I’ve been thinking about writing this post for several weeks, and I’m honestly not even sure why or how I got the idea in the first place. I think it has come through my transfer to WordPress, thinking about four years of posts and how I’ve grown through them. Thinking about my new site (being frustrated at this “construction phase”) and thinking about what I want it to be eventually. I’ve been feeling like I needed to both figure some things out about my blog, as well as share that information with my readers.
Secondly I’m going to be upfront in saying that this is one of those posts that I am going into blindly, not knowing what’s going to end up on this page. I need to write about this issue so that I can discover things for myself. I am hoping that through writing, I will gain a much clearer picture of my blog’s purpose and my life in general. So bear with me.
Why do I blog?
It’s a simple question. But the answer is far from simple. Every blogger is going to have a different answer. When I started this blog at the end of 2008, I couldn’t imagine what it would be now. It was just a cool thing I thought I would do. Very random. Everyone was doing it. I mainly wanted to keep my family updated on my life and share pictures with them, and I thought a blog was an easy way to do it.
But now, it’s so much more than that. I’ve gone from blogging about being a newlywed and talking about military life, to posts about motherhood and toddler playtime. My posts are all over the place. If I were to describe my blog in one word, it would be eclectic…and I like it that way.
Aside from writing on this blog, I also read and follow a lot of blogs. Some, I’ve followed for years. Others, I follow for a while and then move on. But there seems to me to be a movement among bloggers (especially professional or “big name” bloggers), to narrow down the focus of your blog. To find a theme. Aim to write for one target audience. To “be intentional.” This morning I read a post from another blogger about writing a mission statement for your blog. My first thought was “hey, I should do that!” My second thought was “wow, that would be like, impossible!” It’s tempting to feel like my blog is inferior to others because I have no real focus. I don’t have some fancy mission statement, or professional theme. I kind of envy those kind of bloggers. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that kind of approach to blogging. But when I think about writing some sort of mission statement for my blog, I feel restricted…constricted.
But still, my blog is very important to me. And while it may remain eclectic and mission-less, I do not want it to be purpose-less. And I still have to ask myself:
Why do I blog?
1. I blog to record my memories…for me. I am so so blessed. And I want to be able to fully remember my life in the future. Pictures are snapshots of memories. Anyone who has followed my blog for even a short amount of time will know that pictures play an integral part in my blogging. So why not just take pictures and keep them on your computer? Why do you have to put them on your blog? Because pictures aren’t enough. I want to be able to look back at photographs and remember what I was thinking and feeling when they were taken. What silly thing my son was saying and doing when a certain pose was shot. It’s not enough to just remember the snapshots…I want to remember the actual moments.
I want to remember the bad stuff too. I want to be able to look back and remember what it was like when Ezra was teething, or in the throwing-food-on-the-floor stage. Because right now, stuff like that is tough. It’s hard. It makes me want to give up. I KNOW that this is small stuff in the scheme of his life. And I know that I will look back with tears of laughter and joy in 15 or 20 years at what he was then, and what he has become. I want to remember the tears and stress of deployments and long work hours, and see how our marriage has become stronger because of it. I want to remember the spiritual and personal struggles that I was going through and remember how God brought me through it. I want to be able to SEE the beauty that God has brought from my messy life through HIS time and HIS purposes.
Also, for some horribly morbid reason, I am utterly terrified that something horrible is going to happen to me, Russ, or Ezra. Sometimes the fear of losing Ezra is so overwhelming that I can’t sleep at night. Maybe I just watch too much TV. But bad things happen. Babies get sick. Children die. People get in car accidents. And there’s always that “what if…” that I think when my husband drives away every morning. Heck, people even lose their memories. And I’m not talking “50 First Dates.” I’m talking the Vow…It’s a true story. I’ve read it. Or this guy who I’ve met personally who can only remember the last 17 years of his life. So yeah, it’s paranoia. But what if…what if it happened to me? What if Ezra died from some horrible disease? What if I was in a car accident and lost my memories? What if I died and Ezra had only two years of very early memories to remember how much his mommy loved him? What if my husband left for work and never came home? Sometimes, the urge to record my life in case of something horrible happening is so driving…it near drives me insane.
