David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the month “October, 2014”

100 Blog Posts and the Art of Self-Discipline (2014-10-21 Daily)

Yesterday I spent some time with Chad Michaelis, owner of Vertex Electronics, troubleshooting one of his newest commercial products. After successfully resolving the issue, we decompressed a bit and chatted about the prospect of increasing my hours at Vertex, an opportunity that’s both exciting and nerve-wracking as I’m very protective of my writing time. As we talked, the conversation swung toward the challenges of owning a business. Leaning back in his chair, Chad folded his hands behind his head and looked up at the ceiling. “I’m convinced that the majority of businesses fail because of lack of discipline,” he said.

I nodded. “After I was let go from my job last year,” I told him, “I still get up at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning, walk the dogs, then go to work. I need that discipline to keep me focused or I wouldn’t get anything done.” For me, organization and self-discipline are second nature, but even so, I’ve found that working from home sometimes takes monumental effort to stay focused and remain on track. Spending hour after hour in my office with my plans on one hand and reality (aka, family life) on the other has managed to crumple my inflexibility and polish my forbearance. But it’s still dang hard! And amazingly rewarding.

A couple weeks ago I posted my 100th blog post, two months after reaching my blissful one-year anniversary with WordPress. In these past 14 months I’ve cranked out and published about 100,000 words on the blog alone—that’s two modern books, or about 1/6th of War and Peace.  That’s self-discipline.  My good friend, Robyn Conley, is a writer, book doctor, and speaker (http://robynconley.com). Before each speaking session, she passes around a small box filled with an assortment of buttons. After each of the participants takes a button, Robyn explains the symbolism: It’s a reminder to keep your “butt on” the chair. Because, for a writer, the button position is the most important position to assume and the most imperative to maintain.

At the moment I have no set writing schedule, just a goal to post at least once a week and to make progress on the six book projects plus the school curricula I’m juggling at the same time. Flexibility has never been my forte, but I’ve found over the years that I actually prefer the freedom to write “organically” as opposed to sticking to a rigid outline and schedule; it keeps my muse much happier. And if my muse is happy, I’m happy. But with greater freedom comes much greater responsibility; no situation will test you more than being turned loose to make a living under your own auspices. It’s sporty but oh so exhilarating. As Chad Michaelis told me yesterday, “No one’s writing me a paycheck.” Our lives are what we make of them, and this writing thing suits me just fine even when the inner engineer wants to do the math on everything, especially the checkbook balance. So I write, I post, I turn the crank with diligence and fearlessness.

Practically every day I plant my butt on the chair and either tap away at the keyboard or write longhand in my journal. Some days I work on a blog post, other days I design power supplies or oscillator circuits, yet other days I sit down with my wife to plan book signings. I’m getting ‘er done. Why do I subject myself to this self-imposed, beautiful torture? As I’ve said before, it’s what I do. It’s what God created me for and I honor and glorify Him by walking obediently in my calling. I choose to write. I have to write! And 100 blog posts and two published books later, I’ve found that I write “despite.” Despite the mornings I’m wrapped in apathy and discouragement, despite the days my muse decides to sleep in and not show up for work, despite the weeks nothing I’ve set out to do gets done. With purpose and determination, it happens.

I’ve managed to generate and upload 100 blog posts with the hope and prayer that something I’ve written will touch someone’s life for the better. Like yesterday, when our dear friend Bridget Brooks posted the following on Facebook, regarding The Epiphany of Joy: “‘I know this will be a lifelong adventure, a continuous education, and a reminder that Joy is a gift planted in me by the Spirit of God. I need to remember to unwrap that gift and receive it daily in my heart.’ – David C. Hughes. I’m just getting started and already know what a blessing this book will be!!!! Thank you for your obedience.” Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,” the Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV®). This is a verse Mary and I quote to Hannah when she tells us she’s scared of something, but how often I’ve whispered this scripture to myself, reminding myself that, first and foremost, the Spirit of God empowers us to walk in our callings with self-discipline.

I left Chad Michaelis’ office last night with a renewed sense of destiny as I remembered God’s faithfulness and all the “coincidences” I’ve experienced in my relationship with him, his family, and with his company. God created this opportunity to work for Chad as a demonstration of His continuous provision, confirmation I’m walking in my giftedness. By faith I continue to step out despite the fear of failure. In love I accept the challenge, knowing God will guide my every step. By the Spirit we are all empowered, and by self-discipline we all proceed. As the Apostle Paul reminded us in his letter to the Romans: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31, 37 NIV®).

Now to conquer the next electronic design challenge. And the next 100 blog posts!


 (NOTE: Starting next week I plan to post a six-part series on motivation for writers. Until then, many blessings!)

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes


Training Up a Child (2014-10-15 Daily)

Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it.

—Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)


I sit at the breakfast table and glance at today’s Lesson Plan, Hannah’s future laid out block-by-block, printed in my wife’s handwriting, clear and concise, like my seven-year-old’s resolve. Sunshine pours through the glass, smudged with the evidence of long-fossilized window clings of holidays past, and splashes across the table. Like my first cup of coffee, its warmth awakens my purpose and straightens my demeanor. With no hesitation I relinquish my own plans for the day and prepare to execute a higher calling. After all, Mary and I are, indeed, Hannah’s teachers. Today it’s my turn to march forth with my head held high and lead homeschool.

Hannah sits in the craft room, waiting, whistling, passing the moment pitch perfect and wide awake. She’s still dressed in pajamas, still enveloped in after-sleep happiness, still wearing a childishness that’s beginning to fray around the edges like a much-loved nursery blanket. Oh yeah, she’s still got me wrapped around her little finger—and her ring finger, and her middle finger and her index finger. And, alas, even her thumb. On both hands. It’s good to be a dad.

Her face turns toward me as I walk into the formal-dining-room-turned-classroom. Her brown eyes smile, her lips follow suit. I breathe in, I breathe out, I sit down. I did this. We did this, Mary and I. We made this seven-year-old, God’s daughter, our child—brilliant, high-spirited, scary smart, our responsibility—with gladness. I look at her, this exquisite young lady with her Daddy’s looks and her Mama’s attitude, this sprig of a child, four foot tall and thirty-seven pounds, this living joy wearing her emotions on her sleeve and her assertiveness on the tip of her tongue … I look at her and fall in love all over again and ask myself if I’m really, truly doing a good job as a dad. One look and I know the answer, despite my shortcomings.

“Drawing today, Daddy?” she asks, voice drenched in sweetness, eyes radiating hope.

“Drawing,” I agree. Her smile spreads even further and crosses into my heart, demonstrating joy without a word, defining love without a doubt. I suggest copying cartoons today and she asks which one. I conjure up the internet and copy, print and lay before her the brilliance of Charles Schulz. Of all the characters I set before her, she chooses to copy Lucille van Pelt. Yep, Lucy. I pick Snoopy because he’s perched on the ridge of his doghouse roof with a typewriter at his feet and a paw resting on his chin. He’s looking up into the sky. Thinking. Creating. Reflecting. Yes, Snoopy it is.

We scribble for an hour, first Peanuts then on to Garfield, Jim Davis’ lasagna-eating cat. We draw with tongues sticking out, two perfectionists struggling to turn fun into work, but the point of this time together reasserts itself as we snicker over a spider getting the best of the fat orange tabby. “National Stupid Day,” Hannah says, giggling. “Dad, the spiders are celebrating National Stupid Day.” Sounds like a great reason to have a party.

Science and Math, History and Geography soon call to my practical side, so we put away the pencils and markers, hang up our masterpieces from the art line draped across the wall, and open Language Arts, Unit 2. I read, Hannah listens, and I turn her loose so can I finish up in the bathroom. Five blessed minutes of silence drift past before the door bursts open without a knock.

“Dad, this was too easy,” she declares. She stands in front of me holding her workbook open to a word search game that offered no challenge except, I suspect, to the improvement of her eye rolling skills. “See, all the words are in a line.” No vertical, no diagonal, no backwards. Nope, all the words lay on each other like a stack of orthographic pencils.

I set my cell phone down on my lap. “Good job,” I say. “Go ahead and work on the next section.” She gleefully leaves, I gleefully return to cleaning up email on my iPhone. One of our dogs gleefully traipses through the open door and greets me with a quick sniff.

Hannah finishes her unit, moves on to the next. As I rejoin her and begin to review her work, my critical eye starts picking off misspelled words and incomplete sentences strewn across the pages of the Language Arts and Science modules. One-by-one I blast each mistake with double-barreled attitude, and one-by-one Hannah corrects them with mounting frustration. Inch-by-inch “dud” becomes “bud,” “dasedall” becomes “baseball,” giggling becomes silence becomes arguing becomes no fun. I sit at the craft room table and glance at my watch. I capitulate to tension and declare “good enough.” And it is. Better, in fact, despite my impatience.

What a blessed man I am, I reflect as I drive Hannah to gymnastics, playing the animal game, getting beat yet again. What a blessed man I am, I ponder as I drive home after dropping off my amazing child, grateful God chose Mary and I to steward His daughter in this big, scary, sometimes overwhelming world. What a blessed man I am, I consider as I recall the wisdom of Psalm 22:6, to train up my child in the way she should go so she won’t depart from it when she gets old.

As I walk into the house and close the garage door, I push aside the to-do’s gnawing my heels, sit down at my desk, and allow myself this moment to ruminate at the keyboard. God placed in my hands the honor and the responsibility to train up my child in the way she should go. And I am. God placed in my hands the privilege to pour out my knowledge and the obligation to correct my own flaws and prevent them, as best I can, from passing on to her. And I do. God placed in my hands the privilege of raising up a warrior, a daughter of the Most High God, a princess, a fighter, an ambassador. And, by God, I will. I am old, and I have not departed from it. And when she is old, neither will she.


Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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