Tag Archives: Google Reader

A Life of Words: @MonicaSharman

Name of blog: Know-Love-Obey God (http://monicasharman.wordpress.com)

Your Name:  Monica Sharman       

Your Twitter: @monicasharman

Your Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/monica.sharman.5

NH: Why did you pick that name?

MS: My deepest desire is greater intimacy with God, and I think “Know-Love-Obey” is a good way to summarize that intimacy.  It’s a kind of whirlpool cycle that feeds on itself: Knowing God leads to loving God.  I show I love God by obeying God.  Obeying God leads to knowing God better (and the cycle goes on).  I wrote about this in more detail here: http://monicasharman.wordpress.com/intimacy-with-god/

NH: What prompted you to begin blogging?

MS: It was a desire to participate in the poetry community I found at High Calling Blogs (now The High Calling).  Also, a friend said I should. :)

NH: What kind of blogs did you first write?

MS: My first posts were poetry (see above) and also thoughts that I transferred from my private quiet-time journal that I write when I spend time with God in His Word.  Eventually I added community writing projects and book clubs (with The High Calling or T.S. Poetry).

NH: What mistakes did you make when you first blogged?

MS: I was embarrassed to be a writer.  I didn’t even tell my husband about it until later.

NH: What was your worst blog post in the beginning? Your best?

MS: My worst posts from an internal perspective are always the ones that I write with the motive of gaining attention or being appreciated.  Similarly, my best posts are the ones I write with un-selfconsciousness and eyes fixed on Christ (instead of myself).

NH: What are your top 5 favorite blogs to read?

MS: I read blogs for community, so I like to read blogs of people I know.  It’s hard to mention “top” choices, but here are five that I subcribe to (either via email or Google Reader):

aholyexperience.com

gettingdownwithjesus.com

lauraboggess.com

simplydarlene.com

alittlesomethin.wordpress.com

NH: What inspires you to blog?

MS: Poetry prompts and personal Bible reading/study times.  Lately, our experience in the Waldo Canyon fire disaster inspired a few posts.

NH: When do you write your posts and how long do they take?

MS: Often, I directly transfer entries from my private (handwritten) journal that I write when I read the Bible.  Other times, I write with pen and scratch paper as I’m waiting for my sons’ swimming lessons or piano lessons.  Sometimes I write while backpacking.  Really, it’s whenever I have a pen and paper with me (which is almost all the time!).  I never know how long each one takes, but I often let a post sit for weeks or months before I look at it again and post it.  Except for the poems, every post was written several days (or longer) before I posted it.

NH: What is your brand?

MS: Uh-oh, I’m not sure what this means. :)  If it means “what defines me,”  then the blog title is my brand.  Truly, my greatest desire is to know God more.

NH: What was your worst comment? Your best?

MS: My blog visitors have been so gracious and generous with their words.  I don’t think I have a worst comment.  My best comments are the ones in which the commenter calls me “friend.”

NH: When your first comments came and they weren’t family or friends, describe that feeling.

MS: I was startled to realize the possibilities of global connection.

NH: Why do you blog now and how has that changed from your very beginnings?

MS: Poetry remains a primary reason.  Also, I blog to maintain relationships with the community I’ve connected with and to remind myself of some of the things God teaches me.

NH: Do you have any comments to add for people who want to start blogs? Any advice?

MS: Funny, someone recently asked me for this same advice.  I’ll just directly copy a portion of the email I sent her:

“I would suggest making your blogging purposes public (like on an “About” page or a “Why I Blog” or “Purpose Statement” page, or simply make your first post about it). This would 1) inform readers what you’re doing and why, 2) help keep you accountable to the God-directed purpose, 3) guide your every post so that the blog doesn’t become what it’s not supposed to become, 4) serve as a reminder to yourself, … (etc.)Write your posts carefully, prayerfully, and thoughtfully, knowing that anyone can read them. But at the same time, write without any expectations or assumptions that people will read them. Write as if no one but God is going to read them.”