And this is where I really struggle. This is the BIGGEST reason that I blog…this driving desire to record every. little. thing, so (horrible things in the future or not) my entire family can remember them. But it is the hardest reason to keep in balance. First of all, healthy fear can become paranoia. And even setting fear aside for a moment…you can spend so much time recording the memories that you are missing out on simply living them. I’ve done this. No…I do this… Every time we go to the park I want to grab the camera to preserve memories for posterity’s sake. But what about TODAY? Today…I left my phone in my pocket, and just tried to enjoy the memories for today’s sake. Then there’s the simple time factor. For example, I have a post that still “needs” to be posted about when we went to an apple festival at a local orchard. We took about 30 video clips and 300 pictures in those 3-4 hours. And I want to put them together in a video so that we can look back and remember it all in one easy video. But it’s probably going to take me twice the amount of time that we spent there just to put together the video, format the photos, get everything inserted into the blog, and post the dang thing. I love doing it, but sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. What if I skipped that post on the blog? What if I didn’t make the video? What if I just remembered it in my mind…
2. I blog to keep my family and friends updated on life. This one is pretty self-explanatory…I do a lot of this on Facebook, but then I was struggling to keep the balance of being connected with so many people online. Now, my Facebook is only for very close friends, local friends, and family. (For more on the thoughts that went into that decision, read here.) But I was left with hundreds of people who I’ve known in my life that still wonder what I’m up to. So I have a blog. If they want to keep up with me, it’s there for the taking. If not, well then, that’s their loss. But, if I feel like going six months without posting, I’m not worrying about the people out in cyberspace. They’ll live.
3. I blog because I’m an introvert. This may surprise you. It surprised me too. Well, it didn’t use to. I always knew I was shy. But I’m not really shy anymore. But I’m still an introvert. Let me explain, by using some quotes from this amazing book, Mindset for Moms.
As an introvert, I enjoy being around others, but I recharge through time alone. Finding those moments by myself presents a serious problem when whichever way I turn a dear little soul clamors for my attention.
In her book, she devotes a whole chapter to Survive (and thrive) as an introverted mom. One of the strategies that she recommends is to write every day.
Introverted moms need reflection time–whether you’re writing a to-do list, a journal entry, a list of your blessings, or a blog post, make sure you have time to process your thoughts each day.
This helps you both to focus on the positive as well as make sense of what is going on inside that amazing mind of yours.
This wasn’t as much of a need in my life before I was a mom, because I had much more alone time. Tons of time to think. Now, I have two high-energy individuals for whom I am “on-call” all day and night long. So I get emotionally exhausted and am unable to recharge while they are needing me. I need time to be able to not just be alone, but to process my thoughts through writing. It really is highly therapeutic. I have gotten so overwhelmed with being behind on posts on my blog and feeling guilty for taking time to blog at all, but as I have counseled with my therapist, she has assured me that keeping up with my blog is one of the best things an overwhelmed, introverted person like me can do. When I read this portion I felt even more confirmation that (blog or not), writing is not just a thing I do, it’s a NEED I have. This post…case in point. Sometimes, my thoughts are just very very muddled and confusing until I get them out of my head. Then, suddenly, voila…everything makes sense!
4. I blog to encourage others. I put this one last, because it is the very last of my priorities. I’ll let you in a little secret, though it should be obvious by now from the above three reasons: I don’t blog for you. I blog for me. Oh I love readers, followers, hits, and comments (hint hint!!) just as much as the next gal. It’s great for my ego. And I feel blessed beyond measure if God can take my mess of a life and use it to help someone else. That’s just…amazing. So yes, sometimes I do write in hopes that someone will be blessed or encouraged. But I would much prefer that someone is blessed, not because they read a post that went “here’s 10 steps to be encouraged today”…and they were magically encouraged; but rather that they read a post that went “sheesh this is tough!! Anyone else think this is tough, cuz I do. But God is making beauty out of my messes”… and then they thought “Oh wait, you mean I’m not alone? you are this way too?!?! and God is taking care of you? Maybe He’ll make something beautiful out of my mess too!”
That’s why the title of my blog and it’s accompanying verses are so important, because it’s not just some cutesy title. It’s the theme. Oh wait…I take back all that bad stuff I said about missions statements. Because I just realized that maybe I do have a mission statement:
To see…to remember…the beauty that God makes out of my messes.
In birth, in death
in planting, in plucking up that which was planted
in killing, in healing
in breaking down, in building up
in weeping, in laughing
in mourning, in dancing
in casting away stones, in gathering stones together
in embracing, and in refraining from embracing
in getting, in losing
in keeping, in casting away
in rending, in sewing
in silence, in speaking
in loving, in hating
in war, in peace
beautiful…in His time.
And perhaps, just perhaps
That others could see His beauty in their lives too.
Cuz there’s a lot of eclectic-ness in those verses. So I think my blog is good just the way it is.