Monday, December 31, 2012

Blog Reflections of 2012: My Top Read Posts

Today, I wanted to reflect on my top read posts of 2012. Since you are reading this, in all likelihood you have already read these posts but I have linked them just in case. It was interesting to see what made my most read list. I keep telling my husband that he is very popular since his post is the most popular (the one that I wrote to him on our 19th anniversary.) As I glance over the top posts, I see that they have this in common: relationships. Grandparents to grandchildren, women friendships, About Me posts (which is blog readers building a relationship with this blog author), and my most read post is about marriage.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

My 5th most popular post of this year:
Vision of a Legacy. I wrote this post when I saw how my father-in-law would smile big at my children -- his grandchildren -- when they came into his ICU room. With the rest of us, he would try so hard to communicate what he would want us to do. With them, he would smile, listen, and laugh. So good for his soul. This was my pondering about those smiles of his.

The 4th most popular:
Make new friends, but keep the old. I wrote Part I on this post and I have yet to finish Part II. Oops! Thanks for waiting. This post is about friendship. It is good for me to reflect on the many friendships the Lord has given me through the years. I, too, get lonely, feel left-out, and want a closer friend. But truly, I have been given so much in this area. It takes pondering about it to realize it. So, thinking about friends is good for my soul like scrap-booking is good for my soul. Both requires me to meditate on the good gifts I've been given. I should do this more often.

The 3rd most popular post:
100 Things About Me: Part II.  I actually finished this part II. Thank you to all those that read all 100 items. Only one-fourth of those that read Part I, read Part II. It helps keep the humility in-tact. But, just in case you missed it. Here it is!

The 2nd most popular post:
Celebrating My 100th Post by Telling Everyone 100 Things About Me. I enjoyed composing this post. It is quite lengthy but truly helpful if you're really, really, really wanting to know about the author of this blog. Actually I do like reading posts like this on other blogs, that's the reason I felt free to indulge myself here.

And a big drum roll please for the top read post in 2012:
19 reasons I Love My Husband on our 19th Anniversary. Not only was this my top read post that I wrote in 2012, it is also my most popular post ever, by more than 300%. I love my husband. I love us. I love our marriage. So the popularity of this post causes me to think about writing more about this topic. I might just do that.

The following are the remaining runner's up to complete a Top 11 List: Not all of the Top Posts were about relationships I did include a recipe, book list, and some numbers. But even among these, it is mostly about numbers.

Dreaming of Books;  (Curriculum Planning Worksheet included!)
20 Things About Living in TN for 20 years;  (Would love more insight into this!)
Quick & Easy Mac & Cheese for the Masses;
 When God Calls, God provides; (About our Foster Care endeavors)
Empty Room, Empty Heart;  (About our Foster Care endeavors)
When Coca-cola Made Me Cry; and (About my Father-in-law) About
Siblings Round the Table at Days End (A Poem About Grief & Siblings)

Happy New Year!  
Linking with Jen. Click HERE to check out some great encouragement.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A year ago

Our Christmas 2012 photo: the six of us on vacation this summer. 
A year ago--almost to the day--I slipped on a step, twisted my knee, and needed rehab. No surgery needed, no exciting story to tell, just four months of physical therapy. That was December 27th, 2011.

Then, on the first Sunday of 2012, way back in January but just a few days after my injury, my pastor's wife felt compelled to read a devotional to the congregation. It was about how the Shepherd breaks the leg of  a sheep that wanders so that it learns to stay close to the Shepherd instead of wandering off all of the time.

It struck a chord with me even though I didn't feel like I had been wandering. Yet, my leg was wounded. I had a knee brace, crutches, and was arranging to have an MRI taken. Though I didn't know what it was, I had that sense it was a word from the Lord for me and so I trusted that in time it would be revealed how I had been wandering off.

Now, as I reflect on the year of 2012, I see that the Lord needed to draw me close to His heart for those  months. It wasn't due to sin & rebellion but rather it was preparation for future paths. I would desperately need easy recognition of His voice in the days ahead.

Without any official training, we would become foster parents for nine weeks. For a little over three weeks, we had eight children, for an additional five or so weeks we had five kids. It was an education on many levels. The most important lesson being about the provision of God. He sustains and works through me even when there is nothing left. Truly, that is when His best work usually occurs: when there is nothing left of me. At the very least I recognize it better because I know it definitely isn't me.

