It was then, with both exuberance and trepidation, that I gamely said yes to my friend Marcy’s invitation to climb aboard the summer blog hop and share space with her and other friends.
Marcy is someone I would run across the room to hug – and if you know anything of me from reading here, you’ll know that is no small feat. I don’t run. But I had been anticipating meeting Marcy at the 2014 Faith & Culture Conference this past Spring and we’d been Tweeting each other all day and night waiting to say hello. When I finally spied the lovely red-head across the room (I was so sure it was her), I sent another message and was pleased to see her head fly up; eyes searching the room as soon as she read it. It was a three hundred days and thirty steps to the most welcoming hug and we laughed the whole weekend long as our online friendship continued to blossom in real life.
Marcy is a tremendous advocate for adoption and infertility awareness and has authored two books that highlight this issue. Have a peek. You’ll adore her as much as I do.
She handed off the blog hop questions to me, and I’ll give them my very best. Although be forewarned: if you ask me the same questions six months from now, you may get entirely different answers! Except number three. That one will always remain the same.
I’ve actually been trying to take some intentional steps back recently and evaluate what I’m writing about and why. I’ve been looking for balance in my writing – largely because so much of it tends to be about the intense hard things. I think they’re important, but they’re not representative of the whole of my life (or any life), so I’ve been looking for things that are equally important, but perhaps not so heavy. To that end, I’ve been writing more about my family and things I enjoy – most recently cooking. I have a little more time in the summer and I’ve been relishing the ability to wander and dabble in my kitchen; creating new dishes; canning things; and generally making a fun, happy, delicious mess. I’m also working on organizing some long-term blog projects with the How They Blog Kit from Kat Lee. It’s a terrific resource and helps me focus and prioritize the writing on my blog.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m a lifestyle, faith-based writer – like many of my writing friends. So I’m not sure that my work differs that much. I think where you see the difference, is that we’re each writing from our own experiences; our own trials; our own discoveries of where God has led us and what He’s doing in our lives. I often feel called to write about what I consider the hard things: anger, living with chronic illness & disease, brokenness, and the areas where I fail and fall down. Several years ago when I began to find purpose in blogging, I committed to transparency and authenticity – even when it was hard. And it is hard. Sometimes there are things I don’t want to write and don’t want to say. But I trust that the Lord is leading me to those words for a purpose, and that those words will be used to bless and encourage others.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I started to segue into this with the last question. And I think it really comes down to this: the only reason I am at the place in my life that I am now; the only reason I have walked the through valleys and the deserts and come through on the other side; the only reason I continue to have joy and hope in my life in spite of and in the midst of difficult (and sometimes terrible) circumstances is because of God’s grace and mercies that have been poured out on my life. My life is not
perfect – far from it. I struggle with physical, emotional, and spiritual complications on a daily basis. But God is faithful and never leaves me alone with more than I can carry. My hope – especially in writing about the hard things – is that He will use my words and the work that He has done in my life to encourage others who are walking a difficult path who might feel they are without hope. If there is anything in what I write and what I share that will point them to the amazing, healing love of Christ, then I have done what I have been called to do.
4) How does my writing process work?
I’m not the world’s most organized blogger. I don’t have a set order of days that I write and post on. I used to try and do that, but that’s just not where my heart is right now. There are three main ways I work through my writing:
Prompts – the Five Minute Friday or Three Word Wednesday are probably the most frequent and consistent, but there are others I enjoy as well. The host of the link-up provides a word, phrase, or other kind of leading, and that’s what the writers write about (and then usually share). These are usually structured writing exercises that are (somewhat) spontaneous. I find a lot of my heart-writing pours out here when I just have to dive in and go. They’re also great building grounds for community.
Planned Posts/Series – When I have my organized hat on, I use Kat Lee’s How They Blog kit, (see, there I go, plugging it again) and get smart about creating arcs and themes for my work. I highly recommend the kit and the website as a resource for helping to focus your blogging and to streamline your process. I have a few in the works now, so you’ll have to check back and see what I’ve been ruminating on.
The “Why Nots” – Sometimes these are the most fun. The muse descends and I must write. I can’t tell you what the posts will be about or when to look for them, but sometimes my best writing happens just because.And there's a bit about me. But this is the really fun part.
This is where I get to introduce you to some pretty fabulous writer-friends and invite you into their spaces to hear their words and their stories.
Amy is a girl who lives in the grip of God’s grace. Her heart is to stitch together her past mistakes with His forgiveness to show the beautiful life He designed. The scrapes of her personal journey as wife, mother, writer, speaker and bible teacher is one that illustrates the faithfulness of God in the midst of challenges.
Amy lives in Alabama with her high school sweetheart, Mike. Her two grown children, Anthony and Samantha make her so proud every day.
Visit her blog to hear wonderful words of encouragement, join her on Facebook for fun, or connect with her on Twitter to keep up with the verses, thoughts, and insights she shares.
Amy and I met through the (in)courage and Five Minute Friday communities. As I discovered how real online friendships could be, our own friendship grew. At first we talked about pens, tea, and other favourite things, but over time, this relationship has grown to share pray requests, things that we carry in our hearts, and our hopes and dreams and where we pray the Lord takes us. If you are new to online friendships, I would encourage you that they can be as real and tangible and precious as the ones you share in your day-to-day life. I look forward to sitting down with Amy face-to-face one day over cups of iced tea (frankly, we may need more than one day!).
Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of three (soon to be four), an engineer’s wife, a lover of words, and encourager to women. She is a southern transplant from Tennessee living in Central Ohio. She writes over at Redemption Dairy about faith, family and lots of grace.
Visit her blog to hear wonderful words of encouragement, join her on Facebook for fun, or connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest - good stuff here!
Sarah is another (in)courage and Five Minute Friday friend (are you sensing a trend here – you’re so right!). When I first started reading at Sarah’s place, the thing that struck me the most was, “wow, the girl is willing to be so very open – about all the things.” Her story moves from one of a single mother who would watch other families in church and quietly nurse her hurting heart, to one of a woman loved and redeemed – both by the Lord and the man she adores (and who adores her back). She tells some hard stories and balances the fine line – never falling into self-pity – only into the hands of a loving God. Having lived some hard stories myself, I always love another writer who is willing to tell them and let His light shine through.
Sarah Jo Burch
Sarah Jo lives in the South and is rediscovering her sense of adventure with her handsome and hardworking husband and inquisitive daughter, and blogs (usually over a cup of tea) about faith, the everyday life of a wife and mum, loving her neighbors, gratitude, and knitting - with pictures between. You'll find her at Paper-Bark Burch, posting between dishes and rescuing a Small Person who just learned to climb.
Visit her blog to hear wonderful words of encouragement, join her on Facebook to follow Paper Bark Burch, or connect with her on Twitter to discover what she loves.
Sarah Jo is a beautiful, authentic spirit that I’ve met only recently. And yet it's beginning to feel like so much longer than "recent." This spring, we co-led an (in)courage small group called Art in Your Life with Karrilee, and I was so inspired by how Sarah Jo looks at the world. I keep discovering things we have in common: music by Lindsey Stirling, all things elvish, knitting, and counting thanks. She’s also from the part of the South where my mother’s family comes from, so there’s some more joy there! When you read Sara Jo’s blog, you’ll be struck by her willingness to be honest and vulnerable and will enjoy so many wonderful pictures of her life out and about and her darling little girl.
Hope you've enjoyed my leg of the blog hop. Each of these friends will be introducing three more friends next week, so be sure to check back with their blogs to find more terrific new writers.
I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!