How 5 Years of Blogging Has Changed My Life

how 5 years of blogging has changed

 

Has it been that long?  Oh yes – yes it has!!!

Next month, I will have been blogging for 5 years. At this point, blogging has taken up a HUGE chunk of my free time. This ministry has changed my life.

The emails I receive from hurting women – has changed me.

The encouragement and support from women whose lives are being changed – has changed me.

The criticism I have received from angry people – has changed me.

The writing of other bloggers in the “blogging community” – has changed me.

But most of all – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has changed me.

He has opened my eyes to the needs, hurts and beauty of my generation. He has opened my eyes to the powerful truths of the Proverbs 31 and the Titus 2 woman. He has opened my eyes to what the word GRACE really means.

We do not and will not all look alike. There is no cookie cutter mold for how we as women will serve our God. We each have our own story from where we came, where we are today and where we are going tomorrow.We are journeying together in this thing we call life.

During these 5 years, I’ve been surprised by some of my bloggy happenings…things like the Rachael Ray Show producer emailing me (I remember being weak in the knees during our phone call!) or when my readership spiked over 1,000 visitors in a day, then eventually 10,000 visitors a day and a few times over 100,000 visitors in a day because of this post and this post.  Or when the reality show casting agent arrived in town to meet me and my friends (which we would later turn down this opportunity – 4 times) .  Or when I held the official contract in my hands for my upcoming book.  Or when a little thing called Good Morning Girls here on this site turned into GoodMorningGirls.org and then caught wind and grew like rapid fire as Angela and her team transformed an idea into a vibrant ministry!

All glory to God – not one of these things happened because of Courtney Joseph.  If I have ever appeared to have it all together – I apologize – because I am a very flawed sinner saved by grace. Nothing more.  I am only a tool – if I did not do it – God would use someone else. He does not need me, but I am so grateful that he allows me to be a part of his work.

And sure, these moments are exciting. But it’s not what my blogging is all about.  For me, it’s about me being faithful to what I believe God is calling me to do. As I listen to God, submit to my husband, train my children, serve in my home and then turn my attention to the social media world -I open myself up and say – “here I am Lord, use me”.

Has God laid a ministry on your heart?

Have you surrendered your life to him saying “use me Lord Jesus”. Oh, it’s scary to say those words – but let me testify – it’s so exciting too! There are hard nitty gritty painful days but THEN there are those moments when I sit on my deck, with my face towards the sun and the wind blows and I feel his presence like a warm coat around me.

I have never been more confident in my life that this is the work God prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10) .I am reminded of Noah building the ark for days on end. Others walked by and wondered what in the world he was doing! (and trust me I have had plenty of people say “you do what? You blog? Why? Who has time for that?”) In Genesis 6:9 the Bible says “Noah walked with God”. This is what Noah was doing – walking with the King! And this is what happens when you walk with the King. The King might ask you do to something outside of your comfort zone!

Dear sisters, take risks – follow the King of Kings!

Is he asking you to submit to your husband? Is that scary to you? Do it - and you will find freedom there!
Is he asking you to sacrifice something you enjoy so that you can spend time training your children? Do it - you won’t regret it.
Is he asking you to step out of your home and talk to your neighbor, your cousin or a mom on your child’s soccer team? Do it! Be like Noah – who surrendered his all to the King – took a risk – and found joy on the other side. Do it!

If I can – so can you! But you must be listening – you must be sure that the quiet voice you hear is God’s. And when you are sure it is - surrender.

I’m reminded of missionary and martyr Jim Elliot’s quote “Where ever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

God can use anyone and he wants to use you. Below is a 4 minute video by Author and best seller of Crazy Love, Francis Chan. At birth his mom died. At 9 his step-mom died. At 12 his father died. His only close family was his aunt and uncle and at 16 they both DIED! And so at 16 Francis had nothing…

Are you living a “safe” life? Then You MUST watch this video – it is only 4 minutes long – but it will prepare you for the day you meet Jesus!

 

(if you cannot see this video – click here to view it)

Join me in abandoning the safe life – let’s serve our King of Kings with every breath we have - till we all meet together in heaven! I’ll see you there!

