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Reflections on 10 Years of Blogging

Today is my 10th anniversary blogging. On March 26th, 2006 I set up a free blog in three easy steps and wrote the following simple post:

It’s sunday morning and the house is getting ready for church. Why is it that the whole household can be up, ready and out the door by 8:00 Monday thru Friday, but  on Sunday you can’t make it to church on time by 11:00? <sigh> One of life’s little mysteries.

That was the beginning of my journey. Ten years and 3,412 blog posts later, I’m still going. I am not, by most people in the blogosphere’s standards, the definition of success. I haven’t made a fortune. My number of subscribers remains very meager. I have about 240 subscribers through WordPress and a reach that extends to a couple thousand people through Facebook and Twitter. On a typical day my blog gets about 150-200 views.

On this 10th anniversary I’ve been looking back and reflecting on what I’ve learned in my blogging experience. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Know your motivation. My blog has always had a very simple motivation. I just want to write about my life journey. I want to record my thoughts and experiences on different subjects. I want to share what’s going on with family and friends. As time has gone on I realize that my blog serves as a diary and a record. It will be an accessible archive for children, grandchildren and future generations of my experiences and my heartfelt thoughts. I have come to accept that my blog will never generate tons of subscribers simply because not that many people know me or are interested in my vacation pictures.
  • Know your content focus. Your motivation determines your content. The vast majority of my posts over the past decade have been my chapter-a-day posts. If I was really trying to establish my blog as an inspirational of devotional blog I would center my blog on those posts and reserve my personal journal, theatre, and photography posts elsewhere. My motivation, however, is for my blog to be a repository of my personal thoughts and experiences. My chapter-a-day posts are simply a record of my thoughts in my own daily quiet time. I’m not trying to preach to anyone or market myself as an author. I’m just sharing my daily, personal thoughts after reading a chapter of the Bible. My blog is a wide-angle lens on my life and it includes all kinds of different posts. A blogging expert would tell me that my wide range limits my audience, but my motivation has never been to build a big audience. I just want to express myself.
  • Just write. According to a NYTimes article, 95% of blogs are abandoned. I’ve known many who have started a blog, but after a post or two they walk away from it just like the Ab Cruncher they purchased ten years ago and used twice. I would argue that most people stop blogging because they aren’t really motivated, they struggle to know what they want to say. I think many people get discouraged that the world does not beat a path to their URL. Blogging requires a certain amount of fortitude. You’re going to write a lot of crap that no one wants to read. Keep writing. Post regularly. Be content with a few followers. The first six years of my blog I averaged about 15-20 views a day. It’s only in the past few years that it’s grown ten-fold. I’ve come to accept that blogging is about the journey, not the destination.
  • You never know what’s going to resonate. I have written a lot of really great posts, at least I thought they were profound. Virtually no one reads them. They never “get legs.” Then, I’ll post a random thought hastily typed and with little consideration and it will start to generate all sorts of traffic. I’ve given up trying to judge or prognosticate.
  • The rewards are not what I thought they’d be. I will confess that I, like most aspiring bloggers, have pipe dreams of my blog becoming wildly popular. I regularly talk myself off that ledge and laugh at myself. I then remind myself of everything I’ve written in this post thus far. The rewards I’ve reaped from my blogging journey are not what I expected, but I consider them to be priceless:
    • I’ve become a better writer. When I go back and read some of my chapter-a-day posts from the early years I regularly cringe. They were so short. The thoughts are undeveloped. Ugh! The contrast, however, serves to remind me that writing 3,412 posts is going to make me a better writer. I value that.
    • I’ve met some really great people. From my early blogging mentor, Mike Sansone, to people like Terry, Samantha, Jonathan, Michael, and David. My blog has opened up opportunities at relationships and networking I might otherwise have never had.
    • I have built an online personal reference source. What year was it that we took that trip to Cooperstown? Do you remember what year we performed Much Ado About Nothing? My blog makes it much easier to find definitive answers. Trivial, perhaps, but I value it.
    • I’m leaving a legacy. Those most close to me, my family and my friends, will have a record of my life experiences and my thoughts that will live beyond me. I sometimes think of my love of family history and how much I wish I had a journal of my great-great-grandfather to learn what life was like for him, what he thought, and what he felt. Perhaps I will have a great-great grandson or granddaughter who will appreciate my little blog. Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to have a positive impact on their lives.
    • I occasionally make a difference in someone’s day. Every once in a while I’ll get a message or an e-mail saying something like, “Thanks. I needed your post today.” Rarely do I get to know how or why. It’s nice to know, though. I’m grateful when people tell me, and it helps motivate me to keep going.

