writing for children

Goldfish and mirrors

This weekend I had the distinct joy of joining my 12 year old for her confirmation weekend at Lake Junaluska. There were tons of boys (which she told me about the whole time) and even more opportunities to hear the voice of God for the 400 youth that were there.

My daughter and four other church youth were attentive and seemed to really hear what was being said. One of the workshop leader’s words really stuck with all of us.

The speaker shared the common belief that goldfish have a memory span of 3 seconds. If you are a lover of goldfish or a goldfish scientist, the accuracy of that statement is probably debated in your circle of friends. BUT – 3 seconds of memory or 3 months – the outcome is the same. The goldfish doesn’t/can’t remember things very long. The speaker went on the challenge the kids to hold tight to things the Lord was speaking to them over the weekend.

She said, “Don’t be a goldfish.”


We can find the same challenge in the book of James. Pay special attention to verses 22-24.

19-21Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

 22-24Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

 25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

I’m constantly amazed at the patience of God. He has to tell us the same thing over and over and over and…well, you get the idea. We see and hear God’s love for us, his instructions and directions…then too often we turn into goldfish. We swim around and around and around… never going anywhere but in a circle.

This is how a week might go with me and God:

Me — “Hi God. It’s me, Donna. I’m in need of some help this week.”

God — “I’m glad you asked. I know exactly what you need. You need to be gentle, kind and loving in your responses this week. You need to turn from your self-centeredness. I will fill your mouth and heart. All you have to do is obey.”

me — “Okay God. Got it. I understand. But um…”

God — “Good. Just remember… obey.”

Me — “Obey, got it. But um… I was hoping you were going to help me clean my house.” 

God — “Yes, and I’ve given you the feet, hands and ability to get that done. Prayer answered.”

Me — “Oh, okay. I was hoping you’d just sweep your hand over the house and well, you know…”

God — “Donna, focus. Remember what I told you I would do for you this week. I’m looking forward to working in you!”

me — “Um, Abba?”

God — “Yes, dear one?”

me — “What are you talking about?”

God — “I already know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask anyway. Were you paying attention? Do you remember the one thing I told you to do this week?”

me — “I was paying attention! I was. Honest. Um, well, I just forgot what you told me to remember.”



I’m going to practice remembering this week. I’m going to practice paying attention to what God is doing in my life. I’m going to practice obedience for longer than a few seconds.

In other words, I’m going to practice NOT being a goldfish.

Have you had forgotten what the Lord has been speaking to you lately? If so, I pray that your coming week will be filled with obedience, grace…and FREE from goldfish moments.


17 thoughts on “Goldfish and mirrors

    1. Linda – heehee! You are funny. I’m glad you liked the post. I am still laughing about everything that happened this past weekend. There is soooo much more to the story and I hope to share it one day! 🙂


  1. You crack me up, Donna. It reminds me of my arguments with God, except it was completely one-sided with me ranting the whole time. I had to literally shut up so that I could listen …

    I’ll try not to be a goldfish 🙂


  2. Donna, that’s wonderful that you got to enjoy such a special weekend with your daughter. I have to admit there are times I let the lessons God teaches me kind of slip out of my grasp. Some things I just seem to need to relearn all the time… So glad He is patient with me and always full of grace.


  3. Donna,

    Sorry for leaving this in the comments section…I would send a personal e-mail, but don’t see one??

    I just read your article in P31 Woman about deleting your FB profile. Just this morning the thought crossed my mind about doing the same thing, and then I read your article. I don’t take those things as coincidence, so I thought I’d write you to discuss this. 🙂

    I love FB, and in many ways, it’s the only way I connect with a few long distance people, namely a few of my siblings. Also, my 11-year-old just got a FB page and I’m highly monitoring her.

    But my other primary concern is that I’m trying to get a book published. All the publishers love my writing and my book idea (yay!). But they also say I need to grow my platform significantly. I see FB as a vital part of growing my platform, I guess. I can post a link to my blog and have 50 friends show up immediately. But because I’m raising small children, I can’t take off on the weekend to speak at a conference.