 Chime In: What is it that you feel God is calling you to do today.  It does not have to be big in the eyes of the world – it may be that God is calling you home, to love more on your own family or maybe it’s God calling you to spend more time in his word or prayer.  Or maybe it’s a ministry you have been fearful to step out on faith and join or begin.  Whatever it is – the important thing is that you obey God’s promptings. Sometimes the best way to start is through the accountability of sharing it with someone – so share what God is calling you to today in the comment section!  I’ll be praying for you!!!

Walk with the King,

The First Blog I Ever Followed & A Link-Up Party

 

Before we start this month’s blog hop, I thought I would share with you the first blog I ever read on a daily basis.   The blog is called Girl Talk.

I began reading it many many moons ago but lately I’ve been so busy writing, I don’t have time to read there but they are still wonderfully inspiring!  I went back to their blog to see when it began –and I can only go back in the archives to 2005 but I am almost certain that they existed in 2003 and they just don’t have the archives…I read them every.single.day.for.years.on.end!  And I bought 3 of their books and devoured them!

They challenged me in my walk with God, as a new wife, new mom and new homemaker and it is because of them that I thought…maybe I could be used by God to do this blogging thing too.

What first drew me to the blog was who wrote it.  It is written by a mother name Carolyn Mahaney and her three daughters –Janelle, Nicole and Kristen.  I related to them because the three girls reminded me of the relationship I have with my 2 sisters and my mom.

  

As you blog hop today – I encourage you to hop on over to visit these Godly chicks! They have a really great resource page filled with free PDF downloads on Biblical Womanhood, Motherhood, Marriage, Homemaking and Singleness.

I’m pretty sure they don’t know I exist…I’ve emailed them multiple times to tell them how much I appreciate them and how they have inspired me…but I never heard back.  At one time, I was sad I never heard from them…but now that my email inbox is crammed full and I’ve failed to answer my readers back…I understand.  But if by chance they stumble here…Carolyn, Janelle, Nicole and Kristen – THANK YOU for writing. You have blessed my life immensely!

Blogging friends, I can’t wait to see what you all have been writing lately!  Link up your favorite posts from the past month below! And reading friends – grab a cup of coffee and come fellowship with us on this blog hop!

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

Come on in!!!

If you have never taken the time to check out these other bloggers – you are missing out! The ladies that link-up below are amazing writers and creators and I just know that one of them is going to encourage you today!

Join the fun, do a little blog hopping and don’t forget if you link-up below -please add the Women Living Well Wednesdays button to your post so your readers can find us here!

(Posts can include the topics of marriage, parenting, homemaking, homeschooling, finances, recipes, organization and more!)

 

 
To find the code go to the sidebar – or right click and “save as” the button and then upload it into your post! :)
 
 
 



I’ve been Ruined!

 

 Last November, I sat back and assessed my life and determined – this blog –this “Women Living Well” thing, has changed my life…At first –it seemed to be changing it for the better.  It was so fulfilling to be able to connect with women and exchange encouragement.  But then it all morphed.

Numbers, stats, hate mail, drama, expectations, insults, stress, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and all sorts of other ugly things came along side this great joy in ministry.  And when I took a break in November I was thinking – What have I done to my life?

Then, over Christmas, I read in a book about D.L. Moody, the amazing Evangelist and founder of the college I attended, and how he said – once he met Jesus, he was “ruined”.  Everything changed for him.  He could no longer pursue the wordly things he once pursued. 

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah says he is “ruined”. What ruined him?

Isaiah’s Commission

1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;the whole earth is full of his glory.”4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”6Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

When Isaiah saw God the Almighty King– he cried out that he was ruined.  He was forever changed.  And when the Lord was looking for a man to send – Isaiah could not resist answering the call: “Here I am. Send me!”

Blogging has not ruined my life, but seeing God and knowing him intimately –has ruined me for this world’s purposes.  This realization explains for me some of my frustrations in life. It’s really my own selfish desires battling with God’s call on my life to write.

