Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Best of 2014 ~ #TheLoft

Hello, Loft crew!  We made it through another week – whew! 🙂  Did you find it hard to choose a favorite from 2014 to share?  I certainly did.

I think I’m finding myself as a writer more this year, and so the choosing was difficult because I actually like some of what was written.  That’s an exciting thought, but also a little scary because it means I’m putting more of my real self out there.

In the end, it was a close tie between the post where I talked about my fat-girl insecurities and another one.

Since I’ve already shared about my fat-girl insecurities with The Loft crew, I decided to share something from earlier this year about choosing the struggle, fighting the fight, even when it feels like we might not be winning.  Look for it in the link-up.

I can’t wait to read YOUR best from this year, too!

Jen 🙂

If you are new here and want to join in, it’s an easy week to do so.

Just follow the instructions below.

We’d be happy to have you as part of our community of writers!

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

This Week’s Topic: “Potluck: Best of 2014” (Link up your best post of 2014. “Best” is defined loosely!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Christmas Traditions” (Tell us how you celebrate this rich holiday.)

 

About #TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

While there are many link and leave blog hops out there, we are different in that we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic. This fosters community and conversation. It also helps us practice “topic” writing as bloggers. Please mention The Loft in your post so we can find each other. Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic 🙂

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find and share with each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

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Best Blogging Tips

Faithful readers, I promised you a post earlier this week and life just got in the way.  However, I do have some great tips to pass along to those of you who are bloggers, so even though I’m very late with this post, I want to be sure it gets to you.  Better late than never, right? 🙂

When I first began blogging, I really had no idea what a huge industry the blogosphere is. I never “followed” any blogs before that time. I had no idea bloggers could earn income from their posts. I hardly even knew what a blog was.  So, why create a blog?

It was purely out of obedience to the Lord, honestly. No, He did not speak in a loud clear voice saying, “Jen, I want you to create a blog.”  However, He did use the Holy Spirit to convict me of neglecting one of the gifts He had given to me.  I was too overwhelmed to imagine writing a book or for any other sort of publication right away since I had not “practiced” writing in such a long time.  Thus, from what little I knew about blogs, creating one of my own seemed a simple, inexpensive, and the least terrifying way to walk forward in obedience.

To read more about my blogging journey thus far (a year and a half in!), check out the “For the Writers” tab on my sidebar or click here.  I would suggest starting with My Monday Morning Confession as it was my first post ever!  You might also read A Blogger’s Prayer to see what I have learned so far from this faith walk online.

I think I’ve been most surprised that rather than using the material the Lord gives me to encourage others (which is what I first expected), He so often uses the writing to encourage me!  Although others might find the words here encouraging, as is my deepest desire, even if no one else read them, this journey would be well worth it solely for the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

As a “seasoned” blogger of a year and a half (ha!), I do have some more practical blogging tips to pass along to you:

Pinterest – once I learned the value of creating a somewhat “pinnable” image, I began to receive most of my traffic from pinterest. In fact, this past month, I received close to a thousand views daily from a single post (The Pumpkin Gospel) that is doing well on pinterest simply because of Halloween.  I rarely reach that number even on a good day, normally. That’s the power of pinterest, my friends!

What I know about creating “pinnable” images:

The better the lighting, the more attractive they are to the eye, as far as Pinterest goes. Lighter images tend to work more effectively than darker ones.  Also, collage-type images (several pictures together) are more eye-catching. A good description also helps the reader to click through to the actual blog post.  I recently started using hash-tags, as well.

I’m no pro at creating pinnable images, but what little I can do has helped tremendously.  Therefore, I try to always include a photo of some sort in each post for easy sharing on pinterest. Sometimes when I don’t have an image that goes along with the theme of the post, I just include something beautiful from nature.  I keep my camera in my purse to capture scenery along the way; this allows me to avoid the issue of photo rights altogether, which is just easier for me.  Lately, I’ve really enjoyed adding verses to beautiful photos using either picmonkey.com or ribbet.com (photo editing websites).  Someday I would love to learn photoshop! 🙂

Pinterest works well for me because I liked it  and used it even before I started blogging.  Twitter, on the other hand, is another story altogether…

Key-words and phrases – recently I’ve been learning more about how search engines work and am working on including more key-word phrases, especially earlier on in my blog posts.  This helps anyone who is searching for information on a specific topic to find your blog post.  I have one post in particular that does well from searches, and that is How to Love When You Feel Unloved.  I usually receive several hits daily from that post ever since I updated it with a pinnable image and some bolding on key words and phrases.

