Blogging with Purpose

cropped-img_80384.jpg

To be honest, I almost didn’t post today. I almost broke my fairly regular cadence of Tuesday/Thursday blog posts out of mere busyness and lack of true inspiration. This week has just gotten the better of me — social commitments have had me slacking on my workouts, work has me exhausted (in the good way! but still…), and I didn’t plan well for blog content. I didn’t want to post just for the sake of posting, so I wasn’t going to do it at all.

And then it struck me: there’s my post.

Diving into the blogger world, I’ve realized that it can be so easy to be insincere, not genuine. With all of the sponsored posts that keep blogs going, a battle for visibility within the algorithms, and so much more, it can be tempting to post just to post. I’ll admit — I’ve done it, and I’m fooling myself if I think I won’t do it again.

But I try, so hard, to avoid it. Why? Because that’s not at all what I started on this blogging journey for.

The other day, someone asked me a question.

“What is your blog about?”

I had to pause, for a moment, before offering a rambling response of: “It’s a lifestyle blog. Well, a faith-based lifestyle blog. Well, no. Kind of a faith-mixed-with-lifestyle blog. I’m still trying to figure it out.”

And while that’s true, it still got me thinking. What is this blog about?

I always said that I didn’t ever want to blog just to blog. I wanted to write things that have meaning to me – whether that meaning stems from pure interest or curiosity, or whether it’s something a bit deeper like faith. I never wanted to write just to spew some words out there. I live by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s motto:

You don’t write because you want to say something,
you write because you have something to say.

So as I pondered the question, I started perusing my own feeds. I started looking for the people and bloggers whose content I admire the most, who I look up to and admire in this crazy, saturated blogging sphere.

I noticed that my favorites were the ones with stories to tell. Not only stories, but their own truths. I am the biggest fan of real-life rawness, and I am so in awe of people who are vulnerable enough to share those moments with the world.

So that, I’ve decided, is what I want to tell people my blog is about:

Real life.

That’s not to say I won’t work with sponsors or affiliates. That’s not to say that I won’t occasionally post just to post — but I’m going to try to avoid it.

This is my pledge to you, my readers, that I will continue to blog with the utmost purpose. I will not hide details for the sake of making my life look more “shiny.” I will not shy away from the tough stuff. I urge you, whether you’re a blogger or a reader or just a random passerby, to live your life with that same mantra.

Can we do that, together? Can we promise to be real, and purposeful, and intentional?

I pray that we can. I pray that I can. And I pray that you continue to offer me the grace of your listening ears (or… I guess… your reading eyes?)

Testimony Tuesday: Keeping Still

The Lord will fight for you,
and you have only to keep still.

– Exodus 14:14

Keeping still.

It’s never been my strongest attribute.

I fidget, constantly. I play with my hair, gnaw at my nails, tap my foot. I do almost anything to keep from keeping still, actually.

And yet, in the grander scheme of things, it has so seemed like that’s exactly what the Lord is asking me to do right now. Keep still, He whispers to me. I feel called to keep still in life, in location, in all of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see this as a bad thing. In fact, I’m fairly certain that this is the most still I’ve felt in ages… perhaps my entire life, though I only have twenty-three years to base that judgement off of.

I feel like your twenties are such an uncertain, ever changing age. Perhaps we don’t all face the hostilities of Moses and his people as they fled from Egypt, but we can all learn from it. I feel like there’s some sort of metaphor there…

As if, in our twenties, we are inclined, even tempted, to flee from our childhoods, and whatever we may associate with it. For some, that’s a town, or a mindset, or a relationship. But the Lord, ever so gently, so wisely, is urging us to keep still. Don’t be rash. Pray. Trust.

He will continue to fight for us, for the life He knows we ought to live.

I know the conflicted feeling so well – the feeling of wanting to go one way, but feeling as if you should go another. It’s in that conflict that I hear the Lord. He is the one on my heart telling me what I should do, and right now, I’m in a season on stillness. And even though I might have friends galavanting across foreign countries, or whisking away into the wilderness, or jumping head-first into some other terrifying, thrilling thing… the Lord is calling me to keep still.

