Author Archives: elizabeth

Merry Christmas from EE to You! (and please sign my International Christmas Card!)

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Since I can’t send each of you a Christmas card, I decided to post a virtual one here!

Merry Christmas!
Thank you for the time you’ve spent reading my words this year.
Thank you for all the wonderful emails, comments and messages throughout 2014.
With best wishes for a happy, peaceful and beautiful holiday season,
EE & Family
Southern California, USA

We’d love for you to “sign” our virtual Christmas card.
Please leave a comment and don’t forget to tell us where you’re from!
It’s so fun receiving greetings from all over the world.

p.s. I’ll be taking a blog break until the New Year. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to read every greeting!
Much love.
XO.
EE.

My twins are seven.

photoMy twins are turning 7 this week which means I’m turning 85 because there is nothing like having twins to warp-speed the aging process. I used to think of myself as one of those sprightly, energetic, fashionable moms who did crafts with her children everyday. These days I’m more like a withered old crone dragging her worn-out uterus behind her. Crafts, I shake my arthritic fist at thee!

The good book says children are a blessing from God but it forgets to mention that children are also full-time janitor duty. Yesterday while folding a bazillionth load of their laundry I found myself muttering: “Only ten more years, ten more years, maybe eleven.”

But then this morning, my twins came barreling down the stairs AT THE CRACK OF DAWN, pulled out boxes of markers, canisters of crayons, reams of paper and camped at my feet to draw and draw and draw. I mean, I wish they would sleep longer so I could drink my coffee and journal in peace but they were so adorable that I was like: “Awwww, can you please just live with me forever??”

This morning I went back and read-through the posts I’ve written over the last seven years and I found myself laughing aloud and tearing up, so happy that I’d chronicled these memories.

Here are a few funny and entertaining highlights from raising twins:

…”You really must break into song because children are easily distracted by the sound of music. Granted, your middle-schoolers might skedaddle to the produce section while you yodel through the meat department but your little ones will gape at you with shining eyes. Your heart will suddenly explode with the unabashed epiphany that nobody —NOBODY—can be The Best Parent to your child except you.”

“We wanna look like each other because we’re twins!”
“But girls! How about we give your teachers a break and make it easy for them to tell you apart?”
Blank stares.
Matching bobs and bangs for all. Plus lollipops.

 

The twins have entered the tattling stage and come running to me with various tales of woe. “You know! You know! You know Jorie marked on the wall!” Before they figured out tattling, they bit each other. I think tattling is an improvement.

 

Five little heads all bowed in prayer and Daddy nursing his gouty ankle and Mommy scratching at her psoriatic foot, that’s when I realize: the twins gave me the gift of letting go. Being free. Embracing imperfection. And truly knowing, for the first time in my life, that love really is just like the Energizer Bunny. It goes on and on.

 

The other night I was jolted awake by Something Sinister breathing near my face. I sprang from the bed doing my best battle-ready, Kung Fu kick. HI-YA! It turned out to be nothing more than a blanket-draped toddler, standing in silent vigil next to my bed. Weirder still, my war yell did nothing to startle her. This is the Phantom Baby who has made a game of getting up at night: Look at me hiding behind the toilet in the pitch dark! Look at me crouched up like a tiny ball on my sister’s bed! Look at me breathing in your face at 2 a.m.!

 

The twins are 2.5 years old. To celebrate, they decided to dip my hairbrush into the toilet bowl the better to smooth each other’s curls. They were also thirsty. And apparently, toilet water tastes mighty fine, thank you very much. At this point, I fully expect to be awakened at 3 am by a police officer at our front door saying our toddlers were found at the local sushi bar, chatting it up and throwing back shots of apple juice.

 

Things hit a new low a few days after Barf Week when I realized I’d been stepping over the same spot of dried puke for 10 days. I’d been cleaning up vomit for so many days that I’d lost track of everything. I’d forgotten how many days since I last showered. I couldn’t remember when I’d last brushed my teeth. My scalp ached from being in a permanent pony-tail-bun.

 

You haven’t truly parented until you go out to eat and your twin toddlers start yelling: “F$#k! F$#k!” in unison while you try to explain to the waitress: “FORK! They mean FORK! You know…TO EAT WITH!”

 

I’m just gonna quit buying actual toys. Turns out all kids really want is a drawer full of tupperware, some twigs, a few rocks and an armful of hair accessories. Oh, and shelves full of books—for pulling off the shelf, of course. 

