First Blogiversary!

pexels-photo-203569As of a few weeks ago, it’s been one full year since I started this blog! I need to bake myself a cake!

Over the last 12 months I’ve worked out 60 posts on this space, and it’s shaped up to be such a fun and challenging hobby. Here are some reflections on my blogging journey over the past year.

The Highs

When I started this blog last June, I had three basic goals: to encourage others, to grow as a writer, and to grow in my relationship with God.

With these in view, the biggest highlight from this past year is that by God’s grace, each of those goals has been 100% accomplished!

With the first one, I’ve been grateful for a number of people who have taken the time to tell me that they enjoy the blog or that God used something in a post to challenge or encourage them. While this is always a huge test for my pride (more on that later), I’m really appreciative of their/your encouragement. It’s given me real evidence that God is using these posts in the ways that I hoped He would!

As for becoming a better writer, I can absolutely see growth there. Writing really is like a muscle and exercise = improvement, so getting in the habit of writing regularly has tightened up my writing in several ways. I’ve discovered repeat offenses and quirks in my writing style and am slowly learning to deal with them. I’m getting better at making my posts more concise and focused. I’m becoming more disciplined to push through the pains of laziness and a lack of inspiration to just sit down and write anyway. And I’ve grown more patient with the time it takes to craft a good post.

I’ve also been on an ongoing and slowly improving journey to figure out my “voice” in writing. After mechanically constructing essays in school for so many years and then doing a stint as a grant writer, I tend to automatically switch into a more elevated, academic, and professional tone when I’m writing. This is mostly fine, but I think it often ends up sounding pretentious and lacking in personality. But if I try to just write how I speak in normal life, it sounds like a teenager wrote it (and not a smart teenager). So I’ve been trying to find that balance of good, polished writing but infused with some life and my personality too.

Lastly, this has contributed to growing my relationship with God in many great ways. Building these posts has been a helpful form of meditation on numerous truths that stick with me throughout the week, and the struggles with myself and my pride have driven me to seek grace and humility (most of the time).

My prayer life has gotten exercise through this project as well. I’ve been amazed time and time again by God’s help and goodness in answering my prayers for little things like perseverance to finish a post, a helpful thought that flits into my mind when I’m asking Him for inspiration, or even an extra long nap for my daughter on a day when I want to finish a post. And He’s reminded me to pray for big things like wisdom to only say what is true and helpful, and for Him to use some of what I write to plant gospel seeds.

All this is not to say that I’m now a perfect writer and a perfect Christian. It just means that in big and small ways, God did indeed use this blog in each of these three ways, and that’s pretty satisfying.

The Lows

Before I started this blog, I debated whether or not to do it, not just because of the extra time it would take, but because I know myself and my struggles with pride and self-righteousness, and I know how easily even a blog becomes a way to boost my ego or congratulate myself more than I should.

So after starting this project and doing it for a year, I can confirm that that struggle is still present and that any negatives are all rooted in that one place, my selfish self. In the times when I’m thinking too hard about whether anyone is reading my posts, when I selfishly want more people to be reading my posts, when I get puffed up by someone’s praise, or when I know that I’m not practicing what I preach, it all exposes my pride, selfish ambition, and hypocrisy. Ugly.

But I’m thankful that God has used a hobby that brings these stains to light to also slowly work on them and wash them, bit by bit. What a grace!

What’s Next…and Thank You!!

In short, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing! I think the one post a week schedule is working well – doable yet still challenging, and I’m truly enjoying keeping this thing up. I pray that God would continue using my efforts to further the same three goals I mentioned, and I thank Him for the time, the ability, and the drive to write!

Also, thank YOU for following along! I don’t need a big number of readers to deem this venture successful, but I do need/want more than zero! So thanks for stopping by this blog, and as always, I welcome any comments or critique on anything I write!

P.S. The Highlight Reel

For a number of reasons, the limited WordPress (free account) stats don’t present a very complete picture of a blog’s actual traffic. But I’ve deliberately chosen not to add any advanced analytics onto my site since the temptation to obsess over numbers is just too great for me.

So who knows how accurate this is, but just for fun, here are the five posts with the most views according to my WordPress stats from this past year. It’s a fun mix of topics!

  1. My Adoption Story
  2. Eight Years, Eight Lessons (marriage)
  3. Mama Doesn’t Always Know Best (parenting)
  4. About a New Job and a Trip to the Sequoias (life update)
  5. 2016 Books and Movies Post

 

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