NH: How many times a week do you post?

MS: About once a week.

NH: Are you a believer? If not, what religion do you believe in? If a believer, what denomination do you attend?

MS: I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Though I don’t particularly attach myself to a denomination, we are part of a fantastic church (1freechurch.org) in the Evangelical Free Church of America.

NH: Do people at your church or work know about your blog? What is their reaction?

MS: Only a few, I think, although I rarely get comments from people I regularly see in face-to-face.

NH: What was your family’s reaction when you wanted to begin blogging?

MS: Undramatic. :)  They know about it, but it’s not a regular part of our conversations.

NH: Did you ever write a blog that made someone feel hurt? How did you reconcile that or resolve that?

MS: Oooh, I sure hope not.  If so, I hope they would leave me a comment so that I can repair any relationship damage.

NH: What can we pray about for you?

MS: Wow!  Really?

Pray that I will be alert to God’s direction and that I will walk in His ways.  I often pray through Jeremiah 6:16 for myself:

Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is,and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls

NH: How many hours do you social network and/or blog per week?

MS: In the morning before breakfast, and here and there throughout the day.  I do a lot less during the school year.  (I teach home school for our sons.)

NH: How many readers do you get a month?

MS: My site stats don’t show the number of unique visitors, only the number of visitors.  I would guess somewhere in the 300-500 range.

NH: Anything else you’d like to share about your blog?

MS: Blogging has been a great way to receive gems from others.  I try to make sure I’m spending more time listening (reading others’ blogs) than talking (writing on my own blog).

Note From Nikki: The purpose of this series is to show the heart behind some of the many blogs I read. Most of them might be Christian, but some of them aren’t believers. On July 27, we featured author, Linda Yezak. With all the great articles out there about social networking, building your brand, and marketing ones self in the world, I wanted to put a different spin on things. This series will make an attempt to get at the heart of the blogger. I’m not asking for submissions. So please keep your comments to prayers for Monica, questions for her, or encouragement for her as she fulfills this calling. As Bonnie Gray once said, your comments are a gift.

A Life of Words: @LisaNotes

Name of blog:  Lisa notes

Your name: Lisa Burgess

Your Twitter: @LisaNotes

Your Facebook: HideHisWord—my scripture memory group with Do Not Depart

NH: Why did you pick that name?

LB: Because I write to note where I see God, and my blog is the place I keep these notes. Thus, Lisa notes (“notes” working as both a verb and a noun—I should mention I’m a grammar geek, although I’ll delightfully break any grammar rule as needed).

NH: What prompted you to begin blogging?

LB: I was fascinated to discover a venue online where I could store my writings and share good things I was reading about God. I had then and still have now an inner urge to put into words things I feel strongly in my spirit. I process my thoughts better when I write them out.

NH: What kind of blogs did you first write?

LB: Short quotes from books and Bible passages, followed by a little commentary.

NH: What mistakes did you make when you first blogged?

LB: I wasn’t personal enough. I hesitated putting myself too “out there” and boring people to death with me.

NH: What was your worst blog post in the beginning?

LB: Those where I would cram too many random thoughts from my daily Bible reading into a single post, like this: http://lisanotes.blogspot.com/2008/08/pour-on-salt.html

NH: Your best?

LB: Still searching for that elusive one. I personally benefited by the posts I wrote journeying through my dad’s death and my mom’s Alzheimer’s. I pray those posts help others as well.

NH: What are your top 5 favorite blogs to read?

LB: I have so many favorites in my Google Reader. As an information junkie, many favorites are those that are gateways to even more information, such as:

Challies

Take Your Vitamin Z

The Gospel Coalition

Desiring God

For writing/blogging tips:

Copyblogger 

ProBlogger

Daily Blog Tips

And I try to keep up with all my friends’ personal blogs (too many to list!). Oops—I’m way over five.

NH: What inspires you to blog?

LB: Seeing God reveal his grace in so many wonderful ways.