 

Having twins forced me to let go of lotsa things I once believed were necessary to our happiness. In many ways, we live a much simpler life now. I mother my children and I write. My kids go to school and maybe play one sport a year. To my great surprise, life is better this way.

 

Problem: no swim diapers. So, the twins wore regular diapers under their bathing suits. It worked fine for the first ten minutes until we noticed they were staggering around, screeching and slipping like like half-drunken sailors. The sodden weight of their soaked diapers were like anchors strapped around their waists. Joss kept slapping her bulging belly and shouting: “BUTT! BUTT!”

 

The twins began walking this month. Until I bought them their first pair of shoes. This confused them, like Mom, why did you put blocks on my feet? They started walking like high-stepping horses, lifting each foot really high and setting it down with a huge CLOMP!

When I think about the ordeal of premature labor, emergency C-section, NICU, leaving the hospital without my babies, bringing my twins home and the first year of their lives….I’m amazed at what we’ve been through. There were times this past year when I was completely overwhelmed. It all started the day I had my C-section and the babies had been whisked away from me. I lay awake the entire night, worrying about my babies, feeling so empty. I had grown so accustomed to feeling the babies move inside me. That whole night I cried, threw-up, prayed and cried some more. I’m so thankful that the NICU was not the end of our story. There were other precious babies in that NICU–so many with weeping mothers like me–and some of them did not survive. Today, I remember and say a prayer for these mothers and their children.

 

Why the Immaculate Conception makes Protestants squirm {and why it doesn’t have to!}

On December 8, Catholics celebrate The Immaculate Conception. I wrote this post last year and thought it might be helpful to repost it this year. xo. EE.

Virgin of the Immaculate Conception by Pierre Puget

Virgin of the Immaculate Conception by Pierre Puget

When I was a Protestant and heard Catholics talking about the “Immaculate Conception,” I assumed they were referring to how Jesus was conceived. You know, without sex. I assumed Catholics viewed sex as dirty and since Mary got pregnant WITHOUT HAVING SEX, I thought Jesus’ conception was The Immaculate Conception.

Welp. I was wrong.

First of all, the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary’s conception and secondly, it isn’t referring to the act of sex at all.

The Immaculate Conception refers to the sanctification of Mary’s soul at the moment of its creation, at the moment she was conceived.

In other words, Catholics believe that as preparation for the special role Mary would play in bearing the Son of God in her very womb, God granted her a unique grace by preserving her from the stain of Original Sin before it had a chance to blemish her soul. To understand why this was necessary, it’s important to understand what Catholics believe about Original Sin. When Catholics talk about Original Sin they’re either referring to the sin that Adam & Eve committed in the garden of Eden OR the hereditary stain of sin passed down to us.

When Catholics celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception we are celebrating the extraordinary abundance of grace that God gave Mary at the moment of her conception, preserving her soul from the hereditary stain of Original Sin.

Perhaps an easier way to understand this is that while you and I are redeemed after we are born, Mary was redeemed before she was born. Like us, she needed a Savior. God simply chose to save her at an earlier point in her life than the rest of us. This pre-birth redemption of Mary, so to speak, is what we call The Immaculate Conception.

La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción by Murillo

La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción by Murillo

To be honest, when I was a Protestant, all these Marian doctrines confused me. And even after I became Catholic I struggled for a long time with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Why was it so important that Mary be preserved from the stain of Original Sin? Why did Catholics make such a fuss about a woman who was “just” Jesus’ Mother? To me, it always seemed that venerating Mary somehow detracted from the centrality of Christ.

It has taken me awhile to understand that Mary always brings us to Jesus. I’m not supposed to try and understand her apart from Him. In the end, all the Marian doctrines are really ALL ABOUT JESUS.

In fact, I realized it was a mistake to get all caught up in literalistic questions about Mary, demanding exact chapter and verse in the Bible. The thing is? The earliest church fathers were writing about Mary’s purity before the Bible was even compiled. Whoa.

As St. Hippolytus (170-235 AD) wrote: Mary was a “tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption.

St. Proclus (died circa 447 AD): “She was formed without any stain.

St. Ambrose (340-397): “A virgin immune through grace from every stain of sin.”

St. Augustine (354-430): all the just have known of sin “except the Holy Virgin Mary, of whom, for the honour of the Lord, I will have no question whatever where sin is concerned.

