Happy Birthday Traces of Faith!
One year ago today, I became a blogger here. A real writer. A title I struggled to accept for myself.
That was January.
I started some social media pages as well and received such warm encouragement from my friends. They read the first few articles and things moved along quickly.
Right away, I started following other bloggers on social media. Something I had never done with any regularity because I just didn’t take the time. I discovered a great deal of talent and calling among the blogging community.
I also continued to write posts to let my readers get to know me a bit better. Ways I could trace Him at work in my life. Like this one about going to court with a friend.
That was February.
So much of my writing invited others into the story. Because I quickly discovered that God surrounded me with people who lived faith-filled, remarkable lives. Even when they seemed ordinary. I could trace God at work in their every day lives too. I’ve written many articles saluting them. Like this one: In Which I Salute The Ordinary Christian.
That was March.
In the spring, I had the privilege of attending the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College right here in Grand Rapids. Although I’d only blogged for four months at this point, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to rub shoulders with other writers. The lineup of speakers was remarkable. After one session, I found myself face to face with none other but blogger of all bloggers, Rachel Held Evans. I introduced myself, rattled a few insignificant words, for I never know what to say when I find myself given three seconds in the presence of one famous.
She said hi and asked me a simple question. One I have thought about almost daily ever since.
“What’s your blog about?”
One of my personal favorite posts comes from this month as well. During the season of Lent, as we turned our focus towards Resurrection Sunday. Does Amazon Sell Holy Water (I'm Asking For A Friend)?
That was April.
A few months into blogging now, I started to get a feel for my topics. I began to realize which articles would meet with a relative popularity. Topics like family, recipes, mothering. However, I knew my heart often needed to express my musings on the church, God’s Word, our religious heritage. I try to balance my time between what’s popular and what I need to process. So, in one month, you might find posts about motherhood. And also posts reflecting on the Sabbath.
That was May.
At the six-month mark of my blogging, I wanted to write a piece that looked back on how much I’d learned in just a few months. About how much goes into blogging. It’s good to look back.
That was June.
A dear friend lost her stepdad just before Independence Day. I was out of town on vacation and a part of me wanted to get right home so I could walk in grief with her. God has taught me so much about grief and loss through these few years in ministry. Many of my posts explore this topic. Here’s the one I wrote as a tribute to her.
That was July.
In addition to writing about friends and family myself (with their permission), I also had three guest posts in my first year of blogging. This one by my friend Sara reads raw and real. I love that today she’s happily married! Her article, “When Divorce Changes Everything,” remains the most popular post to date.
That was August.
Also in mid-August, I began a partnership with Family Christian Stores. They work with various bloggers to market different products, in-store promotions and community events. This group is new and I am honored to be one of their first blogging partners. Here is an example of one of the many pieces I’ve written with them.
That was September.
I turned 40 this fall. Years don’t mean that much to me. I’m thankful to be healthy and happy. But I had a lot of fun preparing the piece I shared on my birthday. “40 Life Lessons from 40 Years.”
That was October.
I had found a real blogging rhythm by this point in the year. I did book reviews, I had discovered a group over at Kate Motaung’s blog that wrote Five Minute Friday pieces. Every week, she gives a word prompt and bloggers write a piece, unedited, unplanned, in five minutes. It took me right back to high school English class and I loved that. By this point, I was posting about three times a week. And interacting with a lot of bloggers through Facebook and Twitter.
I continued to feel led to share the stories of those people I saw living solid lives of faith. Those who showed the world a real need for Jesus. I wrote this piece about Krista and Kelly, two friends who battle breast cancer with a beautiful bravery.
That was November.
Blogging amidst all of the holiday hustle and bustle was a bit challenging. By this point, though, I had discovered that writing equals processing for me. And this time of year, as always, left me with so much to reflect on. I also had a little fun with the blog too. I wrote this post about our annual holiday baking extravaganza and shared it with other blogging communities in the Countdown to Christmas Project.
That was December.
And if you’re still reading, thank you! Your Facebook likes, Twitter shares and all the online comments mean so much to me. I’ve run out of space with this one-year anniversary piece. I knew I would. I have so much to share with you.
In closing though, I want to address the question Rachel Held Evans asked me way back in April. A million blogging months ago, it seems.
“What is your blog about?”
That question has altered in my mind slightly. Instead, I often ask myself,
"Who is your audience?"
I’ll give the Sunday School answer first. My audience is Jesus. An audience of One. I write to give Him glory. In all things.
I have a dear friend who isn’t on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Which I admire in an Amishesque kind of way. I email her each and every blog post. And, in all her kindness she reads every. single. one. I cannot express what that means to me. She comments on the vast majority as well. She is my encouraging sister in Christ. I told her recently that if it came right down to it, I’d write just for her and Jesus. Because it feels good to feel read and encouraged.
Finally, though, I write for you. I realize that’s a rather broad audience. But I place my answer right in there with the sweeping generality we find in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world [insert your name in place of the world] that He gave His only begotten Son, that [if insert your name here] should believe in Him, [insert your name here] shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
I want to move each and every one of you, my readers, one step closer to Jesus. I want you to realize His love for the whole world. That includes you. I want to help each of you go through your every days and trace God at work in your own life. I want my articles to show you how active He is in my own journey. I want to tell you stories about how He lives in so many around me.
If I can be so bold, I want to do as John the Baptist did. We read in John 1:15:
“John testified concerning Him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’”