I quit.

For a few months now I have been paralyzed by the numbers. Number of page views. Number of followers. Number of likes. Number of comments. Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.

Numbers are important in publishing. Agents and publishers won’t look at you if you don’t have high numbers. Books won’t sell unless you have high numbers.

And somehow I’ve started to equate my worth as a writer, my effectiveness as a minister, by my numbers. But numbers are so fickle. One post will reach thousands and another 25. Facebook changed their algorithm so now my followers don’t even see my posts unless they choose to receive notifications or if I pay for something to go out. Twitter is such a fast moving feed you may only have minutes for someone to grab onto your 140 characters – so you better make that small number of letters count.

I didn’t start writing for the numbers. I started for the words. Words that make a difference in my life. Words to encourage. Words to bring hope. Words to speak truth.

Most of all, God’s word.

For years my ministry verses have been 1 Peter 4:10-11:

1 Peter 410-11

When I’m focused on numbers, I’m not serving others, I’m not depending on God’s strength, I’m not doing it for His glory, I’m doing it for me.

As of today, I quit.

I quit looking at the numbers. I quit trying to please others. I quit seeking attention, publication, the spotlight.

I want to go back to where I started. With a simple toothless grin that lit up my difficult world of postpartum depression, breastfeeding woes, and sleepless nights. I want my writing to be for other mamas and not for me. I want my writing to bring truth into darkness. I want my writing to be for you.

I’m still moving forward. I’m still writing for this little blog. I’m still writing my book. But I’m not going to think about publishing for some time. Not unless I think it is the best thing to do. When I started it, I wanted it to be a resource for new mamas. So, I hope to have it available for you here someday. (Or rather, on my new website, which is ALMOST DONE!)

Thank you, my dear friends, who have always encouraged me and prayed for me on this journey. I think I have needed to go through some massive anxiety in order to reach a point of clarity.

And, God, this is for you. This public repentance is to you. “I acknowledge my need for a savior and I humbly repent. Speak the word that I may be made clean. Wash me that I may be whiter than snow. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation that I may delight in your will, and walk in your way, to the glory of your name, now and forever. Amen.”

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The 3 Parts of a New Year’s Resolution that’s Not Going to Die

Mountains of laundry. Piles of dust. Lumps of toys. Jumbles of books.

No matter how you put it, my house is a mess.

Home from Christmas. Suitcases exploding everywhere. Joy abounds.

Home from Christmas. Suitcases exploding everywhere. Joy abounds.

Going into the New Year I am tempted to make a New Year’s Resolution I can’t keep, like: Clean Up EVERY DAY. Or: Be Organized. Or: Follow a Strict Cleaning Schedule.

But I know myself too well. I know what I can do. I know what I won’t do.

And I know what I don’t want to do.

What I don’t want to do: spend an entire year chasing after the elusive clean house found in Real Simple magazines and Pottery Barn catalogues.

When it comes down to it, though it seems like a good idea to resolve to have a clean home, at the end of the year if I haven’t kept the resolution I’m not going to care. Besides, having such an ambiguous goal as “clean” or ” organized” is not attainable. When will the house be clean? When the children have stopped dragging in dirt? When the dog learns to pick up after herself? Sounds like perpetual frustration for me.

Which means my resolution would be just one more resolution to die by January 3rd.

If I’m going to make a resolution, it’s going to be one I care about. It’s going to be one that’s possible. And it’s going to be one that I can measure. On December 31, 2015, I can look back and say, “See? I kept it. I liked it. And look what’s different because of it.”

With that said: my resolution for 2015 is to Write at least 500 words every weekday of this year.  

Boom.

It took me the majority of 2014 to embrace myself as a writer. To acknowledge I love it. To believe I can do it. And to actually refine some goals and dreams. I went to my first writing conference, participated in a blogging challenge, and gained a few followers on my blog here and there. Offline, I also wrote my first book proposal, received valuable feedback, and have an accountability partner to move forward with the book.