To stay put.

To listen.

To trust.

And you know what?

That is perfectly okay. 

I resign myself to it, to His will, to listening, and to obeying. I resign myself to keeping still.

For all I know, stillness may end up being the best gift He’s ever given me.

Take Care

I think we can all agree: this week has been a long one.

When the week begins with tragic, heartbreaking news, and you go reeling into Monday with the weight of the world on your shoulders, it is impossible to feel on track. Maybe that’s just me, but most people I’ve spoken with this week have had the same undeniable burden of grief and sadness bearing down on them.

As Monday went on, blurred by breaking news and consumed with a devastating sense of loss, the shock wore off and the anger set in: anger at the state of our broken world, anger at the undeniable truth that something in our system is wrong, anger at the general divisiveness we see even on a day of overwhelming grief.

Tuesday came and suddenly reality hit again. Our world has to keep turning even in the wake of tragedy, and for many, that means pulling our bootstraps up and plodding along through work and the things that may have been on pause as we reacted. For others, that means diving even deeper into tragedy as they continue to cover, investigate, and rebuild. (I’d like to take a moment here to thank them for their resilience and bravery.)

This week has gotten me thinking about self care; in particular, how we often neglect it when we’re dealing with heavy things. Whether it’s on a national level or a more personal one, it’s easy to keep yourself busy and distracted rather than pause to process and protect yourself from further damage by taking the time to mend, rest, and heal.

But it is ever so important — perhaps more so, in times of great loss, than ever.

We each have our own idea of what self care looks like. For me, it often involves a large glass of wine and a good book, or a British baking show, and probably some chocolate. It involves long hugs from my boyfriend and time spent with loved ones, just to remind myself that there is good in this world and they are my favorite example of it, and cuddles with the cat, who (feisty as she may be) is a regular reminder of the innocence all around us. It involves reflection and prayer. It occasionally involves a long, hard run to sweat out all the toxins and frustrations I’ve got pulsing through me that day.

So as this long, heavy week comes to a close, I implore you: take a time out. Take a moment and take a breath.

Take care of yourself.

You’re important.

According to Plan

Isn’t it funny how, even in the midst of everything going perfectly well, the tiniest bump in the road can make us feel like our entire plan has just been thrown off the back of a horse?

As much as I fancy myself spontaneous, the truth is: I like plans. I enjoy structure. I come from a family that plans Christmas as far back as May, and I love them for it. I have three calendars: one on my kitchen wall, a day planner, and my virtual Outlook calendar, and I use all three to stay organized and on top of things. I really enjoy being able to look out a week, two weeks, a month, and see what I’ve got scheduled. I find a lot of comfort in that.

Of course, life doesn’t always let us do things that way. God’s got a funny way of letting us plan out our futures, and then sneaking in there and saying, “That’s nice and all, but what about if this happens?” And, of course, before He lets us think about it, that has already happened, and our perfectly planned out lives have gone haywire.

Or, at least, that’s how it feels for me, a lot of the time.

But what I’m slowly, but surely, learning is: haywire is not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, much of the time, what we see as the result of something unexpected happening is actually the wonderful thing that had been waiting for us all along. We just had to stop planning ahead long enough to see what was already happening.

Other times (or, often, at the same time), the result of the unexpected is very much what should have been happening in the first place. It’s so easy to look at our idea of how our lives should go, and completely disregard what God, or fate, or whatever form of guidance you look towards, already has in the works.

I am very much experiencing the latter right now. This season for me has been a little bit trying, as I’ve been grappling with what is expected of me, and what I want for my life at this moment.  Taking other people’s opinions out of it has been difficult, but as my best friend reminded me: “If you’re happy somewhere, be happy. Forget whoever questions it.” 

And you know what?

I am happy. 

I am blissfully, stupidly, unexpectedly happy. This might not be the same happiness I once planned on experiencing at this point in my life, but it is undeniably so, so, so much sweeter… because I have relinquished control, and I am trusting that this is exactly how it’s supposed to be, right now.

Who cares if it’s not “according to plan”?

The plan is meant to be changed, anyway.