Changing Direction

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Three months ago I made a commitment to write consistently.

Then I learned to crochet.

It’s a fantastic hobby, and I can argue that it’s useful.  I can make things!  I can sell things!  I can be productive!

But then I remember that God doesn’t ask for productivity.  He asks for obedience.

* * * *

In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t been blogging lately.

It’s not because I haven’t had things to write about, it’s because I’ve been struggling with how to write about things.

It’s my latest avoidance tactic, I suppose.

See, I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist.  When I do something, I like to do it well – and naturally, that extends to blogging.  I haven’t been working since last fall so I’ve had lots of time to read and research, trying to learn what makes a blog “successful”.

There are lots of opinions out there, but most of what I’ve read points to four key ingredients:

  1. Find your voice.
  2. Find your niche.
  3. Write for your audience.
  4. Be consistent.

It seems simple enough.

But then I started to wonder how to measure “success”.   Was I successful when I doubled my traffic?  Tripled it?  When my twitter or instagram followers reached a specific number?  When I started making money from my blog?

The more articles I read, the more overwhelmed I became.  There are so many rules!  It was enough to turn me off blogging for awhile.

Truth be told, it doesn’t take much to turn me off writing for awhile …

We’re busy with renovating.

I’m working again.

I’m tired.

My brain is fried.

I’m out of ideas.

I don’t know where to begin …

* * * *

I’ve been reading the story of Moses in Exodus lately.

“Master, please, I don’t talk well.  I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after You spoke to me …”

God’s response?  “Who do you think made the human mouth?  And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind?  Isn’t it I, God?  So get going.  I’ll be right there with you – with your mouth!  I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”  (Exodus 4:10-12, MSG).

Moses hesitated, begging God to send someone else.

He made excuses, just like I do.

I need to be brave.

* * * *

  1. I’m overwhelmed by the rules of “proper blogging” – so I’m just going to break them.  I’ve spent so much time reading other blogs, trying to uncover their secrets to success, that I lost my voice.  Hence the four month hiatus.  How can I find my voice when my head is full of everybody else’s?
  2. I’ve never been able to pinpoint a real “niche” – and I think that’s okay.  I don’t need a “niche”, I need direction – and I have that now.  Whether or not I have courage is a post for another day!
  3. I’ve never had a huge audience – and I’m okay with that.  Numbers don’t matter.  Jesus only had twelve followers, after all!
  4. I struggle with consistency.  I’m not in a season of life where I can guarantee a new post at a certain time on a specific day of the week – but I’m going to try to drop into this space more regularly!  If I disappear again, feel free to e-mail me.  I need the accountability!

* * * *

As for where to begin –

“Wherever you are is a good and important place.  Start there.”  (Gary Morland)

So I will.

Thanks for sticking with me while my blog changes direction!

Joy in the Ordinary

Today I’m over at A Little Light – an online network for Canadian Christian women – sharing my story about how I find joy in the ordinary.

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Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen while my children played at the table.  I had brought the Christmas boxes in from the storage room and the first thing I unpacked was our nativity scene.  They immediately got to work setting it up, lining up the fences, arranging the animals just so, and moving Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus inside the stable to keep warm.  My two-year-old daughter placed the angel in its spot on the roof of the stable, pressing the button so the sound of joyful music filled the room. 

These are the moments I miss when I am busy.  

And Christmas is a very, very, VERY busy time for my little family …. 

Continue reading here.

12 Days of Love Letter Writing // Day 9

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I love Christmas traditions: baking Christmas cookies, making Christmas crafts, driving around the city to look at all of the Christmas lights.

Now that Topher and Ellie are a little bit older it’s time to include them in a few new Christmas traditions: Delivering baked goods to the neighbours, designing Christmas cards for friends and family, filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child – and taking part in More Love Letters and The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing.

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The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing is exactly what it sounds like: 12 days of scripting love letters for specific recipients, nominated by their love ones, as well as several community requests. The campaign runs from December 7th through December 18th with single letter requests throughout the week with a break over the weekend to rally around a community request. Letter requests for the 12 Days are posted here.

Today we are writing love letters for Kyler.

This is his story:

Kyler has a brilliant mind and a kind heart. He has so much love to give but shows it in different ways than most people realize. His girlfriend writes, “He’s the most curious man I know and I smile every time he lingers just a little longer at the museum exhibits or when he watches YouTube videos or TedTalks just for the pure intent of being more knowledgeable on the subject.” Sadly all this passion for knowledge is being lost in depression. Kyler refuses to admit defeat and though he is a fighter, there is only so much he can do on his own. Help us encourage Kyler to keep fighting and show him that doesn’t have to go through life alone.