This is another area in which I have plenty of room to grow, as I’m still learning and probably always will be. 🙂

I just learned this past week NOT to include a picture before the words in your blog post.  If you’ve followed Being Confident of This for very long, you know I’ve been guilty of this, so I have many past posts to make changes to.  Apparently, google and other analytic programs scan the first words of a blog post, and when you include a picture first, they end up reading a bunch of html code rather than the topic of your post.  I read about that here.

For more practical blogging tips, I suggest pinterest as a wealth of information.  I have a board just for Blogging that contains even more information than I have shared here. Some of it I haven’t even had time to look at or use. Some of it is easy to incorporate once you know how. I’m sure some of the other hosts have similar boards, as well. 🙂

 My Best Blogging Tip

My best blogging tip, however, has nothing to do with pinterest or even with the mechanics of blogging. My best tip is to avoid getting caught up in blogging perfectionism. As I mentioned above, I knew so very little about blogging when I first began. My only desire was to have a space to write that wasn’t too intimidating, in obedience to the Lord.

However, once I learned about linky parties and began reading other blogs, I began to realize I knew literally nothing.  And after a month or so, the desire to be “successful” started to creep in. I became concerned about things that I never even knew to be concerned about before.  Blogging became a lot less about glorifying Christ and more about glorifying my own meager abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, learning how to blog well or write well isn’t wrong in and of itself, but I think it can quickly become an “idol” in our lives if we allow it to.

 

best blogging tips, tips for bloggers

 

So my best blogging tip is simply this – fix your eyes on Jesus.

If you have time and the inclination to learn some of the rest of it along the way, great.  But don’t lose the vision He’s given you to the trappings of blogging perfectionism. Write in faith instead.

Trust Him to guide you to the “right” content, my sisters in Christ. Trust Him to bring you the “right” audience.

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Jen 🙂

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A Lift for the Soul (and #TheLoft)

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

This week at #TheLoft , we’re sharing our favorite online sources of inspiration and encouragement.

If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you know that we have faced many struggles in the past year, and I spent a lot of time waiting on the Lord.  In times of darkness, the Lord has provided many sources of light, and one of those sources has been some of the blogs I follow online.

My sisters, we all face dark moments, days, weeks, perhaps even years.  But I’ve learned from this last year that the most discouraging feeling is that of being alone in your struggles. It’s the Enemy’s greatest weapon and he uses it liberally.  When we feel alone, we also feel ashamed, afraid to own up to our weaknesses, afraid that something is wrong with us, afraid that brokenness might be the end of the story.

But the body of Christ was made for community!  We crave it, do we not? And when we drag those weaknesses out into the Light, they don’t seem quite so scary or overwhelming. When we realize we’re not alone, we begin to experience hope for brighter tomorrows.

 

#TheLoft,  inspiration, bloggers, writers, women of faith, encouragement

 

And that’s why I appreciate the ladies I’m going to share with you today, because they help me realize that I’m not alone. No, I’m not. And you’re not alone either, sister, whatever you may be going through!

One of the first bloggers I ever chose to “follow” was Alia Joy @ Narrow Paths to Higher Places.  I discovered Alia through Five Minute Friday, a free-writing exercise for bloggers that takes place every Friday (well, Thursday night for some). Her writing is beautiful, full of imagery and depth. But even more than that, I appreciate that she doesn’t wear a mask; she doesn’t sugarcoat.

She’s brave and honest, even about the ugly parts of life. She’s not afraid to tackle tough issues, either, but even then, the manner in which she does so doesn’t smack of preachiness at all.  She has a way of drawing the reader in to both herself and to Christ. Yes, I can identify with Alia Joy.

Another blogger I really appreciate is Angie Knutson, who also happens to be my cousin. She’s a blogging pro who started out writing about kids’ products for companies like Tommy Nelson and Alex Toys , so you can find all sorts of parenting and homeschooling excellence on her site. However, she’s currently in the middle of transitioning her blog to be able to write more of what is on her heart.  And what is on her heart is Christ!

I like Angie’s writing because it is true to her character, and I probably admire her even more because I know how she lives her real life. 🙂  She is another transparent blogger who isn’t afraid to share her own struggles. I find her devotional posts uplifting and encouraging and appreciate that she uses scripture to back up what she’s writing.

