Why I'm Glad My Blog Didn't Grow

 


Well, another one bites the dust.

Yesterday I was browsing through my Bloglovin' feed, and I saw that another one of the bloggers that I follow has decided to call it quits.  I won't link to her post here, because it was a fairly new-to-me blog, and her site will be set to private in the next few days anyway.  Every time I see a blogger decide to step back from blogging, it makes me a little introspective.  It's a good thing to periodically reflect on my blog thus far and evaluate my priorities, I just wish the trigger wasn't always a negative one.

(It's still July, so that means I can still use sparkler pictures in this post, right?)

Regardless, I was thinking over this blogger's reasons for quitting, and thinking over my own reasons for continuing to blog over the years.  My reasons for blogging now are really the same as when I started it in the first place.  I like to write.  I like to create something pretty, either with words or photographs, and I like to share when I do.  I like to have this creative outlet for myself, this place to think things through, or stretch myself, or reflect some bit of my life that I don't want to forget.  I like to make friends with people who may be very different from me, but also kind of the same.

The blog has gone through stages, morphed a bit to fit whatever phase I was going through in my life, but it always comes back to these reasons.  I'm just very thankful that it remains a safe place for me to do those things, that it remains functional for my purposes.  I don't think every blogger can say that.



That Time I Tried To Grow My Blog

There was a period of time when I was actively trying to grow this blog and earn a little money from it - partly because the extra income was helpful at that time, partly because everyone was doing it.  And didn't I need to monetize and professionalize this blog to be taken seriously as a blogger?  When I realized that trying to make this into a job was making the whole thing a chore for me, I reevaluated then too and came back to my original purposes.

You know, the funny thing is, during that period of time, I wasn't quite sure what I was doing wrong.  Why wasn't my blog growing the way so many others were?  Why did it feel like I had to fight so hard for each new follower?  It honestly was a discouraging thing to me.

But now that I am successfully past that stage and fully over the desire to grow for growth's sake, I'm actually really glad that my blog didn't grow.  Ultimately it was God's grace to me to keep this space small.



Graces Of Staying Small

Grace #1: I've had limited nastiness to deal with.

I don't worry about a lot of the things bigger blogs have to deal with as a matter of course.  I haven't had the stress of nasty comments because I have only encountered a handful of trolls in my eleven (!) years of blogging.

My husband sometimes asks me not to write about a controversial topic that is weighing on me, because he knows that I am not built to handle alot of conflict.  While I have strong opinions that I am willing to share, and I never write anything that I am not willing to stick by, often handling the discussions, even when they are good discussions, is emotionally taxing on me.  I am blessed that I haven't had to deal with much meanness, and that even when we disagree, almost every discussion I've had with people on this blog has remained respectful.

I can't claim anything I did as a strategy for a positive blog environment, I fully credit it to the Lord keeping my blog mostly in a bubble, keeping it small, and only bringing the people who needed to read it.

 Grace #2: I am a terrible receiver of glory.

A couple of months ago I read something in a book that immediately made me realize anew that it was the grace of God that my blog didn't grow.  This is what I read:

"Being glorious is for God. Giving glory is a human task....We bring glory, we give glory, we reflect glory. But we are terrible receivers of it. We cannot hold glory because it was never meant for us. We are given glory to give it to our Maker. This is our task. This is our purpose. If a pipe has no outlet for the water, it is pointless and it will burst. When a person receives glory and has no place to give it, they will burst. When they have only a little glory that they don’t know what to do with, they go sadly stagnant...I only have a little, and I am doing nothing with it. Or, I have much, but it has destroyed me. These are not good options."  -Rachel Jankovic, You Who?

This passage resonated with me so much, because I know in my heart that if I received too much glory, I wouldn't give it all over to God.  I'd hoard some of it for myself, and in the end, I think it would ruin me, and it would ruin this blog.  I know myself well enough to say this one thing: I don't need any help being prideful, and I don't need something else to be prideful about.  The Lord knows that too, and I think He saved me from some rather serious humbling by keeping me from the opportunity to be puffed up by my blog in the first place.

Grace #3: I am still writing to friends.

