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4 Things I Didn’t Know When I Began Blogging

Eight years ago I linked arms with other word-lovers and began blogging. {I shared a snippet of how the journey began in this post.}

Today, however, I’m sharing four unexpected things I’ve learned since I began blogging:

How Long Does It Take to Write a Blog Post?

The Time Required

Some of you blow me away with the speed in which you create a post. I stand in awe. I can count on one hand how often I’ve whipped up a post in less than an hour…or two. I usually don’t write it all in one sitting. My perfectionistic tendencies tend to hit the draft button multiple times, unfortunately. Suffice it to say, what I thought would be a quick way to express my thoughts has evolved into a love affair with the mingling of life and words. I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

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There Are Clever and Creative Ways to Cut Prep Post Time

I wish I’d known this when I began blogging in 2008. Of course, I didn’t know social media whiz Edie Melson back then either. Today there’s a plethora of information waiting to be leveraged, some of which I’ll share at the end of this post. I’m trying to cut my prep time by setting a timer and rebuffing the bully within when it tells me everything must be perfect for it to be meaningful.

 

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We Must Embrace the Learning Curves

My insecurities can sometimes send me scurrying like a squirrel trying to dodge headlights but gradually they’re disappearing, one by one. I’m learning how to operate my new camera, how to manipulate images, and create memes, among other things. All this, while spiffing up my SEO skills, has given me creative whiplash. But hugging these curves have helped me progress along this spectacular blogging journey!

 

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Some of My Sweetest Friendships are Forged through Blogging

I knew when I began attending my local writer’s group (Cross N’ Pens) that my circle of friends had eternally shifted upwards but I wasn’t prepared for the friendships developed through blogging. Although miles divide most of us, the distance is shortened when we support and encourage each other through social media. The eternal circle continues to widen, grow, and deepen. And for this one fact alone I will always be grateful for the blogosphere.

What’s one unexpected thing you’ve learned since beginning your blogging journey? Please share in the comment section.

Additional Resources:
The Write Conversation
Fistbump Media (They switched my blog from Blogger to WordPress and continue as my support – amazing group!)

 

Cultivating Creativity // Reflecting His Image

canstockphoto5408658Notice anything different? Hope so! I’ve made some changes to this place I’ve called home since 2008.

Back then, I began blogging at the prompting of Rich Butler, a friend, and fellow co-staffer at the time. Each week as a church staff we came together to design, if you will, our weekly services. It was my favorite hour of the week. To experience God bringing to life those creative ideas for His glory felt much like Eric Liddell must have felt when he said:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Bringing creative elements into the telling of the Gospel has always felt natural to me. After all, the Bible is crammed full of examples of how God uses our senses to reveal more of Himself to us.

  • Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the LORD is good!
  • Proverbs 20:12 – The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, God has made them both.
  • Matthew 8:3 – And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
  • Genesis 8:21 – And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

There are numerous accounts in the Gospel of Jesus using tangible “takeaways” when He taught. He was the Master of metaphors and multi-sensory teaching. The Tabernacle, Passover, The Lord’s Supper…the list goes on. Jesus knew the power of our senses {as our Creator} and He harnessed them all for the Father’s glory. And this is my desire as well.

You see, earlier this year, I sensed God nudging me to become more intentional with this little corner of mine. I prayed, I watched, and I expected. I soon realized that since becoming a student of the Word years ago, I’ve gravitated towards adding a creative element to the studies I lead, to the gifts I give, and often to the gatherings I create. That was it!

I could learn and share how to cultivate creativity in every day life, reflecting more and more of His image in the process.

From there, Fistbump Media {Dan King and Susan Stilwell} hopped on board, using their own creative gifts and talents to make this site feel more like home — a place where we can come together as a community of believers, bloggers, and whomever else God decides to bring.

My hope is that you will find this to be a place of encouragement and inspiration as we seek to cultivate creativity through our home and families, writing, meaningful gatherings, and our stories of faith…all to the glory of our Creator and King.

For a more detailed look at the “why” behind this intentional move towards creativity, visit my About Page here, or click the tab at the top of the page.

Beginning next week, I’ll post once a week and believe me when I say…you don’t want to miss next week. God revealed Himself in a subtle but meaningful way a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to share. Until then, thank you for stopping by today. I don’t take you or your time for granted. You are a blessing!

If you like what you’re reading, you can subscribe today in the right-hand margin. My weekly posts will be delivered to your inbox. Also, feel free to share with a friend! Thank you. 🙂

Suggested Reading:
Desiring God {John Piper’s site}, Make God Look Great. Create.
Stephen Altrogge’s e-book, Create. Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff

3 Reasons Why I Switched My Blog From Blogger to WordPress

Change: It's A Good ThingI’m no expert when it comes to blog hosting sites or knowing all the technical details that goes along with the process. (Just ask Dan King @ Fistbump Media, the most patient man on earth.) I did, however, know that it was finally time to make the change to WordPress.

Here are just a few reasons I decided to make the switch:

  • Self-hosting WordPress offers more ownership. Google has the right to shut down your blog without notice, although I’ve never known that to happen to anyone I know. With self-hosting WordPress (.org) bloggers pay for their hosting services. This brings in accountability, and though there is a small cost involved, I know I’m paying for my own space in the blogosphere.
  • Wordpress logoBetter SEO Capabilities. I’m still learning about the power of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but the simple addition of Yoast has helped me to visually see where I need to improve my title, images, and content for improved optimization. A sidebar button that resembles a traffic light moves from red to green as I type, letting me know the specific ways I’m increasing my SEO. Talk about immediate gratification!
  • There is no support at Blogger. Period. Got a question? You either have to figure it out for yourself, visit a Help Site, or know a Blogger guru. Seriously. Since making the switch, Fistbump Media has offered stellar service with Dan King and Susan Stilwell promptly addressing any technical issues in a very timely manner.

