Choose Your Own Adventure

by Alexa Van Dalsem July 02, 2013

One year ago this week, I started a new job as a university research administrator. This was a big change personally: my previous work as a grant writer for a non-profit provided a very flexible schedule and an outlet and the impetus for writing. Though I was writing grant applications and website copy rather than my preferred fiction, I spent most of my working hours crafting language.

There are many aspects of my new work that I really enjoy, and the stability is an excellent bonus. I have even enjoyed taking a break from the responsibility of grant writing. At the same time, I miss my dedicated time with words and disappearing into the act of crafting language. I struggle now, with a busier schedule, juggling full-time work, three kids, and time with my husband, to find any time for much else. Exercise is sandwiched in at lunch, and I have about half an hour at night to read. I have more desire to sleep, spend time with my kids, be outside and away from my computer than to write. I often wonder where writing can fit into my life.

My kids participated in a church music camp last week, which culminated in a musical performance. The musical, “The Star Factor,” focused on the importance of everyone’s gifts, doing our best with our God-given gifts, and encouraging others in their gifts. Hearing this message, I thought about my children’s gifts, how I can help them enjoy and grow them, and how blessed we are to live in a time and place that allows for the opportunity to discover and use our gifts. I also felt somewhat dispirited about writing so little. I fear that any gains I’ve made in writing will disappear. Am I squandering one of my gifts right now, and should I do anything about it?

A large part of my new position is administration, making the grant application process as smooth as possible for professors while keeping everything in compliance with a long list of policies. I believe that administration is also one of my gifts, though a gift that I tend to undervalue. I’d much rather be known as a writer or grant writer than an administrator. But for some reason, God provided this new position that grows and develops this gift. I can even see a time when my two gifts might meet again, and I can use my administration experience in writing projects.

Last night, my oldest son, Asher, started a new game with me based on the choose-your-own-adventure books he’s been reading. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, he started an oral choose-your-own-adventure with me. He started the story and provided my choices for the adventure. This was not only fun for us, but something that I can do while I’m madly trying to get evening housework done. And it leads me to wonder if there are other ways that I can “write,” even practicing word craft out loud. I so much want to be a “good and faithful servant,” and perhaps there are creative ways that I can work writing into my life. No doubt there’s more than one adventure I can choose.

I wonder what you think. Are there times when some gifts necessarily have to take a small role in our life? Are we called to make changes or find creative ways so that we can better use our gifts? How do you balance faithfully using your gifts?


Alexa Van Dalsem
Alexa Van Dalsem

Author

Alexa Van Dalsem, a grant writer by trade, writes short stories, poetry, a personal blog and, most recently, short movie scripts. In her free time, Alexa enjoys playing with her family and spending time in the great outdoors of her home state, Colorado. Alexa's short story "Black Leather Shoes" was featured in Ruminate's Issue 01: Chewing on Life



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