In the summertime, we had a small reprieve from unusual circumstances in which we crammed in as much fun as possible. Then, we returned to another crisis -- my father-in-law in the hospital trying to breathe after brain surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor. It has been 15 weeks, over three months. There has been healing and hope in the midst of many setbacks.

What I didn't know in January is how much I would need the Lord and how drained and empty I would feel by the time October rolled around. That was only six weeks into a still on-going trial. How hard it has been to remain daily in the Word. How hard it has been to remember to pray before meals This is from childhood, folks! I grew up giving thanks before every meal. It's what we do. It's kind of like forgetting to brush your teeth. (Now that I say that I have forgotten that a time or two, as well, but not nearly as often as giving thanks.) How could it be that I have forgotten my way in this?

The Lord is kind, gracious, and forgiving. I'm glad that I have been reminded of where I was in December of last year and all that He has brought my family and I through. He goes before us and behind us. I am so thankful. He gives friends and family to support and some really great memories mixed in with the hard stuff. He loves us. He heals us. He takes us through trials. He grows us.

May I stay close to the Shepherd always, no matter the circumstance.

* * *
How about you? Have you gotten caught up in end-of-year reflections? 
Any insight you want to share?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An overflowing life

Isn't it funny how look at all that I am blogging now...can just shut the blog posts from coming?!? Or could it be...that since I last posted, I have driven to and from

5 choir concerts

and 1 piano recital

1 choir rehersal

2 piano lessons

2 birthday parties

attended an Adoption Party

driven to AWANA

taught Worldview, Pre-Alegebra, Fractions, Not Equal & Equal, phonics, spelling

read aloud King Arthur and
work with the kids on how-to-play Chess unit study

been to visit my father-in-law in the hospital several times

written caring Bridge updates, called the hospital, 

had my contacts checked

had friends over for lunch

exchanged children for sleep-overs

had a 13 year-old's birthday party where my nails got done in a painting contest 
(and we had girls sleep-over, while the boys slept somewhere else)

and worked feverishly to finish my first digital on-line scrapbook, which I did 
& I ordered it to use my first-everGroupon

but it wasn't the project that I've been working, working, working on: which is 
2012: the year of Nutzo on Steroids in a photo album
only 969 photos on 78 digital pages that I am trying to condense into something affordable

i've also been directing each Sunday an Advent celebration for our small church
with the children in grades 2-9

that's all that I have been doing
instead of blogging 
or Christmas shopping 

What kind of craziness has come your way this December? 

may God's grace cover all


Saturday, December 1, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to a blog post...

A funny thing happened on the way to a blog post.
I read Rachelle Gardner's post "Should All Authors Blog?"

She said 'no, not all authors should blog.'
And you know what happened?

She said ...(many specific things that I encourage you to read on your own.... I'm only highlighting what  impacted me)...

...she said not to blog especially if you are constantly wondering what you should blog about and if you have been blogging for a year or more and the traffic doesn't seem worth it

I am that person!

Two of out of the five reasons were definitely me. I am constantly wondering what the focus of my blog should be. I have been blogging for over a year with very little traffic. I had two of the five reasons not to blog.

So you know what happened?

I started posting more than ever. Isn't that hilarious?!

Since her post dated on October 22, I have posted 10 times (including this one). Plus, I added an About Me page. 

Whew!  Nothing like having the pressure off to this "author" to free up my blog writing. I'm not even an author, yet. I have always dreamt of being one. I have a novel in my head. I have started it. I am eager to make progress on it. But...I am a long ways from needing that author's platform. I'm okay with that. But apparently it was hindering my writing.

Now, I'm not reading how to grow my traffic or how to meet the needs of my readers.
Instead, I'm writing.
Writing with no expectation.
Writing because I love writing.
Writing a blog because I love having an interactive audience. It's amazing how a few commenters keep me going. It is motivating to write more when someone is reading.

I think it just turned my 'have-to' into a 'get-to' as Michael Hyatt describes so well in his blog post HERE

Funny how the encouragement not to blog if it wasn't working for you was the inspiration to blog.

Thanks, Rachelle, because it sure feels good to write.
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