On March 4, 2015, this blog was officially birthed. I’m not sure I smiled out of fear of being vulnerable but I’m quite sure God smiled. And He has continued to smile over us here at EPFH throughout the last 99 posts. This is post 100. Wow! Immeasurable blessings!
As I reflect on the previous 99 posts and the conversations and opportunities that have happened as a result, I smile. My whole heart smiles. I love this space. I love that you join me here. I especially love that God joins me here. It has been a labor of love from the start. Read the first post here. I’ve been convinced from the very beginning that this blog was to be a place to share stories to hopefully fill hearts. I think some of your hearts have been filled but if not, mine certainly has. I am confident that this blog is an act of obedience to my God-given calling to write.
EPFH has afforded me friendships I didn’t expect, techy type knowledge I could have never dreamt of, a place to call mine, personal growth and some incredible opportunities. Not one post on this blog has been published without prayer and guidance. Sometimes the Publish button comes with a gentle “Thank you, God.” and sometimes an anxious “Help me, God!”, but God is always in it. I don’t want to do this on my own. I can’t do this on my own. There is so much talk in blog land about building platforms and growing your readership and increasing your numbers, etc. etc. etc. I know that numbers are important to some degree because as I’ve said before, numbers reflect hearts, but I struggle to not get caught up in all of that. So if 3 people read this today or 300,000, I’m ok with that. I want to stay true to the story, His story/my story, the sharing of it and the ability for it to fill hearts. That is my focus.
“I’m not looking for a platform, but I do have something to say.” ~Christi Baker
So, it’s Friday, which means that there is a Friday Five LinkUp party going on over at Mrs. Disciple. I can’t pass that up so I’m reflecting on my five favorite smiles for this 100th post today. Pop over to Kelly’s blog for a host of other shared smiles. We can’t have too many of those, right?
As I thought about which direction to go in for this 100th post I found myself thinking back to our kid’s school days. They used to celebrate 100th day like it was 1999. For the week leading up to it, or maybe even longer, we counted everything out in 100’s. 100 m&m’s, 100 pennies, 100 clouds, 100 toothpicks, 100 peanuts … I found myself wanting to go back and read all of the previous 99 posts here. I did read a lot of them and I love them all!! They all reflect stories that came from straight from our contributor’s hearts to yours. I have to believe that brings a smile to God’s heart as well. I hope you’ll go peruse some of the older posts. Maybe some from the beginning if you are a recent EPFH friend. Type in a random word in the categories box and see what comes up. Or type in a word that reflects something you’re going through today and see if a story comes up that encourages you.
I hope these five smiles will prompt you to reflect on what makes you smile. What brings you joy. Everything doesn’t always have to be good. Rarely is everything in life going good, right? But if we look for smiles, I bet we can find them. Smiles all around!!
Smile 1 – Friendships: I started this blog days before I got the email saying I was chosen to be a part of Jen Hatmaker’s book launch team for For The Love: Fighting For Grace In A World Of Impossible Standards. The blog’s conception and the launch team were not initially connected at all. They certainly became connected, though. As a result of being a part of the team, a group of writer’s branched off and became encouragers, promoters, information seekers and information givers, and friends. I have been fortunate to meet several of these writers in person over the last few months as well as others from the main team. Some are cyber friends, some are “in real life” friends, but one thing is for sure, my friendship base has grown by leaps and bounds since this blog began. For the love of books. For the love of writing. For the love of friendship. I came to you and you welcomed me.
Smile 2 – Knowledge: I’ve been blogging since 2008. My husband started the blog first and I followed and learned and then when it got to be more than he wanted to keep up with I took it over and turned it into a family journal of sorts and a place to tell a few stories. I’ve had a few other blogs since then, a family adventure/cyber hospitality type blog and also a recipe blog that I use mostly for personal recipe storage for easy access for me and our grown kids. I know general blog techy stuff and I can get by but since the conception of this blog, I have made it a point to participate in webinars, seminars, conferences, summits and am a part of several writer’s groups for information gathering and networking. Honestly, that gets overwhelming at times and I have to pull back and find a good story to tell. Every day I learn something new. Something I needed that I didn’t know I needed. More than anything, though, I’ve learned that I will never learn it all. I must pace myself and keep writing sentences.
Smile 3 – A Place To Call Mine: This one might be a bit tricky to explain. I hope you’ll read my heart here and not take my words out of context. Here goes… At my age I’m on a journey of self-discovery. It seems a bit ridiculous but, in a nutshell, I basically went from being a daughter to being a wife to being a mom and a wife. As I get precariously close to being in my empty nest I don’t think that I lost myself in those years of wifeing, mothering, and serving but I am discovering that now, I find myself to be bit lost. Not sure where I’m headed or what lies ahead. That’s both thrilling and terrifying depending on the day. I don’t regret who I was in the past or what I did back then or who I was but life is being drastically redefined for me in this season and I’m finding that what I used to call mine, I am having to let go. It’s the bitter part of a sweet life. I don’t call this blog “mine” very often because it is a contributor blog and I very much want it to have an “us” environment. Having this blog, this space that I started up, offers me a place to call my home for some of my words which also offers me loads of comfort and endless smiles. I’m blown away at God’s gift to me through this little corner of the interweb. I love being here. I think I’ll sit and stay for a while. Stay with me, will you?
Smile 4 – Personal Growth: I have learned so much about myself through this blog. Through seeking, through learning, through feeling, through trying, through failing, through the wins and through the losses. I have learned that criticism makes me stronger. It fuels my calling rather than quenches it. I’ve learned to work very hard to not forget why I’m doing this. Why I’m doing anything. What my purpose is. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. I’ve learned that I am better than I thought I was. I’ve learned that I can write better than I thought I could. I’ve learned that I will never arrive so there is always room for growth. I’ve learned that in the trying, some things work and some don’t but if I don’t try I am sure to fail.
“The thing you never try, always fails. ~Jon Acuff”
I sat next to a sweet older lady at a speaker/writer conference. When our breakout was over I asked her to tell me her story, why she was here. She said she had just retired from a long career and was pursuing something new. She wanted to be a speaker. I was so inspired. At almost 50 myself, I hope that something I do inspires someone else to know that it’s never too late. If we’re still breathing, there is still time to live. I’ve learned that I’ve had to go through everything I’ve gone through in the past to get here.
Smile 5 – Opportunities: Goodness, where do I even begin??? So many amazing opportunities have presented themselves as a result of being a part of the launch team and having this blog has enhanced those opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. Even as I write this post, I got an email from someone asking if they could call me today to discuss a potential opportunity. Because I’ve opened myself up and allowed fresh winds to blow, I’ve networked with people I would have never dreamt of having connections with, learned more than I ever thought I needed to know and had the sheer honor to guest post on other blogs which I do not take for granted at all. I have good friends who are good writers and they make me better. This adventure has also afforded me some incredible freelance opportunities that have brought in a little cash and a lot of validation to my writing and credibility to my calling. But the most satisfying opportunity of all is you. YOU make me smile. The fact that you, Tori, Randi, Kadi and Jennifer have joined me in emptying your heart here and that you, yes you, are reading this, all the way at the end, makes my heart smile. Knowing you, doing life with you, sharing with you is my best opportunity. Thank you!!
100…. you are published. Onward…