Processing all the conversations and information that I absorbed in 3 days, I realized that I left the Relevant Conference with answers. I gained confirmation, direction & boundaries. Here are the questions I brought to Relevant and the answers I was given...
Is blogging a worthwhile endeavor for me?
The first night we listened to Tsh Oxenreider from the Simple Mom share her "becoming a blogger" story. She gave me the answer to my first question.
She shared the quote by Sir Ken Robinson: "Your element is the intersection of when your skills and your passions collide." She discovered that blogging is her element and when she is in that element she finds God's pleasure.
What are the skills God has given you? What passions has He given you? Find where the two of those collide & you will be in your element experiencing His pleasure.
For me, I have been gifted in the ability to assimilate information and communicate about it to others. I am passionate about God and ministering to women. Right now, in this season, those collide on the pages of my blog.
How do I handle the challenges of being vulnerable on my blog?
The next morning I went to a session on "Upside-down blogging" with Courtney of Women Living Well, Amy Lynn Andrews of Blogging with Amy (she gets a whole post...she is such a wonderful person), & Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience.
The premise of the session was that true fame in blogging is not painting a pretty picture of your life that does not resemble the reality. That the fame God desires is one in which we bear our brokenness and through our writing draw others to Him.
During Q/A time I asked for advice on being vulnerable/real in our writing & having those we "do life with" (family, friends) assume they know the whole story, that they own a piece of your soul, or even hold you to a different standard?
Due to my sobbing, I have a hard time remembering what exactly the answer was. But if my memory serves me well, I think Ann turned to look at Amy. Amy took the microphone and said it was hard. That sharing our hearts was a sacrifice. That Jesus had similar difficulties during His ministry with those from His hometown.
After the session, while I re-applied make-up, I processed all I had heard that resonated with what I desire:
- writing as a spiritual discipline
- the person God is ministering to is me
- admitting I don't have the answers & directing readers to God
- staying in the Word (if I am "not gathering manna I have no manna to give"),
- intentionally destroying idols in my life that affect what God is trying to do
- be authentic to myself...it is a vertical experience.
I looked up and the line that had formed to talk with Ann was down to one. Even though my heart said, "just let her be," I moved toward her because her manner is gentle, kind & Christ-like. It is not her fame (a term she rejects, by the way) but her nature. You can't help but be drawn to true humility.
In the moment I shared with Ann, she confirmed that she understood my question. She encouraged me to not give up, to continue to sacrifice, to remember it is a vertical experience between myself & God and not to be distracted by the horizontal (onlookers, readers, my idols).
It was through that conversation that I felt confirmation that this blogging experience is a vertical refining for me. It is healing. It is helping me stay on course to rid myself of self-centeredness and continue the relentless pursuit of God as my center.
I am most unhappy when I look at the numbers...site views, comments, followers. Paralyzed when I worry about what others want to hear and not what God wants for me to hear. If I could remember the idea of this being a vertical experience, then that can be my filter for each decision I make regarding blogging.
What steps do I need to take to maintain a healthy balance between writing & my family?
The next day I went to session on maintaining integrity with our families while we write about our families. Sally Clarkson of I Take Joy, gave me the advice I needed.
She quoted Proverbs saying that "a wise woman builds her house, a foolish woman with her own hands tears it down". She desired to build an estate. In order to build an estate she needed a plan. Her plan included a "grid" in her brain...her priorities are her husband, her walk with God and her children. When an opportunity comes her way, she evaluates how it affects her "grid."
It helped me to visually imagine a filter through which my choices must come through. How will this affect my marriage? my relationship with God? my ability to be with my children? She said that if you have your "grid" or filter in order, you will disappoint people (oh how freeing to hear!). The world is full of good things that will draw you awa if you don't have a plan or grid.
My Relevant answers:
My giftedness & my passion collide into my element when I'm blogging. My enjoyment comes from remembering this is a vertical refining process between me & God and not to become concerned with the horizontal (my idol of people pleasing). My filter will help me set healthy boundaries of what opportunities to say "yes" & "no" to and allow me to be a woman of integrity.
Confirmation. Direction. Boundaries.
Thank you Lord for speaking clearly to me this past weekend. Thank you for bringing me to the place you wanted me to be and for answering the questions that had been heavy on my heart. Thank you for these 3 women who humbly serve You. Thank you for their desire to know You more and to make you known. Lord keep me accountable to these things. To continue to serve you, to be refined by you and to serve my family before all others. Amen.