I remember in my first year of blogging, I told my mom that I hoped I never got more than a certain number of followers, because then it would be hard for me to respond and keep up with everyone else's blogs.  And while more people read this blog now than my original (very small) desired number, somehow the spirit of that thought has held steady.  I haven't had a conversation with every person who reads this blog regularly, because some people never comment.  But I personally know (in an online, virtual sense) a good percentage of the people who are reading this right now, and I love that I can say that.

I am thankful for everyone who reads my rather unpolished, small-blogger thoughts, thankful for those who have stuck around through the years.  And if you're reading this, I am thankful for you.  I'm glad this blog is still small and cozy and perfect for me.  It is a beautiful thing to still feel as if I am writing to friends.

As long as I can say that, and as long as I still need to get my thoughts out into written words (which will probably be forever, let's be honest), I don't plan on going anywhere.



So there's another periodic blog evaluation in the books!

I guess you're all still stuck with me. *wink*

Any thoughts about writing, or blog size, or unexpected graces?  I'd love to hear what you think!

A Few Homeschool Finds



I am an admitted school supply nerd.  Even when I was a kid, I remember loving the feeling of holding a brand-new notebook.  Oh, the possibilities!  Usually it just ended up full of math problems or spelling words, but still.

So every late summer and fall, I get a little bit excited about shopping for school supplies, and I think being a homeschool mom makes it even a little bit more fun, because all of these supplies are things that I'll get to be using with my kids!  It's like childhood all over again.

Stores are weird now though, and the school supplies start showing up in July before the fireworks even start to fade from the sky.  I am a little bitter about constantly being rushed into the next season by retail, but at the same time, I have to snag the good stuff while it's still available, don't I?  So when I found out that Target was having a teacher discount earlier this month, I knew I better get over there and see what I could find before all the cute stuff is gone.



Here is what I bought!

Blank Books - Does anyone else remember writing and illustrating their own stories in a blank book at school?  I loved it any time I was presented with a blank book as a project.  I'm looking forward to using these to make writing a little more exciting for Wyatt this year.



Tassel Garland and Letterboard - I found a colorful tassel garland that I thought would be a cute decoration for a schoolroom, as well as a mini letter board for three bucks.  

Watercolor Pencils - We try to do a little bit of drawing instruction, and my kids also love whenever we breakout the paints, so we're going to give these a try.


Four and Three-Letter Word Spinners - These little wooden spinners will be a fun way to practice spelling and will be good for busy work when I am doing something else, like trying to get the little ones down for a nap.

Letter and Math Dice - I think these dice will be another more interesting way to practice spelling or review math facts!

I made a little video to show you guys what I found up close and share more about how I think we'll use them!





Have you found any other fun resources for the school year that I should keep an eye out for?

Doesn't have to be at Target. (I personally hate shopping at Target because I always spend more money there than I intend!  I thought I did pretty well getting out of there for only $30 this time.)

Book Snobbery



I drag two chairs together, and spray sunscreen on my legs because I plan to be outside for a while.  The kids are jumping on the trampoline, until one of them shouts "Let's ride bikes!" and they head to the other side of the house.  I settle in the chair, and I can hear my children calling to each other, birds chirping in the trees, grass rustling in the breeze, distant cars on the highway across the hills, and ice melting in my glass.  I lean back in my chair, my head in the shade from the patio umbrella and my feet in the summer sun.  This is my ideal summer day - nothing to do, nowhere to go, kids playing happily, and a book in my hand.

To me, Summer is the season of reading a bunch of books that I don't have to read.  This summer has been pretty successful on that front - I've read alot, and I've been able to get through books quickly!  It's been refreshing, since it usually takes me months to finish any one book.  I've been reading alot, and as if to up my book-nerdy-ness quotient, I've also been watching a bunch of book-related videos on Youtube, which has been so fun!  I've discovered new channels, and the whole community kind of reminds me of what blogging was like back in the early days.  Just the average person, putting their thoughts out there and making friends.