One last blogger I want to be sure to share with you is Jennifer Camp @ You Are My Girls, whom I also found through Five Minute Friday.  Jennifer is a Christ-follower who is talented at reminding women of who we are in Christ.

Jennifer encourages freedom, and community, and story-sharing, and all sorts of other excellent things.  Her writing speaks to my soul and inspires me to want to live totally surrendered to the Father!

I could share quite a few more but lack the time and the space.  I hope you find someone here who can encourage you as you walk with the Lord!

Be ever in His Presence.

Jen 🙂

P.S. Don’t forget to link-up below if you wish!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

#TheLoft

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

Then, Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the link goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

Listening is a lost art. Especially in the blogosphere where everyone wants to be heard.

At The Loft, we know that listening is rewarding and rich… surprisingly so. So we want to provide an opportunity for Christian bloggers to speak and listen, grow and be encouraged. We invite you up to the Loft, an out of the way upper room where we’ll talk, laugh, learn, and leave a little bit changed.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

To Participate:

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic.

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and hashtag in your post and social media so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

The Loft Link Up

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 6 blogs (only 5 this week)! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Leah

Kathy

Arabah

Jen

Rebekah

Now it’s time to link up!

This Week’s Topic: “Blogs that Inspire” (Since we all love blogs and bloggers, tell us what blogs or websites you go to for inspiration. Why do you love the blogs you love? Are there certain writing styles you are drawn to? Topics? Personalities? Spill the beans and then check out what other’s are saying too.)


Next Week’s Topic: “Greatest Insecurity” (We are going vulnerable here, asking you to share your greatest insecurity. How do you recognize it when it creeps up? What does insecurity sound like to you: What do you do to silence it? Any scriptures that help you fight it?)

 

Click through below to share your link!

Sharing this post with: Missional Women

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A Blogger’s Prayer

This weekend marked the one month birthday of this blog, Being Confident of This.  It’s a blog I started, but I’ve decided not to call it my blog anymore because it really isn’t.  It’s God’s blog. The reason I say it’s His blog is because He’s done greater things for it in this short time than I could have ever imagined!

I’m happy to tell you that today “Being Confident of This” is being featured on two other blogs! Exciting! 🙂  My cousin, Angie, at http://www.angieknutson.com/ has been a huge help to me in my blogging journey this far.  She has a wealth of knowledge and has been kind enough to share it with me, in spite of her own busy schedule, on multiple occasions.  I really appreciate her support! Tomorrow she’ll be sharing a brand new post from me about how to handle dreary mornings, so stay tuned for that!!

So far, He’s used this blog to reach others, but even more, He’s used it to reach me.  How often do we set out in life to lead others, to teach them, only to realize we are being taught ourselves?  That’s how I feel about this whole blogging experience so far. 🙂

A Blogger's Prayer

So, here’s my prayer as I continue on in this journey:

I see what you did there, God.  I see how you used that post about Mary Moments in a Martha World to remind me that the best thing is spending time with you.  I see how the post about  being a Transformer convicted me to live out truth in love.  I see that the biggest flaw in our Sanity Saving Chore Charts is whether or not we as parents are consistent in our follow-up.

At the same time, Lord, I’m learning that I have to be careful with this blogging thing.  I heard my little boy the other day when he said I was spending too much time on the computer. I know I need to watch how much time I pour into this.  I have to find balance between my time with you and blogging and family and church.  It’s not easy, but I know You’ll help me.  I see now that it’s part of the process, part of that work in progress.

Father, I’m also learning that you just want me to be me and to trust You to give me the words to say.  When I try to create a fabulous post on my own – it flops. 🙂  When I trust You for the message, it soars.  I see how that works, God, and I’m trying to get out of the way so that You can use me.

I am the vine

I also see, Lord, the potential to find my worth in the numbers (now I know what my pastoring husband feels like!).  I don’t want numbers to be a measure of who I am.  I want who I am to be found in You alone.  Help me to be obedient to You in sharing the messages You give without worrying about how many people are visiting today, tomorrow, or the next day.  Help me to remember that the value is in the obedience to You.

Most of all, Lord, I want to remember that it was Your idea to create this blog, not mine!  Like anything else in my life, it ultimately belongs to You.  Help me to surrender that control!  Help me to remember that You can bring an audience all on Your own with no help from me.  I’m simply the vessel.  Make me a humble vessel.

Thank You, Father, for this amazing journey.

In Christ alone,

Jen 🙂

What is God teaching you lately?  If you feel free to share, leave a comment! 🙂

Also linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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