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Life Punctuated

May 5, 2020

The old joke goes that “Punctuation saves lives;” with the example: “Let’s eat, Grandma!” or "Let’s eat Grandma." And if you are an English Teacher, or Grammarian this is really funny. Most people barely use punctuation these days. But I am a trained English teacher and I love all things literary. So, when I type or text, I always use my punctuation. Hilariously, it has gotten that I use voice to text so often, adding in the punctuation, that recently when leaving voicemails for people I have begun speaking the punctuation in those also. Crazy habit! So, when you get a voicemail from me and I am saying, comma, period, exclamation point –please, just ignore me.

Punctuation in modern times has undergone some changes and expanded in its use. Here are just a few examples.


The semi-colon has come to stand for Suicide Awareness and Prevention. The idea that even though dark days have been experienced there are better days ahead. A semi-colon joins two things that are complete in themselves. One doesn’t discount the other. It stands for the fact that “an author could have chosen to end the sentence, but chose not to.”


My favorite symbol – (😊) and to me it means “and just let me add this thought.” I don’t know how other people use it. Although it has also gained in popularity as symbolizing the “dash” between our birth and death dates. The dash symbolizing the life you have lived. Whole commencement addresses and sermons have been built around “Your Dash.”

I use this in my writing when I want you to just keep on thinking along the same lines of the sentence that precedes it. It is commonly used when you are leaving out a part of a quote, or you want the reader to linger over the last thought.


This sweet symbol, used to convey our excitement is now 0ver-used in the age of Insta, Facebook, et al. But sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. It conveys our excitement when you just can’t use emojis to express yourself. It was perhaps one of the first emojis before we had the smiley face.


The period is experiencing unprecedented use these days. The emphasis of single words followed by a period, creating short staccato sentiments, has popped up every where. I first saw it used by Ann Voscamp in One Thousand Gifts, but now – I. See. It. Every. Where.


Ah – the pound, number, hashtag sign. The surge in this little baby has been paramount. And I don’t have to spell out the enormous weight this symbol is carrying around these days (pun intended). #hashtag #followthis #iammakingapointhere #whateveriwantittobe


Where would the modern world be without this sweet little thing. We could never send another email, or tell people, in short, where we are “at.” (Dangling preposition – I know!)

And lastly – the sweet sentiment that follows here…

. or ,

The famous quote by Gracie Allen to her husband George Burns has been written about thousands of times. “Never place a period where God has placed a comma,” is great theology. We absolutely never know when God is finished with a situation, a person, or a world. Even in death God is still working in lives, in relationships, in circumstances in ways that we cannot fathom. He is the God of Words and symbols. His meaning may sometimes be unclear – but His heart is not. He is always good and always has our good and His glory in mind.

Let’s keep this in mind as we walk forward this week. There have been all kinds of periods and commas, and more in these early months of 2020. The world has been full of doubt, fear and uncertainty. Many lives have been upended, ended, and curtailed. Change is our constant. Let punctuation save your life today. @#!;-… happens. But. We. Will. Make. It.

Flowers & Flames,

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