Anyway, one of the channels I've been watching created this "tag".  Remember the old "awards" that used to go around blogland in the day, and they came with a list of questions that you had to answer?  This is like one of those!  I thought I'd answer the questions here (and maybe on Youtube too), just for fun.  Feel free to grab these if you want (you can give credit to the original tag here).  Then we can evaluate our book-snobbiness together!



1. Adaptation Snob: Do you always read the book before you see the movie?

I actually do not have any requirements for reading books before watching the movie. In fact, my philosophy is quite the opposite. Sometimes if I would like to read a book but haven't been able to get myself to pick it up, I'll actually seek out the movie version and watch that first. Often when I watch the movie first and enjoy it, it actually makes me more interested in reading the book.

2. Format Snob: You can only choose 1 format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

Oh, this is a hard one. I think I'd have to say physical books, but a little part of me wants to say audiobooks because I listen to books so much these days. But I don't think I'd want to give up actually holding a physical book in my hands.

3. Ship Snob: Would you date or marry a non-reader?

Yes, I would, and I did. Derek reads some, but he wouldn't call himself a "reader". I don't think you have to share all the same interests to be in a relationship with someone, and when you get down to it, reading is just a hobby, just one way of gathering information or learning or being entertained. And on the flip side, I think if reading is the only way you are getting information or being entertained, you actually could be limiting yourself a little. Being with someone who isn't exactly like you in this area could help you branch out and become more well-rounded yourself, just as you might challenge another person by introducing them to books you like. Derek and I have all kinds of interesting and intellectual discussions, so I don't think reading alot or not reading as much is a factor in that. If you are not married yet, don't be a snob in this area! There are alot more important filters to sift your dates through than if you share one particular hobby or means of gathering information.

4. Genre Snob: You have to ditch one genre - never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?

Horror, because I never read that anyway, ha!

5. Uber Genre Snob: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?

Ouch, this is painful. I guess I would say "Non-fiction", because I'm an information person. I read books to gather information as well as a means of entertainment, and I think I can get both of those from non-fiction.  


Except don't let me think about books like Lord Of The Rings, or Anne Of Green Gables, or Chronicles of Narnia, because then I'll be so sad. Maybe I meant to say "Classics" instead. That would encompass all my favorite books, so that might be a better choice.  


It would definitely be one of those two though.


6. Community Snob: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?


I would probably say Christian Romance books (in my circles anyway), and I think it may or may not be warranted. On the one hand, alot of Christian Romance books are not super well written, or filled with cliche plot lines, or surprisingly racy while still managing to be a little preachy in not a good way. On the other hand, there are some good ones out there, and sometimes you just want a light and fluffy read that you can enjoy without sifting though inappropriate content, and a good Christian Romance is your safest bet for that. I've read plenty of books from this genre that I've enjoyed at one time or another, and plenty that I haven't.

7. Snobbery Recipient: Have you ever been snubbed for something that you have been reading or for reading in general?

You know...no, not really. I haven't had any comments directed toward me specifically anyway. But I'm also a little oblivious to other people's judgement, so maybe someone has been snobby to me about it and I just haven't noticed. I think generally speaking, readers/intellectual readers are a little more likely to be snobby toward non-readers/light readers than the other way around, but I haven't personally encountered that from either direction.





So basically I don't think I'm much of a book snob, ha! I do have specific tastes or things in books that I like or don't like, and I'm not shy about sharing my opinion (as anyone who follows my Goodreads reviews will know). But I do try not to be snobby toward people if someone else has a different opinion about specific books or reading in general. People are in different places and want different things from their reading, and I think that's okay.


Reader friends, feel free to snag the questions if you want, or tell me what you think in a comment! I'd love to read your answers.

Summer So Far





For me, one of the beautiful things about writing has always been the ability to capture a slice of time with my words.  It's been a while since I sat down to write a post with that intent purpose - to stop time for a minute and look at what life looks like right now.  

New Growth

I'm sitting at the library, typing, looking out the window at a pine tree that has light green summer growth at the end of each branch.  I can look and see where the branch ended mere months ago, and I can see the new growth, bright and new, stretching the branches out past what they were.  Making them new with each passing day.  In my gut I feel like this summer will be a growing one for us.  Or maybe it's just that every summer is.  