I cannot sit and sip coffee and read good books only for my own pleasure.  I cannot stare at the television every evening while precious minutes fly by.  Time is short.  I have seen God in his Word and I must pursue his will.  I cannot allow myself to be drawn into excessive sleeping and eating and exercise and pursue all my own whimiscal desires – because I know.  I know the love and power and grace of God and I must share it!

And that God, the one that Isaiah saw, who sits seated on a throne high and exalted with angels surrounding him…whose voice causes the doorposts to tremble…whose holiness no one can match.  That God speaks to me in his Word every morning and he woos me to answer the call, ”Whom shall I send?” 

I’m reminded of the noble missionary Amy Carmichael – who gave up her comfortable life to go to the mission field.  I have written in my 2007 prayer journal this quote she penned:

The night I sailed for China, March 3, 1893 my life, on the human side, was broken, and it was never mended again.  but he has been enough.”

If you know Jesus personally – you’ve been ruined too my friend!

We can’t pursue our own selfish desires!  We must humbly surrender to the life he has called us to – no matter how uncomfortable it makes us at times.

Now the decision is up to us…how will we answer his call? 

Sorry God, I’m kind of tired and feel like sipping coffee and reading a good book.”

or

“Here I am, Send me!”

Are you in a tug of war these days between your flesh and obedience? Me too!

There’s only one way to win this battle – open God’s word and Behold,– the Glory of our God. 

Worthy is the Lamb.

Walk with the King,

 

 

Have You Lost Your Edge?

 

The end of 2012 was really hard for me.  In November, I had a little meltdown late one night as my husband and I talked about life.  I started crying and just couldn’t stop – which is very unlike me. I think I cried for over an hour.  I was simply exhausted and the idea of adding my Christmas to-do list to homeschooling and blogging and book edits – completely overwhelmed me.

Of course, it was all so clear for my husband that I should just put the blog on hold till after the book edits were complete (they were due January 2nd to Thomas Nelson) and until Christmas was over (seems reasonable right?)…but that was VERY hard for me to do.  I had tons of Christmas posts lined up in my mind!!!  And I wanted to share the holiday season with you all!

But I took my husband’s advice and abruptly went on a bloggy break

Once the noise of the on-line world was silenced…I could see a lot of things in my personal life that needed to be dealt with.  I needed to be praying more.  Period.  My 2012 prayer journal was pathetically empty…pages and pages and pages of my 5 Subject Notebook that is typically bursting full with life at the end of the year EMTPY!  What in the world?  I’ve been prayer journaling for nearly 20 years and never had I had such a pathetic year of prayer!

I needed to be exercising again.  I needed to be reading good books for my own soul – not just to review and promote on the blog.  I needed to be a better friend to my real-life friends.  Part of my evening of sobbing to my husband hinged on the fact that two of my dearest  long time friends had painfully difficult years this past year and I was not there for them.  I was so busy on-line that I did not take them a meal or write them encouragement notes.  I prayed for them and hugged them and listened to them.  But I in no way served them or was there for them.  I regret this…and fear gripped me as I realized if I keep living like I did in 2012, I will have no real-life friends!!! 

As January rolled around on the calendar, I realized…I had lost my edge.  My exhaustion sucked the life and passion out of me to do ministry.  All I wanted to do was play, eat, sleep, exercise and read good books.  Writing was the last thing on the list I wanted to do…and then I read 2 Kings 6.

It’s a strange story tucked right into 2nd Kings and it was wondrously applicable – I mean REVOLUTIONARY to me!  Some of you may remember that I wrote about my need to “sharpen my axe“.  I knew I was feeling dull but I was worse off than I thought…I wasn’t just dull – my edge was gone!

And I just wonder…have you lost your edge too?  Maybe it’s not from blogging…but maybe it’s from parenting a difficult teen or being up late at night with your babies or maybe you are a missionary on the mission field and ministry has sucked the life out of you too. 