Send your letter to: 

Kyler’s bundle, ℅ Lindsey G., 13721 Biola Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638 USA

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{Get tips on love letter writing // Learn more about joining the campaign}

If you have a few minutes today, please join me in writing a love letter for Kyler!   After you write your letter feel free to snap a photo of it and tweet it to More Love Letters @moreloveletters, or tag them on Instagram @moreloveletters so they can spread the word throughout the day!

It’s never too late to get involved.  Your letter WILL make a difference!

On Being Brave

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The photo above popped up on a friend’s Facebook feed earlier this week and the words have been stuck in my head ever since.

I haven’t been writing much lately.  

I blame work.  I want to write – I love to write! – but it’s so much easier to push the job I love (that earns me pennies) to the side to concentrate on the job that earns me a living.

I blame my to-do list.  I can’t stand a messy house so instead of using Topher’s hour of Quiet Time to write, I spend it cleaning the kitchen, scrubbing the floor, or purging the hall closet.

Sometimes I even blame the kids.  On the rare occasion that I actually have an evening off, I’m too tired.  Our days are full and my brain is completely fried by the time I’ve tucked them in for the sixteenth time.  I don’t want to think about anything at that point so I crash on the couch in front of the TV.

I do have to work, I do have to keep my house somewhat tidy, and I love spending time with my kids –

So I can’t blame those things.

The truth of the matter is that I am my own biggest obstacle.

I’m afraid to write.  

I’m afraid to be vulnerable.

I’m afraid to put myself out there.

I’m afraid of criticism and rejection.

I’m afraid of failure …

And I’m afraid of change. 

I’m at the point where I need to get over myself and just jump in.

I need to be braver.

Stronger.

Tougher.

Make sure that the obstacle in your way isn’t you.

The Voice in my Head

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In the past two months I’ve mastered the art of not writing.

First I was sick.  Then the kids were sick, then Nathan was sick, then I was sick again.  (I call it the “Preschool Effect”.)

I’ve been working six days a week since January – the last thing I want to do when I have a rare hour or two to myself is put fingers to keyboard.

But the longer I avoid writing, the harder it is to start again.

I mean well.  I sit down at the computer and even log into WordPress before my mind starts to wander.  The voice in my head begins its incessant chatter:

What’s the point?  

Nobody cares.  

That’s a dumb idea.  

So I open a new tab and scroll through my Facebook feed.  I’ll look at my sister’s pictures, see if Julie got back to me about that playdate, maybe upload a few pictures from Ellie’s birthday so my mom can see them.

I mean well, but the voice in my head is louder than my good intentions.

Look at Hayley!  She was gorgeous in high school, and she looks like a model now – even after she had a baby!

And Lindsay – she has two kids, and she always looks so put together.  

You?  You look frumpy.  You’ve never had any sense of style.  

Delete that picture Mom posted.  Ew!

So I open yet another tab and type Lindsay’s name into the search bar in Pinterest.  I’ll just check her style board, maybe re-pin a few things for inspiration.  I’m sure I can convince Nathan to make some wiggle room in the budget for a few new outfits!

I mean well, but then I hear that pesky voice again.

That won’t look good on you.  

You’re too short.

You have no bum.

You’re as flat as a pancake. 

And who are you to think you can ask Nathan to adjust the budget for something as silly as new clothes, when the ones you have are perfectly fine?  You’re so close to having enough money for a down payment!  Don’t screw that up! 

So I open another tab and enter a few search parameters into MLS.  I’ll just see if there are any new listings.  Maybe I should check the neighbourhood around Topher’s kindergarten?  It would be nice if I could just walk him to school.

I mean well.

But the voice in my head is relentless.

That one’s nice, but it needs a lot of work.  And you’re not remotely handy.

What do you know about decorating?  You’ve lived here for eight years and the only room you’ve “finished” is the half bath.  That you never use.  

You’re too afraid to take risks.  

Frustrated, I quit Safari and push back from the desk.

I need something to numb my brain.  A run with the dog?  An hour with the Gilmores?  Maybe I should make banana bread.

I flop onto the couch.  “I thought you were writing tonight,” Nathan says, looking up from his video game.  “Are you done?”

“No,” I snort.  “I haven’t even started yet.”

“Oh,” he says, turning back to his game.  He knows better than to try to have a conversation with me when I’m in one of my moods.

I watch in silence for a few minutes, silently seething over the fact that my husband can escape so easily into something as mindless as a video game when I don’t seem to possess the ability to turn my brain off at any time, for any reason.

But then I realize something:  Maybe I don’t need to numb my brain in order to write, maybe I need to deal with it.

Maybe I need to tell the voice in my head to shut up.