Thanks to those of you who follow along on this journey. Thanks to those who stop by now and then. Thanks especially to Wendy and Kevin R. who regularly discuss, respond, and encourage. Here’s to the next decade!

Posts about Sex, Marriage, & Intimacy

On Remember When Wednesdays I typically look back at older posts across my ten years of blogging and re-post them for newer readers of my blog. Of late, I’ve been taking the opportunity to create a few topical lists of my chapter-a-day posts.

They say that “sex sells,” so I’ll be really interested how the stats on this post fare😉 For today’s Remember When Wednesday, I’ve put together a list of my posts that reference sex (in a very broad, topical sense of the word).

The Art and Progression of Sexual Intimacy (Song of Songs 5)
Sexual Healing
I’m “Unclean.” If You Know What I Mean (wink, wink)
Of Twisties and Pantry Lights
Burning Down the House
A Hint of Paradise (Song of Songs 1)
With Nobody Else But Me (Song of Songs 2)
Meeting the Parents (Song of Songs 3)
Sensually Good (Song of Songs 4)
Browsing Among the Lilies (Song of Songs 6)
A Case for Delayed Gratification (Song of Songs 7)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Song of Songs 8)
We’re All Suckers for a Love Story
A Raving Fan of the Fairer Sex
Enjoy the Dance
Five Things That Irritate You About the Opposite Sex
Captivated
Profanity, Obscenity and Swearing
God’s X-Rated Word Pictures
Appetites and Maturity
Delicacies and Darkness
Chapter-a-Day Song of Songs 2
Chapter-a-Day Leviticus 18
Chapter-a-Day Song of Solomon 7
Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 9
Chapter-a-Day Ephesians 5

 

A Few Blog Posts on Parenting, Family, & Fatherhood

This morning I received an unexpected phone call from a friend who is having some struggles with his kids. We chatted for a few minutes and I tried to provide a little encouragement from a waypoint just a bit further down life’s road. He texted me a few minutes later and said, “You should write a book for Dad’s raising daughters.”

Well, that was a very kind thing to say, though I don’t know there’s a publisher out there who wants to pay me to write that book. It did, however, get me to thinking that I have written a few things on the subject over the past ten years. So, for Remember When Wednesday, here are a bunch of posts I’ve written on Parenting, Fatherhood, and Family over the years. A lot of these posts are simple morning musings, so please don’t expect a thorough “How To” in there. These are in no certain order (sorry). Also, this is not an exhaustive list, so you can always search for topics on my blog’s homepage.

Cheers! I hope there’s a worthwhile nugget or two in here:

Top 10 Blog Posts Published in 2014

Yesterday I shared the Top 10 viewed posts in 2014, regardless of when the post was published. Today, from the home office in Pella, Iowa, I’d like to share the Top 10 blog posts I published in 2014. Perhaps you missed a few. Enjoy!