Maybe you are in a church where very few serve and there’s a lot of takers and you are tired of giving. Maybe you are stressed out, your calendar is too full, your bank statement is depressing or you are trapped in a circumstance that frustrates you.  Your hope is gone and the spark you once had has fizzled. Maybe your heart for the lost or the poor or the sick or the needy has hardened or grown cold.  And you feel like you just can’t do it anymore.

Whatever it is that has caused you to lose your edge – listen to this story out of 2nd Kings!


 

(If you cannot see this video – click here)

If you’ve lost your edge, go into a room alone and close the door.  Get on your knees and ask the Lord to supernaturally bring it back.

I have been daily praying,

“Oh Lord, bring back my edge…”

I’m waiting. 

Walk with the King,

 

 Ps. I may have lost my edge – but Good Morning Girls is ON FIRE!!!  Our Bible study in the book of Luke is about to begin (the 8 week winter session begins Monday, Jan. 14th).  We have thousands of women enrolled and the FREE ebook and Bible reading plans have now been translated into EIGHT different languages!!!  Cue the confetti and cartwheels!  God is amazing!  He is doing an amazing work around the world over at GMG!  If your first language is Hungarian, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, German, Spanish, Croatian or French hop on over to GoodMorningGirls.org and get your materials in your OWN language FREE!!!!

Highlights From Allume {including my notes from Ann Voskamp}

My Roomies: Peak313.com, TimeWarpWife.com, The BetterMom.com, GoodMorningGirls.org 

It’s Monday morning and I’ve discovered I am simply too old to live on 5 hours of sleep lol!  I partied like a teenager for the last 4 nights and I’m EXHAUSTED!  But…I had a Fabulous time hanging out with my bloggy Christian community at a blogging conference called Allume.

 One highlight was spending time with my all time FAVORITE parenting author and now personal friend Sally Clarkson.  I just love soaking up her wisdom.  I had the privilege of sitting at her dinner table a few times and I love how she goes quickly to the deeper things of life and makes the most of our moments together.  I miss her already and can’t wait till we meet again!

Sally was a keynote speaker.  She spoke on the importance of building strong foundations on which we build our homes.  The 4 foundations are: Love God, Love Your Neighbor, Seek First the Kingdom of God and Live by Faith.  This is how we build a strong home that will make a difference for generations to come!  Sally is certainly impacting the next generation and I am so thankful for her willingness to spend time with young moms to listen, advise, laugh and love.  If you aren’t familiar with her – you must visit her blog here and her group blog here. (I was a contributor when it began but due to a busy season of life I had to step down.  But the writers here are excellent and I cannot recommend then all highly enough.)

Then the final keynote of the conference was the amazing word crafter - Ann Voskamp.

 My first photo of the conference was with Ann – her hotel room happened to be just a few doors down from mine so we stood at the elevator a few times together small talking.  In real life – Ann is engaging…she is an intent listener, an encourager, and a warm balm.  She truly loves people deeply right where they are and while I admire her deep love of people – I admire even more her deep love for God. 

As the closing speaker of the conference, she challenged the room filled to the gills with bloggers with a powerful message – here’s my notes: 

The only way a tree grows tall is to grow into unknown territory.

Creativity is good theology – God began with creation.

God didn’t give Abraham a map – he gave him Himself.  He did not give him a guide book but a Guide.

A calling you never stop listening for.  Listen to where he calls you.

A career is about the plan.  A calling is about the person.

When you can’t hear your father’s voice – you’ve gone too far…the heart of faith is your ear.

God’s call is not to do more for Him but more WITH Him.

Christ bent down to write in the sand…go low to write.  Jesus stooped with no platform and wrote with his bare finger.  He did not write on paper – he wrote on people.  Write on family, kids, neighbors, elderly, needy, faces, hands and hearts…then write on screens.

Writing on screens brings applause. Matthew 6 says – it’s what is done in secret that will be rewarded.

The secret to good writing is good living in secret.

Do not exchange fame for faithfulness.

“Your writing is only as credible as your life is credible.” ~ Max Lucado

The moment you give the words of your story to the world – you cannot control where it goes.

We are all broken.  Brokenness breaks us from the need to be right. 

Christian conviction cannot negate Christ’s Compassion.

