December 20, 2013

The Cup Speaketh

By Carol G. Stratton 

I held my Carmel latte in my right hand, savoring a few sips of creamy goodness before I practiced my speech. I had only one day left until I hopped onto an airplane to a writer’s conference and my first opportunity to teach in front of other writers. This talk had to be perfect.

Turning the cup around, I glanced at a saying about aging. Hmmm, not particularly encouraging. Sounds like some old curmudgeon wrote this one. I brought the cup closer to my eyes to see who had authored the quote, and nearly spilled the entire contents on myself from shock.  The writer’s name dredged up from my mind’s basement brought back an ugly memory from college.

Being the idealistic new Christian, I started college with hopes and dreams of communicating my faith in every way possible. As a person with way too many words to keep to herself, I decided I’d be an English major. I loved reading and discussing books. And writing…well, it had always been a great outlet for my creativity. As a sixth grader, having an essay posted in our local newspaper’s “Youth Said It” column, I caught the bug to put my words down on paper. Becoming an English major and teaching high school students how to connect the dots between their brain and the paper excited me. I dove into my classes with gusto. The classes challenged me but I kept up with the workload.

About a year into my major, I took a class from the head of the English department. I wouldn’t say faculty thought of this man as a god, but a professor who had a Pulitzer Prize in poetry didn’t lack for a fan club on campus.

I started peeling off my essays for his class, naively proud of how eloquent I could express myself on paper. To my chagrin, Professor Pulitzer returned my papers with red marks that resembled a road map to failure. He penned little personal notes like, “I think you might reconsider your course of study,” or “Are you sure you want to be an English major?”  The comments, written in scarlet pen, whittled away my self-confidence. At the end of the semester, I caved in and sought another major. Chalk up one for the Enemy.

It took me years to gather up enough confidence to write again. Finally in my forties I started to attend writing conferences that helped me turn my passion into paid published articles and with that a speaking opportunity at a writers’ conference.

Back in my office, I deposited the white and green cup onto my desk and marveled how God had used my favorite latte to remind me of truth. Down into my spirit I heard a whisper: “You once listened to man. Now listen to Me.”

I once allowed a professor to hijack my dream. But God used a humble white and green paper cup to remind me not to listen to an expert for my life plan. Listen to The Expert.
Carol G. Stratton relates moving as having a large spatula scoop up your life and flip it against a wall. As a wife and mother to four children she has become a reluctant expert as she's moved twenty-two with her family. She has a passion to help families move as she reminds them they will have a life and community at the other end. God is with them at each new address. A freelance writer for eleven years, she speaks to women's groups such as MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and at national writers' conferences. She is the author of Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You're Transplanted (Volume 1).

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