Thursday, 21 April 2016

I've hit the big 5O! A guide to blogging success in Christ

I have hit the big five O!

Apparently 50 is a milestone number for writers. I've always seen sitcoms celebrating the 50 th and 100 th episode. So I'm celebrating too. Technically, this is my 51 st but who's counting?

When I just started my blog, I read everything blog related; I went on a few bloggers networks- they said- don't apply unless you've written 50 posts! So I wanted to get here, it meant being taken seriously. It meant you were committed... It meant you were blogger network worthy. most ' goals ' when you get there, you are like ' now what? ' What happens when you hit those self imposed, man made targets?

I have scribbled a few of my thoughts, dare I say tips in this post about 'successful' blogging.

Push pass the crowd and touch the hem of his garment! 

When I started this blog 50 posts back in July, I had no idea there were so many Christian blogs out there. I felt like Alice in Wonderland- lost!

But I wrote still! 

I read all the posts that offered advice on how to grow your blog. I visited successful sites and tried to get ideas, I read posts on SEO's. I latched on to free webinars, signed up to receive mail from ' the people who went through it already so you don't have to'! 

I wrote, and I waited with every post to see a share- I waited for that ' viral post!'

Afterall, that's what makes blogs successful right? And doesn't God want us to be successful? If he called us to share through this medium, shouldn't we do all it takes to get in the big leagues?....

Your answer will depend on who you ask, but I read on a holy, one of my favourite Christian blogs...viral is closely related to virus! Isn't that the truth!

We are called to share the word for God's glory, not our own- he's been teaching me that. We all like to feel appreciated, and acknowledged for our efforts but this type of work requires all egos to be left behind; so if it's viral content we seek, we are in the wrong line of work.

The lady with the issue of blood pushed through the crowd to touch Jesus. We, in our efforts to push through the crowded blogosphere, must also seek to touch Jesus to be made whole. Jesus, and by extension his disciples touched lives - one at a time. Remember, the harvest is plenty, it's the labourers that are few. There are enough people out there for every blogger to reach one!

Find your niché 

God, in his wisdom gave us all a purpose, each one different but all to be used for his ultimate glory. I used to sing this hymn in high school...the line...' And we though many throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.' It occurred to me that we look around at others and try to imitate their successes, not appreciating that our one true and wise God has given us a fire shut up in our bones for us to unleash! Each member important but with its own function. We must uncover our purpose and use it to his glory, that alone will make you successful.

The disciples, I suspect, might have had no idea their own writings would have changed a generation! They too didn't have a cult following but were just men, like you and me, being obedient to the unction of the spirit.

So, if you find that you are a great cook, and want to inspire others to eat healthier, feed that! If you have a way to write to reach the young- play it up. If you have a heart for the homeless- love them. Ultimately, we are feeding his sheep.

Write your truth

Another tip I came across from successful bloggers - write posts that help others in some way. Give advice to help others through their struggles. 
Many times when we go through our trials, we are fooled by the adversary that noone understands. We are alone. No one has gone through this before; we hide ourselves behind shame. But, oh, for some honest truth to shine through and light our darkness! In our quest to make our blogs successful, we often make it sanitised and cookie cutter perfect! The lost stay that way and slip deeper down the rabbit hole. The disciples were honest. They said- look right here at this thorn in my side, it's bothering me and I have prayed for relief. Relief wasn't immediate but it's coming. Again they made us know that that thing which we want to do, we do not but do what is wrong... We are in a battle of flesh and spirit but there is a hope in Jesus if we keep our minds stayed on him.

We have to write our truths to help others.

That shameful story, that dark place where we once hid, we must shine light there and look for others and bring them out from the depths of their own hells. People need raw, honest truths as desperately as the blind want to see. If your writing helps one, then you are successful.

SEO and the numbers game

I used to come into my blog and painstakingly look at my numbers- how many visitors did I have today? Which post did they read? How many shares did I have?  Were their any comments? Then I started to compare my blog with others and I started to 'introspect'. So many posts are written all over the Internet about how to increase your numbers, get more traffic to your blog, get more followers and get noticed. To what end? It's easy to lose sight of the end!

I read an interesting article early in my blog about Christian blogging and getting more traffic, the writer thought that we need to be just as vigorous in getting noticed as all the other genres of blogging because we have a greater purpose. The article also said the more people we reach, the more souls we are likely to touch; I agreed, in part.
Numbers and blog traffic are important especially if you want to monetize your blog and segway into appearances and book deals- cause as they say ' ain't nobody got time to listen to a person who isn't relevant'..right?

But, oh for a God who tells me that my talent will make way for me. Oh for a God that gives me favour! Oh when Jesus says ' yes' nobody can say no! I am by no means promoting mediocrity, for my God does nothing that isn't 'good' but God has a process, and most often, he starts small, with just a seed. As the tree grows, he prunes and then we all bear fruit in due season, and as we stay under his guidance we continue in prosperity.

God promotes, not man. You will be in the right place at the right time when he believes you are ready. Your job?... Be obedient.

I could have better numbers, I could write better titles for my posts to turn up in Google searches but I write the titles that are on my heart. I try to be honest. I look at my numbers now and I do not allow them to tell me I am not good enough a writer. I do not allow them to tell me that my content is bad. I am learning that I am pre approved, as Jennifer Dukes Lee says; I am going through my process.

Be true to yourself and give yourself a break.