Stunner: Catholics have been writing about Mary’s purity from the earliest years of Christianity. So, if the earliest Christians believed this–even if it wasn’t dogmatically defined until much later–why was I so hasty to discount it? Did I really believe that the best and most faithful witnesses to Christianity only appeared on the scene right around the time of Billy Graham? Or maybe, if we were reeeally reaching back, the Puritans?

Ultimately it came down to an issue of trust: could I trust that the Holy Spirit had led the early church? Wouldn’t it be more prudent of me to rest on the hard work and prayer of those saints who had gone before instead of saddling myself with the Herculean task of figuring it all out for myself?

I finally rested in believing that it’s enough for me to agree with what the Church teaches–agreeing that the flesh from which the spotless Son of God was formed should be immaculate, too.

And so, like the Angel Gabriel I hail her as “FULL of grace” and answer “YES” to God just like she did.

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With deep gratitude for saints’ quotes and doctrinal explanation from NewAdvent.org and to Devin Rose whose book “If Protestantism is True” helped me better understand Marian doctrines from a former Protestant’s perspective. Also, to Mark Shea and his book: “Mary, Mother of the Son: modern myths and ancient truth”. Lastly, my deepest gratitude to Scott & Kimberly Hahn whose book “Rome Sweet Home” was the first book I read that helped me in my journey home to Catholicism.

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Other articles I’ve written about Mary:

How Mary Brought Me Back to Jesus Part 1 and Part 2

Putting Mary Away

Jesus Sent His Mother to Comfort Me

Maybe I’m a racist and I didn’t even know it

I admit that it’s taken the killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner for me to realize racism isn’t just a problem in America—it’s a significant problem in America. That sentence makes me shudder. It means that I am part of the problem. It means I have participated in the white majority culture that says All Those Race Problems were solved during the Civil Rights era and anyone who claims otherwise just has a “chip on their shoulder.” Whoa.

Am I racist? Maybe I am and I didn’t even know it. This makes me extremely uncomfortable. It also scares me. It scares me because I don’t even begin to understand what I don’t know, what I should have known, what I’m now beginning to know…

But maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe it’s time for me—as a white American—to feel extremely uncomfortable. And really, my discomfort is NOTHING in comparison to the daily discomfort of actually EXPERIENCING discrimination. I’ve had the PRIVILEGE of not realizing there was a big problem in America; mainly because it was a problem that didn’t affect ME.

God, forgive me. My fellow Americans, forgive me.

There was a time when I would have adamantly asserted that I was not racist. That I loved everyone.  As a Christian, I would have quoted Scripture about how in Christ there is no male or female, no Jew or Gentile, that God is not a respecter of persons… ….but what did that prove? Only that I could SAY I wasn’t racist. And doesn’t EVERYONE say that? I mean, I can sincerely believe I’m not racist while still thinking, speaking and behaving in a discriminatory way. I can SAY I’m not racist while still participating in an inherently discriminatory culture.

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It’s like I’m in a cult called White in America. I can’t see the problems of being Black in America because White in America is all I know and also, White in America is the majority culture. Which is to say, nobody inside a cult thinks they’re in a cult—especially if the cult IS the majority culture! I didn’t know I was racist because I didn’t have to see, engage or solve the problems. They weren’t my problems.

The very fact that it’s taken me this long to wake up is a a sign of my white privilege: I didn’t have to look at the racial problems in America because I had the luxury of not having to deal with it on a daily basis. Meanwhile, brown and black Americans have been dying and going to prison under horribly unjust circumstances and I could dismiss it as: “Well, they never learned how to respect authority.” Or: “They came from broken families.” Or: “They didn’t have morals.” Or: “They could have succeeded if they’d just obeyed the rules like everyone else, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps….”

Those excuses seem unkind and unloving (and racist?) to me now.

I’m sorry it took me so long but my eyes are open and this is what I see:

If racism isn’t a problem in America, then why do we call an unarmed black teenager a “thug” and an unarmed white teenager a “delinquent”? If it’s not about race, then why do we call it “looting” when people of color steal and “white collar crime” when an investment banker steals?

When a black person is outraged by injustice we call it “inciting a riot.” But when a white person is outraged by injustice we call it “expressing grief.”

Why is it that when a black kid commits a crime, it’s blamed on “bad parenting” but when a white kid commits a crime, it’s blamed on “bad friends” (who are probably black)?

