Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV)
Can I be honest and real for just a minute with you my friends? July was a rough and tough month for me. It just seemed like a lot was going on in my life on all fronts. I can’t say that my stress was from anything life shattering, praise be to God! It was more like a lot of little things that had piled up. I will not bother to list them all because that is not what this post is about. I will say that the last couple of weeks were very trying. I was quite discouraged and was doubting if I was on track with my writing, my upcoming book and just where I was headed as a writer. One night in July I was really in a pit. When I got in bed, I prayed for God to let me know I was doing what he wanted me to do. I told him how much I loved writing and sharing my heart, but I just wanted to be in his will. That was it. Then I closed my eyes and went to sleep.
Well as always my Heavenly Father sure heard my prayer. What a wonderful and beautiful unexpected surprise I woke up to the following morning. After my devotions, I quickly checked my emails and a few things on social media. And there it was! I did a double take as my eyes landed on this sweet little photo. I was the recipient of a Blogger Recognition Award!
My fellow blogging friend and sister in Christ, Esther Hosea, nominated me for this special recognition. I was so blessed, and Esther had no idea just how perfect the timing of this award was for me. She had no idea I had been struggling and needed some encouragement for myself. But my Father knew, and he used this sister to remind me why I am called to write. Esther is an amazing woman of faith. From the first time I visited her blog, I knew this was a sister who shared my heart to encourage others. Esther’s story is not one that is easy to write because she openly shares the struggles and trials she has gone through in her marriage. Yet in spite of her pain, Esther encourages women who are living through or who have lived through a heart breaking marital struggle. In the midst of her battles, Esther has never lost sight of God nor her commitment to being obedient in whatever he asks of her. Esther recently took an amazing mission trip to Africa. She shares some beautiful stories of what God did on this journey. I hope you will take the time to visit my friend soon over at His Dearly Loved Daughter. You will be blessed.
Esther, I want to say thank you again for being such an inspiration to me on so many levels. As a writer, you are amazing. Had you not beat me to it, you would have been my first choice as a nominee for the Blogger Recognition Award! As a Christ follower, you are truly a light that shines beautifully. As a sister in Christ, you are a gift. I am blessed to know you. May God continue to bless the work of your hands always.
How My Blog Started:
One of the guidelines for this award is to tell how I came to be a blogger. Those who know me both now and in the past know that I am a “word person.” I have always loved the use of words whether it is in reading them, writing them or speaking them. As far back as I can remember, I have been an encourager. I love to make people feel better through my words. I believe that everyone needs a dose of hope and inspiration now and then. In 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, God’s Word tells us we will comfort others with the same comfort we have received. Can I tell you that God has faithfully brought me comfort through many trials and storms time and time again? I have learned that God wastes nothing in our lives. He takes the very things we felt we would never make it through and then allows us to minister that same comfort to those who are hurting. Shortly after I received Christ and became a Believer, I began journaling almost daily in 1995. The thoughts and words I shared with God brought me such peace and comfort. Then in 2011, God began to impress upon me that I needed to begin to write down my experiences of how He carried me through some challenging seasons in my life. I knew He wanted me to do more than journal my thoughts. I felt he wanted me to share these stories somehow. As I prayed and sought the Lord on how and what this was going to look like, I found myself drawn to blogging. As a result, Nuggets from the Heart was birthed into a blog, and my first post was written for the world to see in June 2012. If I had to summarize the reason for my blog in one word it would be ENCOURAGEMENT. You can find out a bit more about me on my “Meet the Nuggets Writer” page.
At first, I thought the whole idea was crazy! I mean who would want to read my stories? How could they possibly make a difference? Then one day I received a comment on one of my first blog posts. I had only been blogging a few weeks. Honestly, I do not even remember now which story it was, but a man in Australia left a comment!! (Only God!!) This man who I had never met, and probably never will, told me he was desperately searching the internet for something, anything, to encourage him. He said that his wife had walked out on him and their child just days before. He was so distraught and just knew God had abandoned him. He felt so hopeless…until he “stumbled” upon my blog. He thanked me for writing the words he needed at that moment. He said he felt like God was still with him and he was determined not to give up. Needless to say, I sat there with tears of amazement and disbelief!!! I will never forget that moment. I quickly realized that God put this man in my path to be encouraged, but at that moment, I also knew God had used his words to encourage me to write. I told myself, and I told God that as long as he wanted to use me to inspire others through my blog, then I would keep writing. And so here I am today in my fifth year of blogging, trusting God to use my words somehow to make a difference. Before a blog post is ever published I cover it with a prayer asking God to put that story in the path of just the right person at just the right time. He continues to honor that request faithfully.
But the story continues. We all know that God is in the business of growing and stretching us. Many of you reading this, already know that God planted a dream in my heart that seemed almost too big. In early 2015 God began to once again impress something on my heart regarding sharing my stories this time on a larger scale. He asked me to write a book with a collection of the stories or the “Nuggets” which he planted in my heart. Today is not the day to share the entire saga of all that has transpired in the past almost three years of this amazing God journey. In time I will share those details. All I know is that in this recent season of writing this book, Nuggets from the Heart, I have learned so much more…about God…about myself…about others. The manuscript is in the final days of edits before it goes to publication. Like my blog posts, every chapter has been covered with a prayer that God will use just the right story, at just the right time for just the right person. I am confident he will. It is, after all, HIS book! He just had me put the words on paper.