I want to write. I want writing to be in my future professionally. And in order for that to happen, I need to learn to be disciplined.

So there it is: Write at least 500 words every weekday of this  year. Online or off, it doesn’t matter. It just needs to be done.

What’s a resolution you will make that you care about, is possible and that you can measure for 2015?

new years resolution

3 Ways To Swallow When You’ve Bitten Off More Than You Can Chew

While sitting at the smorgasbord of opportunity, my eyes glimmered in the candlelight of my dreams as I loaded my plate high with events, commitments, opportunities. Each one looked better than the rest. Each was an easy yes.

And last week they happened all at once.

Beginning October 1st, I joined #write31days and committed to writing at least 5 minutes a day through the month of October.

31 days big

October 27-29, I studied, listened, learned what it takes to make it as a published writer in this reinvented market under Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt at Writer’s Boot Camp. As part of my continued education from Writer’s Boot Camp, I signed up for feedback on a book proposal for Restoring Mama’s Soul. Little did I realize it will take me the entire month of November to finish it.

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October 31, of course, was Halloween which included finishing my son’s Olaf costume and two parties.

20141031_201936

And on Sunday I will be preaching at Scum of the Earth Church.

As I continue to shovel the food into my mouth, I appreciate the nourishment of each bite, but my mouth is dry, my stomach is full, and my pausing more between bites.

Yet, I don’t want to stop.

So, how do we keep going we’ve bitten off more than we can chew? Here are 3 things I’m doing to keep myself going:

  1. Take a drink. I just woke up from a nap. Over the weekend, even though I was promised an hour more of sleep, I got an hour less. I am tired. Sleep is the lubricant I need in order to keep praying, keep reading, keep thinking my way through my days. It keeps me from spitting out the dry crumbs and creates space in my life for fresh inspiration.
  2. Put on your stretchy pants. With all of my yeses, I need to say a few nos. I should have said no to the elementary school’s Math Night last Thursday. I will say no to any social activity until at least after my sermon on Sunday. I am not going on the women’s retreat with our church this weekend <tear>. But each of these nos allow me to say the yeses I value the most.
  3. Finish well. Bite by bite. The next week is mapped out. The next month is scheduled. I will finish my sermon on time, with room to spare. I will take the book proposal one section at a time, day by day. (My favorite app, Wunderlist, is making sure of that.) And Write 31 Days? I will finish. Just not when I thought I would.
  4. Bonus: I will not try this alone, believe I’m alone, or ever be alone.

I will not

When I remember I am studying, writing, and speaking in His power (1 Peter 4:10-11), the pressure to perform vanishes. I no longer feel like I will choke on my servings, but I know that in Him, all of these good things are possible.

What overwhelms you, today? Do you feel any of these steps will help you chew and swallow?

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

An Apology to My Readers

Day 6 of 31 Days of Connecting

I’ve been sucked in, again. Sucked into looking at my stats, checking out my followers, spending far too much time (in my opinion) “plugging” my blog when in reality, I don’t think this is what God wants me to do.

I’ve become concerned about my image over the content of my writing.

I’ve become upset over lack of response, when God wants me to respond to Him.

I’ve become preoccupied with this blog, instead of focusing on the work He has most definitively called me to.

When I joined 31 days, I joined to:

  • grow as a writer
  • write every day (so that I learn to write every day – AKA grow as a writer)
  • explore what it looks like to connect with God, self, and others (because it is very connected to my book)
  • join a community of writers on the interwebs

That’s it.

As I joined #write31days, I also joined Twitter. Twitter. The social media platform I said I would never do and really have no interest in… maybe I’ll find it beneficial… maybe.

I have also compromised in spending FAR too much time on this blog – and it has not been worth it. I have not gained and I don’t think you have either.

Also… also, I have lost the vision of sharing myself with you. My reader. And so, I’m sorry.

I do plan on continuing on in this 31 days of Connecting. But I hope to bring to you a bit more soul. A bit more of me.