Jesus did not worry about guilt by association.  A ministry of of association leads to reconcilliation.

We aren’t defined by our gifts but by God.  Gifts are meant to be given away.  Break yourself and give yourself away.

Glory not in your strength but in your brokenness. 

I have lots of notes to ponder this week.  I thank God for the Christian blogging community.  Sometimes writers can feel alone and kind of quirky.  It was amazing to walk through the halls and see all the little square profile pictures from twitter and facebook come to real life.  These bloggers and writers are real women with real stories and a real love for their creator.   It was so good to be with other women who understand some of the challenges writers face.  It’s good to not be alone.  And while I’m so sleepy this morning – my heart is filled up and I’m excited to get back to writing on the hearts of my family, those God bring across my path in real life and then this screen.

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

RooMag Contributor Party

12 of the Roo Mag Contributors are gathered in Harrisburg, PA this weekend at a blogging conference called Allume.

We gathered in our hotel room and skyped with Candace! So fun!

 

Top Row L to R: Darlene, Angela, LeAnn, Rachel, Glynnis, Mandy
Bottom Row L to R: Stacy, Sheila, Darlene, Clare, Ruth, Courtney

It was a great time of hugs, love and lots of chatter! We wish you could all be here with us!

Walk with the King,

The Biggest Disappointment of the Conference Last Year

Wednesday morning I will leave for the Allume Conference – formerly named The Relevant Conference. I wrote the post below last year after the conference ended and it still speaks to right where I’m at now.  So here’s the repost…

Me with Ann right before we spoke on a panel about “Upside Down Blogging”.

There was one HUGE lesson God revealed to me during the Relevant Conference…

I’m a huge disappoinment and it’s time I embrace disappointing others – to the glory of God!

Let me explain.

The closing speaker for the Relevant Conference was my #1 favorite blog writer – Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience {and author of the New York Times Best Seller for over 50 weeks in a row - One Thousand Gifts}. Her writing takes me to the throne of God each time I read it. I simply can’t get enough of her writing.

Previous to her closing session, I had shared the platform with Ann in a session titled “Upside Down Blogging“. I spoke about Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel. The men building the tower of Babel wanted to “make a name for themselves” and in God’s eyes this was wicked and brought judgement. As bloggers, this temptation to “make a name for ourselves” exists and we have to be so careful of this trap.

I also talked about Paul and Silas – when the jail doors fell open they stayed in the jail and the jailers family was saved! Opportunities have arisen this year for me – doors have flown open – but thus far I have stayed put believing that it is God’s will for me to stay right where I am at. But I’m not always so sure this is completely noble.

To be honest, I’m scared to death to put myself out there much more than I have on my blog…I fear that expectations may be too high – it raises the bar in every area of my life. From my marriage, to my parenting, to my homemaking – I feel pressure to not disappoint. And this fear of disappointing has caused me to stagnate.

Those closest to me in my real life – know I’m just Courtney…wierd, passionate, talkative Courtney…I have hurts, pains, problems, and fears just like everyone else…I say immature things. I say sinful things. I am SO flawed – the cross says I am flawed! Hallelujah for the cross!

Trust me, I’m a big disappointment in real life.

And so as I sat with pen in hand, ready to receive the message Ann had to share at the closing session of the Relevant Conference – this fearful, weary, wrestling mommy blogger found hope and tears stung as she spoke these words…

“You have been appointed to disappoint so you will point to the one who doesn’t disappoint.”

Did you catch that? It’s my calling!

This is my calling – to be a disappointment to the glory of God!

I am free! Free to be a big disappointment! Because it’s NOT about me – let me point you to who it’s ALL about – Jesus!

Here’s more from my notes that I wrote down that night:

There are no rock stars in blogging. God is our rock and we are all stars shining for him.

Jesus does not need our help to be famous.

Fame is the ugly world of over exaggeration.

Jesus rejected, retreated, and resisted fame. When he healed, he told them go and tell no one! He reteated from being crowned King. Jesus knew he would be used more with a crown of thorns than with a crown enthroned.

Be willing not to be esteemed but to be sacrificed.