My Advice for New Bloggers:
- COMPARISON. Don’t fall into that trap. Never compare your writing and your blog to those of others. Learning from more experienced bloggers makes for wise use of your time. Lamenting over the imperfections of your blog is a waste of your time. Recognize that your story is YOUR story. It is not anyone else’s story, and God has an audience that needs to hear your story. Your story matters! Your style is unique because you are unique. Others will write, and some will write very well. But, they have not been called to write your story. No one will be able to tell your story because it is yours to tell. Honor that truth. Honor yourself and honor God by doing what he has called YOU to do. If you do this, you will be free to use the gift he has given you and fulfill the call to write. Do not despise small beginnings. When I look back at how my blog first started, I am in awe of how far God has brought me as a writer. But I am still learning. I hope I never stop learning. Stay teachable. God will put the right people in your path to help you maneuver the curves and bumps on your writing journey.
- OBEDIENCE. Listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your seasons of writing. There will be times when it seems you can’t get the words he gives you on paper fast enough. There will, however, be times when you feel God has gone silent and the words have stopped coming. IT IS OK TO TAKE A BREAK FROM WRITING! Do not try to PUSH when the Father says PAUSE. Rest in him. Trust in him. The time spent recharging and refreshing your soul and spirit will do more for your writing than any conference, any seminar or any workshop on the “how to” of becoming a better writer. God is the Author and the Finisher of your faith and he will take you through the journey as a writer one step, one day and one blog post at a time. Trust him.
In January of this year, I joined several blogging groups on social media. To say that I have been awed by the amazing women I have met in these writing circles is an understatement. There is a quote that says, “Girls COMPETE. Women COMPLETE!” I have no idea who said that but those words truly resonate in my spirit when I think of the beautiful new sisters I have come to know and appreciate these past few months. Each one is uniquely gifted in her ability to write from her heart. But the one thing that ties us all together is our love for Jesus and sharing that love with others through our words. This love flows out from each of us into one another as fellow bloggers and writers. The blogging groups are a sanctuary where we can share our work, our questions and our hearts with one another with no fear of judgment. We come from all backgrounds and walks of life. We learn from one another, and as a result, we are better writers and stronger women of God. I believe our connection to each other and to Christ powerfully exemplifies what a three cord strand is all about as mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12.
So with this being said, I now would like to nominate the following bloggers and their blogs. I have no doubt you will be blessed by each of these amazing and gifted ladies.
April Clevenger writes at Resting in His Shadow. If I had to describe this faithful sister in one word it would be CHEERLEADER! April is one of my very faithful followers and is usually one of the first (like Esther Hosea) to leave an encouraging comment on my blog posts. If you look at her facebook page, you will see a steady stream of posts where she has shared the most recent blog posts from a number of fellow bloggers. Yes, April is truly one of God’s varsity cheerleaders in the blogging world! Knowing what it means to be a cancer survivor, April uses her lovely blog to encourage, inspire and give hope to other survivors as well as those who are enduring a journey to healing.
Tammy Dunlap is a sister who makes you feel welcome anytime you visit her at Grandma Mary Martha. You really need to find out how she came up with this delightful name! Tammy writes about everything but her focus is family and faith. Her candid style makes you feel like you are visiting a long time friend and her stories will make you laugh and cry. Either way, you are sure to be blessed.
Jerusha Borden is a wife and mother of two precious little boys. Jerusha openly shares her health struggles and her role as a special needs mom at Beauty in the Broken. Jerusha describes herself as a “mom of two, friend of many, encourager of everyone.” Her blog and her stories depict those words with the same beauty that is reflected in her warm and friendly smile.
Kathleen Bailey Duncan is one of the newest friends I have made in the blogging world. The minute I first visited her blog at kathleenbduncan I was touched by her story where she speaks honestly and openly about her journey from grief and loss to grace and healing. Kathleen says she never planned to write or speak publically, but in obedience, she is walking through doors that God has opened for her to bring hope and healing to others who are living with a tragic and unexpected loss of a loved one. Kathleen is the author of two books and a Bible study, and you can find out about those here.
Kelly Sallee-Stackenwalt is the publisher of an amazing brand new faith based magazine. Southern Faith Magazine made its debut this summer in July. Talk about heeding the call to get “out of the boat and walk on water” with Jesus! But that is the kind of determination this sweet southern girl from Kentucky lives by. I have come to know Kelly just in recent weeks, and I hope you will get to know her as well. Hear her heart for what she believes God wants to do through this magazine she has been called to oversee. I feel privileged to be able to support Kelly to reach as many souls for the Kingdom through the stories in this magazine. The next publication is set for October.
April, Tammy, Jerusha, Kathleen, and Kelly…ladies I want to say THANK YOU from my heart to yours for bringing a bit of hope in your corner of the world. It is my privilege to know you as fellow bloggers, but it is a joy filled blessing to know you as my sisters in Christ. I pray God’s mighty hand of favor on all you do. Keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep persevering. Everything you do is making a difference, and the Father is well pleased. Now, girls, it is your turn. Go out and find some other women that have impacted you through their writing as well. Simply follow the guidelines below and have some fun!
Guidelines for the Blogger Recognition Award:
- Thank the blogger who nominated you in your new post about the award.
- Write a post to show a photo of your award.
- Give a brief story of how your blog started.
- Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
- Select (up to ) 15 other bloggers for this award.
- Comment on each blog to let your nominees know you nominated them. Be sure to provide a link to the post you created in the comment.
PS: If you were inspired by this post leave a comment. Think about how you too can be the kind of woman who COMPLETES rather than competes with other women. Cheer someone on today. Girls, we all need one another. We are stronger together and the strand will not be easily broken!