When a black male is killed, we quickly forget his name. But when a white person is killed, we pass new laws and name it after the deceased.

This is what I see and I realize it’s only a fragment of a whole history and experience I have not heard nor to which I’ve given much attention.

I still don’t know how to understand all I’m starting to see. All I know is that I’m becoming aware and awareness is the first step toward change.

My eyes are open.

I’m listening.

#BlackLivesMatter

10 Easy Tips for Becoming a Better Blogger

While curating The Treasury of Small Blogs over the past three months, I’ve noticed a few simple ways small bloggers can improve their blogs. I thought it might be helpful to compile a quick list of easy things you can do right now to build a better blogging platform. I hope this encourages you to keep blogging! Blogging isn’t dead! BLOG ON, oh bloggers, BLOG ON.

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10 Easy Tips for Becoming a Better Blogger: Beginner’s Edition

1. Make an ABOUT page. When I click on your site and read something interesting, the first thing I want to know is: who IS this awesome person? At the very least, make it easy for your readers to find out your name, social media handles and email contact. Think of your ABOUT page as your online resumé. Provide links to your most-liked posts. Encourage readers to stay in touch by signing up to receive your posts via email.

2. Be CONSISTENT with your name. If your blog is called “Butterfly Kisses” it’s very confusing to first-time readers if your Twitter handle is @MommyLikesDonutsInTheMorning (I just chose these names randomly, my apologies if your blog is called “Butterfly Kisses”!). People have a hard time remembering first names let alone three or four different social media names. Keep it consistent.

3. High-quality profile pic. Your readers want to see you. Place a high-quality, good sized profile pic somewhere on the front page of your blog (header or sidebar is usually best). A good, high-quality pictures tells your readers you value yourself and your blog. A good picture helps readers feel like they’re making a personal connection with you. At least in the beginning, it’s also helpful if you use the same profile pic for Twitter, Instagram and your Facebook fan page. p.s. try to avoid iPhone selfies.

4. Own your space and stop apologizing for it! Please don’t undercut yourself by writing self-deprecating descriptions like: “I’m just a mom. I’m not REALLY a writer. I guess this is just my little space to share my unimportant thoughts.” UGH. Please, no. No whiney, self-bashing comments (which sound rather like false humility, anyway). This is YOUR awesome space! This is YOUR amazing BLOG! You have permission to do whatever you like with it. Show us how awesome you are! Let your content—not your self-deprecating comments—speak for your awesomeness.

5. Moderate comments. This is your lawn, strangers are not allowed to crap on it. If a comment makes you feel uncomfortable, just delete it. Your blog is YOUR space and you have permission to protect it. Additionally, you don’t owe anyone an explanation or apology for how you choose to moderate comments.

6. Publish your full feed, not excerpts. Be generous with your content. Publish the full feed via RSS. Don’t make your readers click through to “read more.” You want your content as accessible as possible. People have a bazillion options for reading content on the Internet. Make it easy for them to read yours. {Note: a full feed is different than excerpting posts. I excerpt my posts in order to keep my page clean and uncluttered).

7. Optimize your content for mobile readers. iPhones and Tablets have changed the way people read blogs. Readers will read your stuff while waiting for their coffee, in the carpool line, in restaurants, at the dry cleaners. Odds are they WON’T be sitting down at a computer to read your words so make sure your content is readable via mobile devices (this is another reason NOT to excerpt your content).

8. Make it easy for people to like and share your content. Every blog post should end with at least one or two share buttons. When people read something they like, they WANT to share. Make it easy for them to do that. I’m not a fan of overwhelming options. You don’t need to provide EVERY share button imaginable. Just a couple.

9. Don’t forget Instagram! People love sharing and connecting on Instagram. Use a picture from your blog post and type a few, tantalizing words as a caption for an Instagram picture. Finish the caption with the words “Link in Profile” so viewers will know to go to your profile page and click on your blog link if they want to read more. Or use Instagram as a supplement to your blog. Sometimes there are short book reviews that I want to share—without having to write a full post on my site. So, I use Instagram like a mini-blog. You may even get more comments on IG than on your site. :)

10. Be generous. Respond to comments and emails. Engage your readers on Twitter. Visit your readers’ blogs and leave comments. Answer questions. Cultivate an atmosphere of sharing and generosity.