Our method of ministry must be as counter cultural as our message is.

There’s a dark underbelly to blogging. Satan would want nothing more than to destroy us.

All the Christian bloggers united are thunder -we are signaling God is about to rain – rain on the wilderness of parched and dry souls. Since Jesus is the rain, we must be thankful people are reading at any blog.

And so I conclude, I am but thunder…I pray that when you come here, God rains on your soul. And when I post something unsettling, don’t answer your email (oh the guilt I carry for not answering your emails :( I just feel terrible I’ve disappointed so many in this way) or you meet me accidently in the supermarket (multiple times I’ve met strangers who are readers in stores) and my kids are standing on their heads lol!…I will remember I am but dust…you can’t expect too much out of dust (as Sally Clarkson says).

And I am learning to make peace with my new identity.

“I’ve been appointed to be a disappointment so I can point others to the one who will never disappoint.”

It’s my honor to be a disappointment to the glory of God!

_______________________________________________________

It’s exactly one year  since I wrote the above and my, how my heart needed to revisit these words.  Sometimes I meet women who say they’ve read my blog at the park, store, or church and I think…man, I bet she was so disappointed in the ‘real life’ me.  I mean I’m pretty underwhelming peeps.  Honestly, in real life, I talk faster than I think…I really am not a very profound person lol!   If anything I seem to put my foot in my mouth regularly. And I’ve come to a point in my life where when someone says they read my blog…instead of being thrilled (that used to be SO exciting to hear) I’m gripped with fear because I don’t want to disappoint.  I’ve become hypersensitive to my family’s flaws and I’ve had to remind myself to chill…it’s okay to be human…flawed…

Reading Ann’s words lifts the burden that I pridefully carry and reminds me this is all not about me! I have to keep pointing to the one who will never disappoint.  That’s my life long mission. 

So if you are one of the ones who has been disappointed, what’s more important is that you know and love the one who will never disappoint you – JESUS.  He loves you so!

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

This is a REALLY Busy Week!

 

This week is SOOO full for me, so I’m not sure how much blogging is going to happen.

First – Angela from Good Morning Girls was here in Ohio (from Texas) this weekend – so we had to have a bloggy meet-up Saturday night at my house.  Janelle from Comfy in the Kitchen and Clare from Peak 313 stopped by!  And this is how sweet Angela is –she flew in from Texas with her three little ones in tow, then cooked up a meal for Janelle (whose husband recently had surgery and could use a meal) and brought it to our get together!  I love how this picture captures the joy of giving and receving (this is a sincere photo – they weren’t posing)!   Janelle, who is always cooking for someone was so blessed.  This is an awesome picture of how sisters in Christ are meant to love in the family of God.

Then, I got my edits back from Thomas Nelson last week and they are due back this week.  There are not too many changes…but I do have one chapter I have to completely re-write because it was almost entirely struck out.  It’s the chapter about my mom!  That surprised me because I was thinking that was a chapter you all might enjoy…but I think it’s my style of writing that was the problem.  I went into autobiographical mode – so I’m gonna try to go with less stories and come at it from a different angle, while still sharing all that I’ve learned from her.  So that is due back this week to the editors.

Then… the biggest part of my coming week will be on Wednesday morning when I leave for 5 days for a blogging conference called Allume (formly named Relevant).  I am SO excited to get there and see all of my blogging friends. It is always an amazing ride there…actually it was last year at this conference when I met my agent to discuss the Reality Show I was considering doing. What was I thinking? lol! Anyhow…I came home planning to write a book instead of doing a show – good plan right? :) 

I expect this conference to be a little more low key for me.  This is my first conference to attend in years – that I don’t have to speak.  It’s a bit of a relief to get to go and simply get filled up.  I am going to be the Emcee during Saturday’s lunch for a Marriage Discussion with some awesome bloggers and that’s it.  I am thankful for the minor role. 

Have a great week!  I will be posting a re-post tomorrow from last year’s conference and what I learned and the link-up will be up on Wednesday. 

I can’t wait to share my pictures from the conference with you later this week!

Walk with the King,