With Blogger, I had major issues (of my own doing) with Feedburner that were never resolved. It’s for this reason I chose to leave Feedburner, along with the mess, and start over with a new subscriber system (MailChimp) in WordPress, which is a very scary thing to do. I basically had to start over with 0 subscribers. Thanks to those of you who have already re-subscribed. If you’ve not yet done so, please take a moment to fill out the form in the right hand column. I appreciate it so much! It’s an honor to lock arms with you, moving forward in all God has in store for us.

Maybe you’re like me. Your heart beats for community, for uniting bloggers and readers for God’s ultimate glory. To this end, if you have a blog/site, I’d love for you to share your blog/web address in the comment section. If you’re a reader, I’d love to hear from you too! Is there anyway I can pray for you today?

{If you’d like to register a domain, learn more about Fistbump, or check out their latest tweets, you can view all this and more at Fistbump Media or click the Fistbump Media button located in my right-hand sidebar.}

Reference: One of my favorite sites, Gina Alyse, shares why she switched from Blogger to WordPress.

Susan Stilwell: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

Welcome to the first Saturday of the month when we join a fellow follower on the bench of life to learn from their experience.

Today, I’m delighted to introduce Susan Stilwell to you.

Susan and I actually “met” via Vonda Skelton’s site in the comment section. {Who says leaving comments isn’t beneficial?} In our case, we became eternal friends and I thank God for her often. Since our initial meeting on Vonda’s site, we’ve had the opportunity to meet at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. It feels like a family reunion every time I see her sweet smile! And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a Hokie friend. 🙂

Susan is a prayer warrior to the very core of her being and much wisdom flows from her as a result.

Please
remember, these glimpses of quiet times are shared to simply show that our quiet times can look very different. My heart is to invite
you into the freedom that awaits when we meet with our heavenly Father
{Thank You, Jesus!} in a variety of ways.

So, welcome, Susan.

If we were to join you during your time with God, what might we observe? 
 

I’ve always been an early riser, so I look forward to my
one-on-one times with the Lord around 5:45 A.M. I love those quiet dark moments
when I have the fewest distractions. I have a cozy stuffed chair in my office
and snuggle in with a creamy cup of hot coffee.

I start by praying the Lord’s Prayer, and then I read from a
devotional guide. I also try to review any text I’m teaching, and I journal
thoughts from those two sources. I keep a list of prayer requests, and I close
by praying a collection of scripture verses I’ve memorized over the years. 

Other than the Bible, what is your one go-to “tool” you
use during your time with the Lord?
I can’t pick a single go-to resource, so let’s call it a
tie: my journal, which is actually a day planner, and a good devotional book.

 

Andrew Murray’s, Humility

I lean toward classic writers like Spurgeon, Chambers, and
Andrew Murray. A.W. Tozer is a favorite contemporary writer, although he’s not
so contemporary compared to the others! A short devotional that slays me every
time I read it is Murray’s Humility.
I try to read it at least once a year. 

Is there a particular experience you’ve had during your one-on-one time with God that you would like to share?

I consider every day to be a unique experience with the
Lord! For Yahweh—the all-sufficient, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-wise
Creator and Sustainer of the universe—to condescend to me—an all-needy, all-dopey, all-failing spec of nothingness? I’m
awestruck by that every single day of my life. (Can you tell I’m reading Humility this month?) 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your
one-on-one time with the Lord?
I do my best to be consistent, but I also allow myself to
bathe in grace on the days I get sidetracked. I strive for authenticity and
fluidness with my devotional times. I don’t ever want it to be a checklist
item, which is an easy trap for Type-A personalities like me. God forbid I
become a Pharisee who honors Him with my lips but my heart is far from Him. 

Two closing thoughts:

 

  • Don’t do what I do! Not only are we are fearfully and wonderfully
    made, but we’re also unique. Sit in His presence, bask in His word and let Him
    direct your intimate times.

 

  • A devotional time is an excellent discipline, but it’s
    not what sustains me throughout the day. I’ve developed a habit of spending “simple
    seconds” with Him as often as possible. I turn my attention away from my
    activities and acknowledge that the God of the universe is present with me. I
    thank Him for the privilege of living for Him and ask Him to empower me for
    whatever is ahead. I hope it blesses Him because it certainly blesses me. 

Thank you, Susan. The one truth that stood out to me the most? How, every time we sit in the presence of a holy God we are having a unique experience. Amen! As we approach Easter, it’s yet another reminder of the costly sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, ushering in the very possibility of having a relationship with our heavenly Father. 

Is there a particular thing that Susan shared today that stands out to you? Please share in the comment section. 


 Susan Stilwell consults, writes and speaks on a
variety of topics. Her clients appreciate her technical expertise and attention
to detail on their websites, projects, and social media strategies. Technical
“how-tos” are Susan’s favorite articles. You can find her working as a blog
designer and contributing writer at Fistbump Media.

Susan also serves as a hospital chaplain
associate and is a voracious scripture memorizer. She’s a conference speaker
and passionate expositor of God’s Word, and she’s active on TwitterFacebook,
and SusanStilwell.com.

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