#TreasuryofSmallBlogs, December 2014

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Once again, I’m honored to feature your beautiful writing on my blog. I no longer believe the rumors that blogging is dying. If your words are any indication, blogs are still an exquisite medium for sharing our stories and connecting with kindred spirits. I received 100+ submissions this month. I chose my top ten favorites. If I didn’t choose your post, please don’t be discouraged. Keep writing. Keep blogging. I will continue to host this #TreasuryOfSmallBlogs so there’s always next month! Please follow the writers featured today by clicking on their Twitter and blog links. Much love to all & Merry Christmas. xo. EE.

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I am a white girl with a non-white family; oh, how many STRUGGLES I must have faced, right? It’s just unease. It’s like four fingers on a glove. It’s like a pebble in your shoe. Something is askew and I don’t know how to put it right. It is not my blood’s fault, or my skin’s. I am bereft of something I never had. —Katherine Diehl @ “A noiseless noise in the orchard”

 

I was too wrecked to hide the truth. I gave her some bullet points of the past year, and described the harrowing drive that had broken it all open again, and the sleepless night that had now left me one tiny hiccup away from complete crazy.She asked, “What do you hear God saying to you in all this?” And I said, “Just take the next step. Just take the next step.” —Kay Bruner.com,
Twitter: @kay_bruner

 

Should I be doing more? Should I be trying harder? Setting more goals? Pushing myself? But all I see is the fatigue. My greatest regrets are the times I tried too hard, pushed myself too much, worked too hard, and didn’t give myself room for me and my own needs. I look back at 27 years of health struggles, anxiety, and adrenal fatigue. While, granted, some of that simply is genetics and the way my body is – part of me has been wondering how much of it was caused by pushing myself academically, musically, and spiritually to give God my very best? —Aprille Donaldson, “Beautiful in His Time”, Twitter: @beautyinhistime

 

I have now become that parent with the kid in his underwear at a birthday party because he flatly refuses to wear pants. This would never have been an option for the other kids.
Maybe I’m going soft, maybe I’m worn out, or maybe I’m learning to choose my battles. I’m certainly learning something about grace, about letting go of measuring myself by someone else’s yardstick.
—Aleah Marsden, “Depth of the Riches” Twitter: @Marsdenmom

 

“Why didn’t she write about the wars going on?” cried my professor. “Why didn’t she espouse more principles of feminism?”…It seems to me, in my limited literary studies, that these types of questions are restricted to female writers. Would you ever ask why Shakespeare wasted his time writing about star-crossed lovers when he could have been writing treatises on the common rights of men? Why is the onus on women—particularly women who we don’t actually have any control over because they’re long dead—to write about “important” things? —Bridget @ “Dog-Eared & Dog-Tagged” Twitter: @thebookishmilso

 

An ENFJ offends the Conservatives because he spoke kindly of LGBTs. Naturally, the Liberals were pleased, but the Conservatives are mad because that’s not what the GOP wants. Most of the Millennials are already alienated since their Love Language isn’t given enough merit in our weekly practices… Eventually, a Focus Group will be put together to dissect why all the perfectly separated sub-groups can’t get along even though they’re rarely encouraged interact. —Mitch Rouse, “Church: Labels Required, Bibles Optional”, Twitter: @MitchRoush

 

So why do young adults who grew up in the church leave? Because the welcome at the local coffee shop is warmer than that in my local church. Because the women’s bible study is during the work day, the mentorship program focuses on homemaking, and the small groups are full. If you ask me the answer is not in more ministries and programs but more people simply reaching out to other people: making lunch plans, building a relationship, being available to answer those hard questions. Simply being available to talk about life. —Sian Taylor, “To the People in the Church Pews” , Twitter: @SKTaylor2

 

Just because guys from decades ago didn’t have stylists and manscaping and Annie Leibovitz doesn’t mean they were mediocre in the looks department. Check out a young Theodore Roosevelt. Umm, YES, Mr. President. Our moms and grandmas had it good, y’all.
—Kendra Adachi, “The Sugar Box” Twitter: @hiitskendra

 

I’ve been present when such devastating news has been delivered. When the hot coal of truth was passed to a child, searing the tender soul and leaving an indelible scar. I remember wanting to stretch those last moments of blissful naivety into years, where innocence could romp and play through the fields of childhood. Yet the hard realities of the world had intervened. I had no control…“But we have to go on, Mom,” she said to me. “We can’t just quit, or we’ll never know what happens. It has to get better. We just have to get through the hard part.” —Julie Silander, “Greener Trees”, Twitter: @juliesilander