With each summer, I'm one more year a wife and mother.  With each summer my kids are stretching and growing in every way, just like that branch.  We will tick each of their grades up as the summer sails past; second to third, kindergarten to first, nothing to kindergarten.  It puts me in the frame of mind to reflect and pray, and ask the Lord who I'm helping them to become.  

Derek is home with the kids right now, working on setting up a trampoline that could be christened "Callie's bane".  I'm starting to hate that trampoline, and I'm not sure you could understand why until you've tried to set one up on mountain ground.  We've discussed the best way to go about it for way longer than is necessary, and I think it's brought out some character things in myself that I'd rather not look at most of the time.  

Maybe I needed reminding that I don't need to be in control of everything.  Things don't need to be perfect.  My suggestions don't alway need to be taken or validated.  I need to be easier-going when things end up taking longer than I like.  When I look at that trampoline now, it's a reminder of so much sin still hiding away in me.  It's a reminder that no matter how old I get, I'll still need some growing too.  But long term, I think I'll choose to look at it and let it make me grateful for Jesus dying to save me from even these stupid "little" sins that no one else sees.  

(Actually, correction, Derek also sees.  I'm also grateful for a husband who loves me and puts up with me even when I'm being a pill.)




First Week

June this year went by in a flurry.  This is the first year I put the kids in Vacation Bible School.  All of the "big four" (Wyatt, Gwen, Clyde, Clarice) went each morning, and so it was just me and Georgie for a few hours each day.  The experience took me back to the days when it was just me and Wyatt, my first baby, and it reminded me how special that time was when one child got all my attention.  It also reminded me how slow (or boring, depending on your perspective) life used to be.  I have to really think to remember what I did with myself when it was only me and my one baby.  What did I do with all that time?  Then I remember that I also worked two days a week back then, so that accounts for some of it.

The kids loved VBS and came home with a music CD that they requested every day for about a week.  But I actually didn't mind, because the music was pretty fun, even for me.  The program they went to taught them a few jazzed-up hymns, which I love so much!  We've been learning hymns all year for school, so I'm happy they got a couple more to love over the summer.  Say what you want about church music and all that, but in my book you really can't beat hymns.  Occasionally a modern Christian song has lyrics that are similar in depth and impact to hymn lyrics, but it's rare.

Second Week

The next week we had the homeschool conference, which I talked about on Instagram, and I plan to write more about it in the next few weeks.  There are such varying opinions about homeschool conferences, and I know some people who are not impressed with them, or who think they are just an elaborate attempt to sell them something.  I can understand that perspective, but I don't share it.  In my experience, any product talk is usually a very small part of the sessions, and the rest is dedicated to homeschool and parenting encouragement.  I haven't had a year yet when I didn't leave with more inspiration and ideas than when I came.  

So this year was good, and I even brought Wyatt with me one day to listen to a talk about animals of the Amazon.  I loved having my boy there with me at the conference, and it made me realize that while I'm still a little bit of a homeschool mom newbie, we are in this now.  We are doing it.  It is no longer new, my oldest will be in third grade in the fall.  This is working, and he is thriving, and even though my homeschool plans never fully pan out, we are not actually messing this up.  That's exciting to me.



Since Then

Since those first very busy weeks of summer, we have mostly been staying around the house and relaxing.  I bake muffins (and listen to Wyatt declare that I make the best muffins ever - one of my major boy mom goals wrapped up in that statement).  I clean and dust and try to keep some order to things.  I snuggle Georgie before laying her down for a nap each afternoon.  

The kids play outside and make homemade bird feeders.  They rocket down the driveway on their bikes while I remind them to wear their helmets if they are going to do that.  They scheme about how to climb our most climb-able tree, and I have to nix using a rope in the attempt.  They come up with elaborate games with their stuffed animals, and I hear some of my words coming from the mouths of Komodo Dragon and Goose, for better or worse.  I've read ten books this month, which might be a record for me.    