I really want to bring people closer to Jesus. But I know that unless they see me walking with Him, it’s really nothing but words on a page.

I hope for more for you. More for us.

May God be with us.

I lose my track of my mission in Christ because I get caught up in a popularity contest. What about you? Where do you lose track of your walk with Christ?

Are You Ready?

Five Minute Friday… on Tuesday. Oh well. 😉 Today’s writing prompt, Ready.

Jack, Ready for Circus Night at Chick-fil-a.

Jack, Ready for Circus Night at Chick-fil-a.

Am I ready? Are you?

I’ve waited and waited to write my book, now that the time has come to actually do it, I’ve wondered, can I? Am I actually able, ready to do this?

We wonder if we’re ready all through life. Are we ready to get married? Are we ready to buy a house? Area we ready to have kids? Are we ready to have a pet? Are we ready to commit? Are we ready to pull away? Are we ready to work? Are we ready to rest?

We – or maybe I should say I, I don’t want to speak for you –  wonder so much about being ready, I often wind up sitting, not doing anything, but waiting when it is time to go. I don’t take the opportunity presented to me, but sit long past the time when God said, “Go!”

So, I’m ready. I’m ready to take the step to write the book. Yes, I’m writing a book. I don’t know the title (are you good at titles? Suggest something! ;)), but here’s what it’s about:

The  biggest struggle of a new mama is not breastfeeding, sleep schedules, or perpetual laundry, it is figuring out how to (re)connect with God in this new stage of life. My book is a devotional reflecting on the truth about God’s unique love for mamas as well as creative ways to meet with Him in the midst our bleary eyes and draining days.

I’m ready. Will you help me? Will you provide feedback? Because I know I need your help. I need your voice. Were you ready to be a mom? Were you ready to connect with God postpartum? Were you able to? What was it like?

Will you be part of my Awesome Mamas Group? Yeah, I’m making a group. It’ll be on Facebook and everything. Watch for it.

Will you follow this blog and provide feedback? Because your words, your experiences are sooooo important. You keep me going. You provide the perspective I need to hear and see, because your unique life can speak into mine and into the others who will one day ready the book.

I’m writing this book. And as we connect, talk, listen, pray, read, be, we mamas are writing it together. Are you ready?

I am.

Let’s go.

 

Dare I say it? … (I am a writer)…

5minutefridayEvery Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker and writers across the web join Five Minute Friday for five minutes of writing on the word of her choice. There are no major edits, no second guesses, just five minutes to write. I join to grow as a writer. Here is this week’s Five Minute Friday.

This week, Lisa-Jo chose the word writer. Writer. The one word that has my heart racing, my palms sweating, my mind stirring and my fears rising.

Writer.

Am I a writer?

I desire to be a writer. I try to be a writer. I work at being a writer. Could I really truly be identified as a writer? Is it crazy to consider trying my hand at writing… as a profession?

<gasp!> I said it. I want it. I desire it. Since I was ten and my fourth grade teacher Mrs. McHugh encouraged my dreams of writing as I haphazardly wrote short stories loosely based on favorite novels and I worried about plagiarism without even knowing that was a word… I have longed to be a writer.

But I am afraid.

I am afraid of failure. Of speaking my dreams – of taking a small step (or several grand ones) towards writing and developing my skill – only to see myself fall short in some way.

Yet, everywhere I have turned for the past four months, God has spoken to me that it is time.

It is time to embrace the gifts He has given me and to develop them. To draw people towards Him through authentic stories, honest reflections, and strong teaching of His word by way of my words.

It is time to give way to the ideas and passions stirring in me towards that book idea I’ve had for FIVE YEARS. It is beating against the door of my heart to get out. I must let it out. I must give it the time it needs to become what it is.

It is time to take the time to become the writer that is inside of me. To cut things out that don’t fit this dream – this incessant call to write.

It is time to say it.

I am a writer.

…stay tuned…

 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT

Spend it Writing

-Meme by Lisa-Jo Baker