 

I am a welfare mom. If there is over-priced, highly processed, completely unhealthy food in our cart, then you complain about the state financially supporting unhealthy lifestyles. But you have no idea why that food is in our cart. None at all. If there is organic food, tons of produce, and healthy meats in our cart, then you complain that people on welfare eat better than those who buy their own groceries. So what kind of food would you approve of us buying? I’d like to know. You don’t approve of government programs at all. That’s fine. Would you like my family to eat the grass in our front yard? Are you offering my husband a job that would support our family? What solution do you have for the fact that I don’t have enough money to buy food for my family? —anonymous on “The Land of Curly Hair”

Why it’s important to delete unkind blog comments and block abusive users

This past week I received a particularly nasty email which made me question whether blogging was worth it. It made me wonder whether I should continue writing at all. It made me wonder why I put my heart out in public. This led to a brief (but terrifying) bout of panic wherein I wondered if blogging was dead.

And then I realized I was giving away my power by allowing one stupid-ass email to determine how I chose to live my life. This incident reminded me why I’ve made the decision to delete and block people who leave unkind comments on my site. I thought I’d share that decision-making process with you.

After I finished writing my book and saw it published and sent out into the world, I began experiencing a new kind of freedom: the freedom to honor myself and what I’d accomplished.

Not only had I overcome an abusive childhood, I had built a new life for myself. I had cried my tears, I had said my piece, I had honored my story. It was time for me to stop acting like I was just renting my life and really own it.

A strange thing began to happen: the more I owned my life and honored myself, the less willing I was to be treated dishonorably by others. The more I owned my story, the less willing I was to answer baiting questions, defend myself against accusations or explain myself to people who didn’t deserve my time.

The farther I removed myself from fundamentalism, the less I wanted to engage people who still acted like fundamentalists—Christian or otherwise. In fact, I found that it was a waste of my precious energy to engage anyone who treated me disrespectfully or used manipulative, shaming language in my comment box or via email.

As much as I wanted to help people, I began to realize that I couldn’t rescue or save everyone. Heck, I could barely save myself. Just like I’ve had to do the hard work of recovery, those who want freedom will have to do their work, too. The best way to help others is to continue taking care of myself. The best way to change the world for good is to move forward—regardless of whether others approve or come along with me.

Sometimes courage means moving forward alone.

For most of my life, I’ve doubted my voice. I’ve been so insecure at times that I wouldn’t make decisions without polling everyone around me and receiving permission.

As I’ve done the hard work of recovery, I’ve learned how to love myself. I’ve learned how to trust myself. I’ve learned how to honor myself and protect myself. Best of all, I’ve learned (and am learning!) how to APPROVE of myself!

One practical result of this has been that I delete and block any unkind comments or rude behavior on my website. I don’t need unkind voices in my comment box because those voices make it hard for me to hear my own voice. Mean voices only have power if I give them power. Honoring myself means not squandering my power on energy-vampires.

Honoring my own voice means spending more time and energy on positive voices. I’ve done enough moderating to know when someone is genuinely curious or just itching for a fight.

I’ve built this blog. I’ve created this space. Why should I dishonor what I’ve created by allowing others to crap on my lawn?

Furthermore, I’ve begun to realize that I owe it to my readers to create a safe place. If I allow others to beat me up in my own space, then YOU won’t feel safe here, either. It’s really important for women to see other women standing up for themselves and honoring their own lives. Because we live in a society that routinely pits women against each other, I find it doubly important for women to feel safe with other women. If we’re going to counteract this culture, we women need to create safe spaces for each other.

And that starts with me taking care of myself. So, if you write a mean email or leave an unkind comment on my blog, it will be summarily deleted. Without explanation. On the big posts, I won’t even see the mean words because I’ve hired a friend to moderate comments.

I finally value what I think of myself more than what others think of me.

And THAT, my friends? THAT feels like true freedom.