On the weekends we go on hikes, or plan movie nights with the kids, or (most recently) do sparklers in the driveway. We've had some rough days, when I thought the lack of structure was going to drive us all crazy and I raise my voice (code for yell) and instantly regret it.  But mostly it's been everything I want from summer.  It has been calm, and restful, and beautiful.  Summer is a season of growing and changing and stretching in the quiet, and I'm hoping for the rest of the season I can open my eyes, pay attention, and really watch it happen.



How is your summer going so far, friends?

Stuff I Like | June 2019


I have a few fun finds from June to share!

$1 Summer Movies

In case you weren't aware of it, a lot of theaters play older kids' movies in the morning in the summer and charge only $1 for admission.  (See this post for a general list, or just google "one dollar summer movies" in your area). The kids and I went to see "Turbo" with friends a few weeks ago, and I'm hoping we can catch a couple of the other movies before the summer is over!  Especially having a bigger family, we rarely get to go to the movies because it's so expensive for all of us - so this is one of our best chances to see something in the theater!  We don't care if it's an older movie.

Poesie

One of my recent goals is to read more poetry.  I have always struggled to find poetry that resonates with me.  I came across this app, which makes my attempt at poetry appreciation a little more fun -  the app has a daily poem, but it also has a bunch of free poems you can read within the app, organized by author or mood.  I actually found a couple poems I like this way!  However, the art choices for some of the category covers are a little...um, questionable, so don't let your kids poke around on there.

Colorized Photos

I ran across this album on Facebook, which contains iconic pictures that someone has taken and colorized.  Oh my goodness, they are amazing.  You know how sometimes you look at an old black and white picture and the person in it almost doesn't seem real?  The way these photos are colorized makes you feel like you are sitting right there in the scene, like you could have lived right next to these people.  It's just really neat.  I especially liked this one taken on D-Day, the ones of Einstein and Churchill, and this one from the Civil War.

Never Grow Up by Brooke White

I am a big fan of JJ Heller's lullaby album, and I know many of you are too.  Well, this album by Brooke White kind of reminds me of that other album.  The sound is a little different, but the lyrics are still all about memories with children and babies and growing up, with a bit of a lullaby quality to some of the songs.  I found it a few months back, but I've been enjoying it again in the last week!

The Far Country by Andrew Peterson

Another album I've enjoyed this month!  Once again, what makes the album for me is the lyrics.  The theme of this album seems to be the ultimate destination for the believer in Christ - which is Heaven - and looking ahead to the unseen in faith.  I think this is just a nice one to play in the background around the house on a quiet summer afternoon, and I've found it encouraging.

Note: Both of those albums are on Amazon Music if you are a Prime member.

Alma Classics

Some friends and I decided we want to read more classic books together, so we've started a little classics book club.  Of course, if I'm going to be reading all these classics, I can't think of a better opportunity to search out pretty copies to add to my collection while we are at it!  Unfortunately, the UK seems to have a monopoly on all the really pretty editions of classics, but I will not be deterred.  I found a couple of the classics on my list through online used book retailers, and one of the publishers I search for is Alma Classics.  They print paperback copies, but the covers are definitely some of the prettier ones available in the US, and usually you can find reasonably priced copies online.  Here's the Alma Classics copy of The Great Gatsby, which I recently bought for book club:



Kiddie Pools

This is probably going to make me sound a little hillbilly-ish, but there is just not much that is nicer on a hot summer afternoon (when you have five little kids) than to sit on the back porch in the sunshine, reading a book with your feet in the kiddie pool while the kids play.  It's nicer than taking them to a real pool for sure, because they are all right there in front of me so I don't have to worry so much about taking my eyes off them, since I can literally stretch my legs and touch them.  Nothing bad is going to happen if I read for a few minutes, because they are two feet from me.  But we still get the benefit of water!

Chirp Books

This is a new audiobook deal website!  I found out about it early, because I am also signed up for BookBub's ebook deal emails.  They have some good audiobook deals on here though, and a few different titles that I am interested in!  I'm just sitting on it for now while I think about which ones I should consider buying, but I figured I'd share with my fellow audiobook-lovers in the meantime.

Do you have any good finds from June?  Please share!







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