. But, there was no pay involved in writing that article.

I have several ideas for additional articles, but I think it is only fair that if I am chasing these stories down, gathering the info, and then compiling a story, I should be getting paid! I know of some paid reporters that sit at their desks and try to think of things to write about, while they are on the payroll! It is strictly my opinion, but I believe if you are  being paid to write news stories, then you should be chasing down the good stories and writing them, and writing them well! But that doesn’t appear to happen much any more. It seems reporters would rather sit at their desk, maybe make a phone call or two and ask someone else to basically write the story for them, by sending the reporter all the facts and information regarding the subject and then the reporter takes the info received and creates a story out of it. I’m not saying that is a bad thing! I have done it myself. But you can’t do it that way all the time! Sometimes you have to get off your hindend and go chase a story down! I want the opportunity to do that! But not for free!

Am I wrong in wanting to be paid for my work? There are some things that I do for other people that most freelancers would charge heftily for, but I do it for free. Should I put a stop to the freebies and explain that I need to be paid to do this work? Or should I just leave the places that I so dearly love to enable me to find a job that will provide me with a paycheck? That just seems like a greedy way of looking at things, but it is really more of a survival thing. If I don’t start bringing in some money to our family finances soon, we are going to be seriously in pain!

Now, mind you, we have not hit the hottest summer months as of yet, but my electric bill already doubled last month!! I just don’t konw how we are going to pay these enormous electric bills, along with all the others, and have anything left for food! I know God will provide, but I also know that He does not expect us to just sit back and wait for Him to drop a fish in our lap!! I believe He expects us to work for the blessings He gives us. I don’t believe God created us to be people who just sit around and do nothing all day and just wait for God to pull us up out of our chairs, off the couch, or wherever, and send us to a job that he just dropped in our laps. I believe that He wants us out in the world working so that we can help others to see how He loves us and provides for us.

I am praying that God will grant me wisdom to make the right decision to stay or go at the center, to go to school, and where do I need to go to work at. If at a local paper, (there’s only one), do I continue to send them free stories to publish for free? My, and my husbands concern is that as long as I am giving them something for free, they are not going to offer to pay for it! But I do enjoy it so much!

In fact, I have an interview tomorrow (well today now) for a possible position as a sports statistics ‘reporter’ of sorts. If hired, I will gather stats on games and other activities and post them to a website for all the fans to have immediate access to their favorite teams progress.

Please pray for me to make the right decisions, in all areas. Do I continue to volunteer, which I so dearly love? Do I go ahead and start back to school for the f all semester? And how hard to I pursue my writing career? Do I write letters to the editors of a couple of local newspaper, as well as regionals, and pitch my writing ability for pay? Believe me, that is what I really want to do, but I know He is not going to just drop it on me. He expects me to get out and locate and apply for that position that is just right for me.

I just love to write, or can you tell? Have a wonderful day everyone!

Here it is!!

Well, here is my story in the local paper, as well the regional paper! I can’t express how excited I am about having my name under the title of  a story that I wrote! It is just the most incredible feeling and I am still just as giddy and happy about it as a teenager who just got asked to prom by her “dream date”!

I’m already working on another story an praying that it will get accepted to run in the paper as well. Hopefully, these stories will lead to my getting paid to write! That is my ultimate goal!! Wish me luck and all prayers are greatly appreciated! Thank you all as well, for the kind compliments. They mean so very much to me!

Judy

My Story

Writing has been something that I have always loved! I have dreamed of being a “star” reporter since I was very small. Now, I just dream of being able to write and have it published. I don’t care if I never get to be a “star” so long as  get to do what  love, which is write and have others enjoy reading my piece! I do hope though, that I will eventually earn a paid writing position, either with our local newspaper, regional paper, or even a magazine. Being able to write on a regular basis, and get paid for it would just be amazing and such a blessing!

I have been asking God for a while now, what it is that He wants me to do for His kingdom. I know there is something special that He has in mind for me, but figuring it out has been difficult. We all have special gifts that God has given us to use for His glory and honor. Many people have more than one gift! Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what the gift is and how God wants us to use it.

Well a couple of weeks ago, I really was not thinking anything about writing, or becoming a journalist, but one night as I lay in bed, trying to go to sleep, I realized the reason I was unable to sleep was because God was trying to speak to me. So, I crawled out of the bed and headed to the living room where I just started praying and asking God what it was that He wanted me to know. After a short period of time, I heard a very small, quiet voice telling me “tell the story” and “write”.  I wasn’t sure if I had heard that correctly or not, so I asked God if He was telling me to write and if so, what story was he referring to. I heard again, “write” and “you have to tell the story”. So, I decided that I better figure out what He wanted me to write about and what story He was referring to!

When I signed on to my computer and checked my facebook page, there was post by a very excited grandmother about her grandson winning the state bullriding title, and he lives right here in my hometown. I felt like God was leading me to write this story. So, I made contact with the grandmother and asked if she thought the young man might be interested in giving me an interview. I explained to her that I was brand new to this and that I would basically be practicing with him, and that I had no idea if it would even get published, but she agreed to chck with him. The next morning I received a phone call from the young man’s mother, and an interview was set up! At that moment, I knew this was the direction that God was leading me!

So, now I am searching for other stories, especially positive stories, that somehow relate to my home town. We have some very bad things going on in our town right now and I just feel like God is telling me to bring attention to the good and positive things of this community, and that by doing as He tells me, it could help in the healing and peacemaking process our community needs so badly.

This brings me to a very special request of all of you. I ask you to pray for our community as we go through some very difficult times and we begin the peace making process, may it be successful and the people of this community be closer than ever before, no matter what their differences may be. I also ask that you pray for me; that I am able to find the stories that need to be written, and then write them and get them published. Prayers that through my work/words, someone may decide that Jasper, TX is not such a bad place after all, and with a little work, it can once again be known as “The Jewel of the Forest“. We need forgiveness, peace, harmony, understanding, and tolerance so badly in this community. Please join me in prayer for my home of Jasper, Texas, as our leaders.

My first news story!

I DID IT!!! First published news story!! Well, it doesn’t have my byline, which is really big in the news world, but, it is MY story!! I am really excited! Take a look and see what you all think!

http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/jasper/news/article/Jasper-s-Davis-captures-state-bull-riding-title-3663770.php

 

A New Adventure Begins

Today, I step into a new chapter of my life. Today, I am “trying on” a new career! I am, hopefully, leaping off into the world of journalism!

I have an interview scheduled today with a young man, a local hero of sorts, with hopes of my story being picked up by either the local paper or perhaps a magazine! I have spent the better part of the past two days studying interviewing techniques and suggested question types. I have written out my questions, charged the camera, prepped the mini briefcase with what I will need for the interview, and now I just have to figure out what to wear!

I’m feeling that casual dress is appropriate for this interview and I’ll explain why. This young man is a rodeo champion and I’m sure part of the interview will be done in a pasture, barn, or other part of his parents ranch. I don’t think a dress and heels will work in that setting. Also, we live in a very rural area where “black tie” dress consists of starched jeans, starched western style shirt, and probably not a tie at all! Boots are always worn. Since I don’t own boots, at least none that fit, my shoes will have to be a bit more dressy-casual, but I’m thinking good jeans, and a nice, semi-dressy blouse/shirt, with minimal jewelry.

Maybe I am overthinking some of this, but I really want this to go well. If this interview goes well, and the story turns out good and is actually published, it could mean great things for me! It could mean a dream come true!

So, off I go to choose my outfit for the work portion of my day today! Wish me luck, and as always, prayers would be appreciated!