 

10 Reasons Why Blogging Is Better (for me) Than Facebook; aka “Blog’s Not Dead and Neither is my Blogging!”

Awwww, thanks friends for all your feedback on my “Is Blogging Dead?” post. I really appreciated it. Here’s what I learned from you:

  1. People like reading blogs precisely BECAUSE a blog ISN’T Facebook.
  2. Blogs provide anonymity for commenters who want to weigh in on topics while protecting their privacy.
  3. A blog is a better medium for good writing—and since good writing is what I value MOST, it makes more sense for me to stay right here. (Thankfully, YOU appreciate good writing, too!).
  4. Facebook and social media are better mediums for off-the-cuff commentary. Render unto Facebook what is Facebook’s and render unto Blog what is Blog’s, amen?
  5. A blog gives me sole ownership of my content and honors my hard work in producing high-quality material. YOU DON’T OWN ME, FACEBOOK!
  6. A thousand likes on Facebook doesn’t necessarily indicate quality content; ie. just because Kim Kardashian’s butt goes viral doesn’t mean she produced art. SO THERE.
  7. A loyal, thoughtful readership is FAR more valuable to me than being “popular on Facebook.” (Why? See #6 above). Over the years, my blog readers have challenged my thinking, helped me process new ideas, offered support and provided helpful suggestions.
  8. Blog comments are generally more thoughtful. If someone is taking the time to login to Disqus and compose a reply it’s because they genuinely care about what I’ve written and they want to thoughtfully engage other commenters.
  9. Facebook comments don’t necessarily indicate loyalty—the new algorithms on Facebook attract random trolls who have never read my writing and yet feel free to crap all over my FB page just because they don’t like ONE of my opinions.
  10. And most importantly, I feel safer on my blog than I do on Facebook. So, I’m gonna stay right here and keep on writin’ no matter WHAT the rumors say about Blogs Dying and Whatnot! SO THERE. Ah-men and Ah-meen.

Is blogging dead?

I’ve heard rumors that blogging is dying. Some of my favorite bloggers are shuttering their blogs. Others are taking long breaks. The other day my 13 year old son announced that YouTube and podcasts and Instagram are where The Internet Is Happening Now.

That got me thinking: why am I still blogging? And is blogging dead?

I started my blog 8 years ago this month and back then, people read blogs the old fashioned way—on their computers. Not on their tablets. Or smart phones. Comment boxes pulled in 50-100+ comments easily.

In 2007, there was money in blogging. Or so I heard. That never really happened for me. I was content just to have basic operating expenses covered. I wasn’t interested in becoming an Official Mommy Blog. I never saw blogging as a business. My brain just doesn’t think that way.

I blogged for the connections, the conversation, the fleshing out of ideas, the sense of community. I wanted to practice my writing. And I’d always wanted to write a book. I hoped that by writing great content I’d attract an agent and someday write a book. And yes, I landed an agent and a book deal. Goal accomplished.

Turns out, my timing was fortuitous. I started my blog during The Golden Age of Blogging: 2006-2012.

In 2006, Twitter was just a baby, Tumblr wasn’t even born and Instagram wouldn’t show up for another 4 years. Facebook was still mostly used by teenagers and college kids. The point is, it was easier to build my online platform and garner thousands of subscribers through blogging because I wasn’t competing with other social media outlets.

But here we are in 2014 and things have changed. Blogging isn’t what it used to be.

First of all, conversations have moved to Facebook. I fought this for awhile. But it was a losing battle. Why would readers register their email and login to Disqus when they could easily like, reply and share stuff on FB?

I now realize that if I want to start a conversation, I need to go where the people are. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve run a mini-experiment: I’ve posted regular length blogs posts on FB. The feedback has been at least triple what I’ve been getting here on my blog. And the reach of my posts has been quadruple the reach I get here. That was eyeopening like WHOA.

As recently as two years ago, blogging was still the most efficient and immediate way to start conversations and gain new readers. These days, a traditional blog post takes 24 hrs. to get the kind of traction Facebook gives me in one hour. I mean, even Instagram gives me more likes and comments these days than my blog does!

I’ve made another mistake, too. And it’s a big one. I didn’t build an email list. I thought that was old-school. I thought RSS readers were more important. But now, my RSS feed is so wonky and broken, it doesn’t even send out my posts reliably. If I’d built my list from people who have commented on my blog over the years, I’d have more than 30,000 email addresses by now.

I actually want to cry about that mistake. It was a huge missed opportunity. And guess what? Years ago, my husband advised me to build an email list. He’s in marketing and knows email lists are like gold. But I didn’t listen because I was a BLOGGER, brave new world, blah-blah-blergh.

If I had an email list, then maybe the demise of blogging wouldn’t be so discouraging.