NH: When do you write your posts and how long do they take?

LB: I wish I had a set schedule; maybe in my next season. For now it’s random—I usually write when I can’t hold something in any longer. It can take 30 minutes up to however much time I’ll allow myself. The goal is to keep it to an hour or less, but I always long for more.

NH: What are your favorite comments?

LB: I’m blessed when readers say they’re encouraged by what I’ve written, and when they leave encouragement for me when I write about hard times. Just a few words here and there can make such a difference.

NH: When your first comments came and they weren’t family or friends, describe that feeling.

LB: Weird! Strangers will take time to read what I say?

NH: Why do you blog now and how has that changed from your very beginnings?

LB: I started sharing thoughts mainly from other authors. But now I understand blogging connects all our stories. Our blogs become gathering spots to establish genuine friendships and to encourage each other to hope in Jesus. So I’ve grown to include more personal stories on my blog and to read my commenters’ stories on their own blogs as often as I can.

I also have favorite memes that I participate in regularly, such as Soli Deo Gloria and Spiritual Sundays, and reading challenges like What’s on Your Nightstand and Spring/Fall Reading Thing. I love the friendships that arise out of these communities.

NH: Do you have any advice for people who want to start blogs?

LB: Blogging is a great journey!

1. Start now. Don’t wait until you get everything perfect (you never will). Just pour out what you’re thinking—and feeling—and publish.

2. Be kind. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want a particular “somebody” to read—you never know when your post may be forwarded to that very person.

3. Make it shorter. Mercilessly cut what might seem irrelevant to your readers. Stick with one main point per post.

NH: How many times a week do you post?

LB: Lately, 2-3 times a week, which is the lowest frequency since I started blogging in 2008 (I used to somehow post daily—and loved it). Ideally, I’d like to post 4-5 times a week. I hope to return to that schedule soon.

I also contribute a few posts a month at Do Not Depart. My favorites there are our scripture memory challenges (a new one will begin in August!).

NH: Are you a believer?

LB: By God’s grace, most definitely. I believe in Jesus as the Son of God and my rescuer. I am alive thanks to his mercy and am indwelled by His Spirit.

NH: Do people at your church or work know about your blog?

LB: Several of my friends tell me they read my blog, which both greatly encourages me and amazes me. I’m grateful. It also helps keep me accountable.

NH: What was your family’s reaction when you wanted to begin blogging?

LB: They had no clue (neither did I!) of how important it would become to me. Now they predict “This will become a blog post!” when we’re out and about. They accept my blog as an extension of who I am.

NH: What can we pray about for you?

LB: I never turn down answering this question! Please pray that I find and maintain a God-glorifying balance between writing, reading, and staying in the moment. If I fail to honor the Lord, I’ve wasted it all.

NH: How many hours do you social network and/or blog per week?

LB: I’m scared to count. Less than I used to, more than I need to, but I do enjoy it all. I’ve developed a love for many of my fellow-bloggers; they’re as real as the friends I see in “real” life so I like to spend time with them.

NH: How many readers do you get a month?

LB: More than I deserve. I try to avoid keeping track of the numbers.

NH: Anything else you’d like to share about your blog?

LB: I want it to be an instrument of God’s grace for all who stop in. Isn’t our journey easier when we help each other see the Lord? He gets the glory and we get a stronger faith, a win-win.

Thanks for asking, Nikki!

The purpose of this series is to show the heart behind some of the many blogs I read. Most of them might be Christian, but some of them aren’t believers. On July 19, we featured His FireFly. With all the great articles out there about social networking, building your brand, and marketing ones self in the world, I wanted to put a different spin on things. This series will make an attempt to get at the heart of the blogger. I’m not asking for submissions. So please keep your comments to prayers for Lisa, questions for her, or encouragement for her as she fulfills this calling. As Bonnie Gray once said, your comments are a gift.

What’s the Point?