  1. You Heard Right…We’re Moving
  2. “There are No Wrong Notes”
  3. A Recap and Review of our Caribbean Cruise
  4. 10 Ways I Tried NOT to Exasperate Our Children
  5. Joy of the Dance
  6. Blind Spots
  7. The Courage to Audition
  8. “Yes, You Can.”
  9. The Prodigal’s Lesson for Parents
  10. Throwback Thursday: Before Pella’s Tulip Time

My Payment for these Posts

hired.
(Photo credit: jakebouma)

Chapter-a-Day 1 Corinthians 9

If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News. 1 Corinthians 9:17-18 (NLT)

Four or five years ago I was approached by a publisher who wanted to make a book out of my chapter-a-day posts. I won’t lie to you. I was thrilled and flattered. Being an author has always been a bit of a dream. At that point in this blogging journey I’d just about blogged on every chapter of the New Testament, so I quickly made plans to package that for publication as a book of devotional thoughts. I made preliminary arrangements with the publisher, hired an editor and began the task of compiling and cleaning up the material.

When the contract came from the publisher and I began to read it through, I suddenly woke up to the hard reality of the situation. I would be signing over the rights to the material in all of those posts to the publisher. I would have to delete each one from my blog and take them off-line. I would no longer have any control of the content. It would be the publishers material to package and sell as they wished, and it would no longer be in my hands.

I will never forget the conversation Wendy and I had that day. It was Wendy who saw the obvious and did not hesitate to answer. “I think your posts reach far more people than you realize,” she said to me. She then told me directly that she felt that it was the wrong decision to package and sell what has been, and should be, freely given. She was right and I knew it as soon as the words left her lips. Just like Paul relates in today’s chapter, I was called to proclaim God’s Message [which is another story I’ve been reminded that I need to share in a post someday – thank you, Kevin]. I am compelled.

Perhaps I will still realize my dream of being an author someday. It will not, however, be my chapter-a-day posts. I threw away the publisher’s contract that day and told them I was respectfully declining their offer. The posts would remain on-line and freely available to anyone who cares to read them. My payment is the simple knowledge that you’re reading these words.

Chapter-a-Day Index Now Available!

Over the past six years, as I’ve been blogging my chapter-a-day journey through each book of God’s Message, I’ve occasionally had people tell me that they would like the ability to quickly reference my posts on a specific book or chapter. Because the posts are spread out across time and I haven’t exactly been logical in the order with which we’ve wandered through, it makes hunting through the categories or archives of the blog a bit of a crazymaker. There is a search feature on the sidebar of the blog site, but even I admit that a search for a direct reference will often fail to come up with the obvious, desired result.

Over the past few months my daughter, Madison, has been working on a project for me to list and hyperlink every chapter-a-day post into an easily referenced table. You can access it in at least two easy ways:

  • Follow this link and then bookmark the page for quick access from your web browser’s bookmark bar or menu.
  • Go to the main blog site and then look just below the header image at the top of the page where it says “Chapter-a-Day Index.” The index will always be available by clicking on that link.

I hope that this provides people with easier access to old posts. Please let me know if you have problems or experience a broken link.

Enjoy!

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 18

Thank You Trash...
Thank You Trash… (Photo credit: Daniel Slaughter)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 18:1 & 29 (NLT)

Wendy and I found ourselves in conversation yesterday about our blessings. We were discussing a person whose Facebook posts seem endlessly full of “glass half empty” angst at how difficult life is for them. It prompted a great discussion between us about blessing and thanksgiving. Even looking back at my blog posts and Facebook posts, I think about what they say about my attitudes in every day life. I’ve been griping a lot about the travel industry lately as I’ve gotten delayed and rerouted in my business travels. It’s so easy to fall into griping mode in my momentary frustration and ignore the fact that I’m so grateful for a great job and wonderful clients who hire me.

Everyone’s life is full of hardship on different levels, and we all need to vent once in a while when we’re feeling burdened. God tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. But, even when I’m going through a tough time I try to remind myself each and every day how abundantly blessed I am. In a land where Thanksgiving is celebrated as a once a year holiday, I attempt to celebrate it every day in my spirit through my prayers and my attitude.

Today, I’m thankful for the abundant blessings I take for granted. Things like life, health, safety, home, loving family, wonderful friends, good community, clean water, food, air conditioning, and choices.