Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Dipping the Quill Deeper: “Be a Fish”

by Eva Marie Everson

I took French in “middle school,” as we called it. “Junior high,” it is now called. My teacher was a wonderfully funny and creative man named Jack Griffin. If I’m not mistaken, he is the first teacher my classmates and I ever called by a first name. Never in class, of course. In class he was “Mr. Griffin,” but outside of class we called him “Jack.” Even in his presence.

Jack made learning French fun. When we got our lessons right—or when we got them wrong—he’d put on his best Jack Benny face and, slapping his hand against his cheek, exclaim, “Mon Dieu!” And, we were left to determine whether he had praised or condemned our efforts. 

I did well in French. Mr. Griffin—Jack—said I had the accent for it. And, after all that year’s book-learning, I managed to hold on to enough French to converse in the basics. I can say things like hello, goodbye, thank you very much, and how are you . . . with enough je ne sais quoi that, while dining at some little French bistro at Epcot a few years back, I replied with a “merci beaucoup,” to a waiter who began conversing with me at rapid speed. I understood not a word.

Five years ago, my husband and I moved to a new house in a new neighborhood. You’d think we now lived in the middle of the United Nations. Russians, Japanese, Hispanics, French, Kuwaitis, Filipino, and both Southern and Northern Americans make up the population of this cul-de-sac. After getting to know the neighbors, I decided to revisit my French lessons so as to have some fun conversations with the family from France who lived two doors down. 

All this came about at the same time as I was attempting to complete another theological degree. And write a book. Or two. And run Word Weavers. And direct Florida Christian Writers Conference and (in those days) the North Georgia Christian Writers Conference. And work as a freelance editor. And be a wife. A mother. A grandmother. A homemaker. A doctor-a lawyer-an Indian chief. My life spun out of control and came to a crashing halt when I received the call in May 2019 that my brother was dying. I dropped everything to care for him.

I stopped with the French lessons. I dropped out of school. I put one book aside for a later date and, after my brother’s death, picked up the other one, finishing it (Dust) a year later. Thanks to the pandemic shortly thereafter, we folded the North Georgia conference. I streamlined Word Weavers even more than it had been previously. I became pickier about the projects I took on as a freelance editor. Slowly . . . slowly . . . my life returned to what God called me to versus all the things I wanted to do. 

In his book, Prayer, Simon Tugwell wrote: St. Ambrose gave his congregation some very good advice. Using the old Christian symbol, he compared them in this stormy world to fish swimming in the sea. And to them too he said: “Be a fish.” We must learn how not to be swamped by the situations that we find ourselves in. We must learn how to get through them with a minimum of damage, and a maximum of profit. 

I find myself looking at life a little differently these days. I have given notice to this Type-A personality of mine. I cannot do what God has called me to do—walking closer with Him, leading Word Weavers (which includes the Florida conference), writing for Him, and (above all) being a part of my family—if I’m trying to accomplish too many “other things.” 

Nor can you. I don’t know why it surprises me, the things we try to squeeze into a day. And then we wonder why we come out on the other side having done things halfway. Or, not at all. Feeling tired. We’re left wondering where we fit in it all. We’re depressed. Angry. Frustrated. We begrudge the call.

Well, no wonder. We allow ourselves to get swamped by life so much so that when “situations” come along, we come undone. 

So, I encourage you now. Today. Look at your life. What can go? What should stay? What has He called you to? What did you call yourself to? 

Be a fish. Comprendre?


Eva Marie Everson is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of its two conferences. She is the multiple award-winning author of nearly 40 works and has received awards as a speaker and Bible teacher. Eva Marie is often seen at writers conferences across the States. She served as a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild for several years, and taught as a guest professor at Taylor University in 2011. She and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they enjoy their grandchildren. They are owned by one small dog and a princess cat.


  1. En effet, je comprends parfaitment mon amie. :-)

  2. Great, great reminder. I will be a fish! (I hope I’m a colorful one!)

  3. Your post resonates with me. Just yesterday I felt overwhelmed while transcribing a magazine interview with a girl who talked at warp speed and didn't enunciate very clearly. After struggling with it, I asked the editor to be excused from this particular writing assignment. He understood and said yes. What a relief I felt! It was as though a load fell off my back.

  4. It's certainly not earth-shaking, but the HS has been telling me to stop baking for a few years now. Every recent effort seems to take extraordinary time and then has come up short. Cooking is fine and bread making is fine, just not Baking. Lol
    It's takes discipline to stop doing things that have been habits for years....working on it. Thanks for the confirmation. :)

    1. Well, if you want to bake one more cake . . . call me. :)

  5. I love this--not only the reminder, but the way you told it!

  6. There is wisdom in your message. Thank you Eva Marie. Hugs.

  7. I am here. Sorting through life…