I dunno, maybe I’m just feeling all irrelevant and disillusioned and glum. Here’s one comfort: even if blogging dies, I did make something of my writing: I wrote a book. And I want to keep writing books. But how will I convince a publisher I still have a valuable online platform if blogging is dying?

Well, maybe I should do what I should have done 8 years ago: build an email list.

Or do a podcast. Or make YouTube videos. Sigh. Can an old blogger learn new tricks?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go share this post on Facebook.

UPDATED TO ADD: you can find my Author Facebook Page HERE. :)

Book Giveaway: “Inseparable” by Ashley Linne

inseparable coverFor many years I’ve been wary of Bible Study-type books. But this past October, I found myself desperate to see myself as God sees me. Ashley Linne’s new book, “Inseparable: who I am, was, and will be in Christ”, intrigued me. All I can say is that this beautiful, gentle exposition of who I am in Christ nurtured my aching soul at just the right time. I’m honored to host Ashley on my blog today. If you’d like to receive a free copy of “Inseparable,” please leave a comment for a chance to win. xo. EE.

 

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I was raised in competing faith traditions that both focused largely on perfecting oneself through good, old-fashioned strength of will. Ironically, even though each of these faiths points to the other and calls it apostate, both sent me the same message: you’d better be good and believe what we tell you, or God will smite you.

There are a couple of memories that stand out to me as I was growing up, torn between these two worlds. One day, when I was about eight years old, I was talking with an adult about shortcomings. At some point in the conversation I said that no one is perfect. The reply was, “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be.” I took this to mean that unless I tried to be perfect, I couldn’t be saved.

At another junction not far down the road, the war between the two faith traditions came to a head via an unsuspecting woman who was a “counselor” for those who went forward at church during the altar call. I sat with the woman and shared that one side of my family followed a certain religious ideology, and she replied that they were all going to hell and I would, too, if I believed what they were teaching.

I remember staring at the blue carpet and crying. I didn’t know whom to believe.

Even though I’m now firmly rooted in my relationship with God and learning to grasp grace more each day, I find myself tangled in a different sort of struggle. What if by focusing on God’s love, I somehow imply that there isn’t any value in holy living? What if people think I offer a cheap grace?

Rather than obsessing about whether I’m doing things right, I have learned to focus on listening for the voice of the Spirit. Otherwise, it’s just too easy for me to hold Jesus at arms’ length and get sucked into the frozen state of fear.

When I say that, “If I err, I want to err on the side of grace”, it doesn’t mean I have lax standards or don’t value holiness. It means that I know God, and because I am in Christ, I have already been made holy. In light of my own humanity and my battle against the flesh, instead of making me proud this makes me grateful.

When I was desperate to have control of my own life, Christ died for me and made me holy.
When I refused to depend on anyone but myself, Christ died for me and made me holy.
When I holed myself up in a cave of fear, Christ died for me and made me holy.

He died and raised from the dead, and now I live in Him. In Him I am holy, blameless, forgiven, accepted, and loved to depths and heights that I haven’t even discovered yet.

THIS is why I seek His face above all else. I don’t seek to be perfect. I seek HIM.

I seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, because He is faithful and gracious and loving. I seek Him. And I do it with a limp, I do it with wounds that aren’t scarred over yet, I do it imperfectly… but I do it knowing I am in Christ and He is in me. I know that even when I stray or revert to my old ways of thinking, He’s not going to cast me aside for messing up.

In His grace, He will sustain me through the pain of refinement as He chisels away parts of me that shouldn’t be there. I’ve learned that this chiseling is just another aspect of His grace. As I follow His movement and participate in His work, I am His representative to a world gone mad.

What will they see when they look at me? A crazy woman? Perhaps. I do hope they see something that perplexes them, but I hope it is because they’ve seen a living, breathing example of real love.

I hope that they see a glimpse of Christ. And I pray that anything that doesn’t look like Him would be scrubbed away.

For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:19-21, NLT)

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Ashley Linne CroppedAshley Linne is a wife and mom who loves to write, sing, and travel. She is passionate about discipleship, mentoring, and sexual abuse prevention. She has been leading small group Bible studies for over 15 years is the author of Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ. Ashley lives with her husband and son in Bellingham, WA.

Excerpt from “Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ” by Ashley Linne. Download a FREE Chapter from all three new Inscribed Studies Here. (No email required)