Keyboard

My fingers rapidly typed the document. One page became eight. I hit ‘print’ and sat back to scan my work. I never realized the complications of becoming a writer more than when I attempted to write down the knowledge gained from reading industry blogs. Writing no longer means just typing up a good story. Now it means the writer must also get involved in the marketing.

Marketing means social networking. It means creating a community. I leaned back against my chair and cradled the back of my head in my hands and stared at the ceiling. My friend’s head will spin. The amount of information, of just beginning, will seem overwhelming. Something that’s a ‘have-to’ should be fun. Blogging is really no different from journaling. Social Networking is no different from attending a church social. Friendships spawn from the internet.

This internet has an amazing ability to break down the walls that normally exist in person. A friend recently blogged about a woman online who passed away. She blogged. That’s how they knew each other. His grief was real. I reflected on the friendships that I have acquired, the lives they have allowed me to see, and the exchange of prayers that have shined the light of God on our work. It’s not in vain this social networking thing. Some people scoff. Others claim the internet is of the devil. Businesses and some churches have learned to see the value in Social Networking. I see potential.

The most popular blogs are the transparent ones—the blogs that carry feeling, voice and sincerity. Those blogs have direction, a purpose, and draw the reader back. I’m thinking of Ann Voskamp, Bonnie Gray, Laura Boggess, Duane Scott, Jackbearandlillypad.com, Dan King, and others. My list is too long. They back up on my Google Reader and have become friendships to savor like the friendships in real life. Sure, friendships online are easier to cultivate. They require very little effort unlike live friendships. An email, and prayers said on their behalf, a few minutes of reading between jobs, but they are worth spending the time and leaving comments “like gifts,” as Bonnie Gray said in her Faith Barista newsletter; not leaving comments just to garner more readers.

If my purpose was just to collect readers and grow numbers my purpose would be shallow. I want to make my website more than a place to market my name. Yes, I have to social network; yes, I have to blog; but my Christian family live out there in the world from the shores of the West Coast to the still burning plains of Texas to the sands of Africa to the United Kingdom. We all need each other. The world seems small, but in our individual lives we feel small and the world feels big and lonely—a jungle of personalities, schedules, and problems. If my social networking and blogging help encourage someone, I am happy; in fact, ecstatic to be a part of something bigger than my life. So if someone scoffs at you because you blog, tweet, or social network just smile. They speak from ignorance. Until you get involved, you don’t know and people will always ask, “What’s the point?”

Have you scoffed? Or are you the one they scoff at?

Read, Study, Comprehend

 

“As I skim all the words around me, I’m comprehending less and less. And that’s not okay. Reading is not a skill I want to let go, blaming it on “this information society” or some such excuse. Especially when I realize that this shallow style of reading has even affected my Bible study. I struggle to be consistent with a daily quiet time, so this year I’ve been reading through a One Year Bible. But when you combine the Old Testament and a tendency to skim, you’ve got trouble!”  – Christmas Change, Mary Carver

Reflecting Him is a Bible Study that I began in August.  Obligating me to partake in this Bible Study helps to keep me in tune with God’s Word.  I have to agree with the writer above though—I skim—A LOT.  She has a hundred blogs to daily read.  I have lost count of my own daily reads.  What I have discovered though is how MUCH I comprehend when I study Reflecting Him in the quiet of the library or at home with the radio and television switched off.  When there are no distractions I better comprehend what I am reading especially if the reading is deep warranting a lot of my brain cells.

“Lately, I’ve been trying to organize and simplify my reading life. Removing blogs from my Google Reader, letting magazine subscriptions expire and paring down my list of novels to read is easier said than done, but I think it’s an important task.  First of all, it frees up my time, so my eyes and brain aren’t weary by the time I pick up my Bible. And secondly, it allows me to really focus on the most important stories – whether they come in the form of blogs, books, articles or Scripture.”

What do you do to get quiet time with God?  How do you study?  Won’t you join me on Monday, January 17 for my new column “Taking Notes Sunday?”   See details here.