    Clearly, I would rather spend time in face-to-face relationships, instead of FB. But spending a half hour here or there every day to gain some name recognition seems like time well spent. On the other hand, I’m about to lose my mind with all I have going on this spring and wonder if FB is making that much of a difference in my over all platform.

    Since you are a writer, I’m just wondering what you think about how vital FB is to building a writing platform.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this amidst your many responsibilities. Like laundry. Which I am off to do. Or a nap, which sounds more inviting right now.



    1. Hi Sandy! I’m glad to answer this question here, but I’ll shoot you an email, too.

      Let me preface my answer by clarifying that this is MY opinion ONLY. I might be the only one who feels this way and I welcome feedback from other writers. That being said, here goes…

      I do NOT think FB is vital in buidling a writing platform. I think it can be useful. But I don’t think it is necessary. If you have a website/blog and a Twitter account, you are good to go even you do NOT have an fb account. And Twitter, in my humble opinion, is a better marketing tool than FB.

      I know a lot of folks who use FB solely for staying in touch with old friends. They do NOT mix business and friendships on there. I know tons of others who use it only for business. But they do NOT mix business and friendship, either.

      The thing about using FB as a marketing tool is this – you have to be careful not to wear out your welcome. If all you do is advertise and push your product, you will soon be on the other folks’ “hidden posts” list. To be fair, the same is true for twitter, too.

      For me, facebook has too many distractions. Other writers find it extremely helpful. Here are some threads from Verla Kay’s message board discussing this very thing —




      And this is a fab resource, too — http://community.livejournal.com/bubblestampede scroll down to “online presence” and see what they have to say about connecting with an audience via facebook, twitter, etc. http://community.livejournal.com/bubblestampede/5852.html

      If your fans want to create a page for you or want to promote you on FB, that is a different story. If folks love your work and start spreading the word via FB, then YAY! But if you promote, promote, promote via fb and never see any real fruits from it, then I’m not so sure that is the avenue to take. It’s probably more of a trial and error type of thing with writers. It works for some and not so much for others.

      I’ve had FAR more hits to my blog since switching to twitter than I did when on fb. I am working towards book publication, also, but mine are for younger children.

      Did that help at all? Anyone else have opinions about using Facebook as an effective marketing tool?


      1. Donna,
        Thank you so much. Yes, that helps tremendously. I will read those links you posted. I’m trying to gather info on the subject, because I do want to build my platform, but I want to do it in a professional, non-annoying (is that a word?) way. I have friends who have created their own “Fan Pages” and I’m not sure what I think about that.

        I totally agree about being careful not to spend all my time promoting myself. That’s why FB becomes a time-sucker for me. I try to hop around and comment on other people’s statuses and pictures. I realize it’s about building community and relationships, not just promoting my blog.

        I don’t have a twitter account and I’m reluctant to get one. I just can’t see spending one more minute on social networking. I barely have time to visit blogs and repsond to those who comment on mine. And those are things I find vital to my ministry.


        Anyway, thanks soooooo very much for your input. It was extremely helpful. Sometimes I just need to process it all with another writer. Thanks for being that writer today.

        I would also love to hear from others on the subject.


  4. Hi Donna,
    You and I must be on the same page these days. Goldfish and inchworms…we have so much to learn!

    I just love how God loves us and speaks to us in the midst of the mundane! He alone can do that.

    I’m going to try not to be like the goldfish and remember the lessons I learned from the inchworm! 🙂
    Eternally His,
    Phil 3:7-14


  5. Sandy – check out Verla Kay’s board. Lots of great info there. Let me know if you decide to get a Twitter account!

    Stephanie – thanks for stopping by. God certainly knows how to grab our attention! 🙂

    Jean – it really was a fabulous weekend. We won’t forget it! 🙂


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