I have a full time job, I'm a single mother, and I am basically running this blog from my phone! I have internet and PC issues and writing weekly posts, plus doing all the marketing it takes to run what is deemed a successful blog is a struggle. I'm tired and stretched thin, I am aware of my truths and I have to let them guide my decisions. If it were up to me, all my spare time would be spent sleeping but I know I am called to write and I have to push past my tiredness and  sometimes laziness and make the best use of my time. But I don't beat up on myself, instead I lean. Lean on him that can make my burdens light and fix it for me. It will all come together, he promises, he knows the plans he has for me and you...and just like his is good!

Life, begins at 50 huh?...let's see

Happy blogging disciples!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Hello fear, there's something I need to tell you

Hello fear.

Just before the Easter break, I started teaching homophones, in our curriculum, it is referred to as word pairs. Fear, was not one of my featured words - it came in threes. I didn't want to complicate matters in an introductory lesson.

Fear, you see, complicates matters.

Fear and I have been having a symbiotic relationship for years, a little fear is good right? It keeps you in check, keeps you out of trouble and it can even help you to make critical decisions (that fight or flight hormone). Over time though, things took a turn for the worst. Fear became a friend I loved to love, and it slowly ate away at my being.

Fear overtakes things and makes light places dark places.

Recently, while I looked at my fearful place through a trembling heart, I realised how much of myself I allowed fear to cover with its dark veil. I hadn't allowed parts of me to live. I hadn't allowed parts of me to be known. I hadn't allowed myself to be me.

Fear, you see, takes small pieces at a time...until...

It is a crippling feeling to face my fear, for in doing so, I had to face a part of me that made me feel shame. I had made a mistake that was costly. I had made a mistake that had ramifications. I had made a mistake that I let define me. My mistake, let fear dwell in my mind and my heart. But, I lived life with a smile that covered fallen away pieces. I lived life with my own private, unspoken fear.

Fear likes to hide things.

When God decides to work on a heart, he's going to disturb some things. He's going to uncover some things. He's going to come in with that light and shine it on that dark place. That place that fear abides. Funny, one would imagine that when his light bursts in and illuminates a dark place, that would be the end of that- no more darkness right?....wrong!
Just like a flashlight in a dark room, he zooms in on an area; you get to see the rubble that's there. You then, have to clean up!

Fear meets fare.

When that light shun on fear, when I saw how many pieces of myself was hidden in the dark places, I wept. I wept because of my mistake. I wept because I had become a prisoner of my past. I wept because I was afraid to clean up. When you have to take piles of garbage out, it's highly likely that people will see. It's even more likely that they will judge you. It's a given, you will condemn yourself. I did. But. I looked at fear, and through the tears, I said 'hello fear'...there's something I need to tell you!
"Meet your word pair...fare." A price has already been paid for me to journey through this life, without you.

2 Timothy 1:7 " For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind"

Facing fears ultimately means stepping out in faith. Faith is the kryptonite of fear. Faith; my greatest struggle to date. So, if God is shinning his light on my fears, he is simply asking me to increase my faith. He is asking me to trust him. He is asking me to rest in him. He is loving my unspoken broken to wholeness.

Letting go of fear, means letting go of a familiar safety net. When you do that, you mourn a loss. This too can lead to another kind of vulnerability, that can lead to...fear.

What if I let go of fear and I am judged?
What if my mistake is forgiven by God but not by man?
What if I fail?
What if my faith weins?

Fear not!

Fear delights in secrecy. Fear establishes insecurity. Fear gives legitimacy to self doubt. Fear cripples. Fear steals time and let dreams die. Fear held these words in its dark place.

I put off writing this post for weeks, fear gripped the words and threw it in a pile of rubble. It turns out, that's the very pile God shun his light on. I saw it. I moved towards the pile with knees that wobbled, I took up a word at a time like a shy child in a room full of strangers. My heart pounded through my chest with every word I made into a sentence until I breathed steady breaths of relief. God, never gives you more than you can bear and he only asks you to bare your dark places to heal your brokeness.

" So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10.

Hello fear'...there's something I need to tell you...I made a list and you're on it.

Hello Fear" by Kirk Franklyn

Hello Fear 
Before you sit down there's something I need to explain 
Since you're here 
I think I should tell you since we last talked things have changed 
See I'm tired of being broken-hearted 
So I made a list and you're on it 
All my hopes and my dreams You took from me 
I want those back before you leave 

Hello Fear 
I knew I would see you, You have a hard time letting go 
See these tears,Take a good look cuz, soon they wont fall anymore 
God's healing my hurtful places 
That seat that was yours now is taken 
I'm no longer afraid,See I'm better this way 
And one more thing before you leave 

Never again will I love you 
My heart it refuses to be your home 
No longer your prisoner 
Today I remember 
Apart from you is where I belong 

And never again will I trust you 
I'm tired of fighting it's been way too long 
No longer your prisoner 
Today I remember 
Who I was and now it's gone 
They're gone 
Hello Fear 
Da da da da da, da da da da da 

Farewell Goodbye So long [3X]

Hello Grace 
It feels like forever, I thought my chance with you was gone 
See your face, it reminds me of mercy 
And please let me say I was wrong 
Never knew your touch was endless 
How you never run dry of forgiveness 
Didn't know how bad it was, was afraid just because 
Sorry fear, grace took your place 


Farewell Goodbye So long [8X]

Hello Fear 
Before you sit down there's something I need to explain
Taken from