Category Archives: Blogging

Apparently, I’m clairvoyant…

Remember when I wrote this?

“I’ll be the one swatting at imaginary gnats with one hand while holding a cupcake in the other.

At the time, I chalked it up to the ravings of a sleep-deprived, hopped-up-on-sugar Mama giddy at the prospect of 3 completely childfree days of fun at Allume.

What I didn’t realize is that those words were actually somewhat prophetic.

I thoroughly enjoyed each of the breakout sessions that I attended at the conference. But I only had the privilege of bringing one to a screeching halt. (Yes, you read that right).

Here’s how I achieved my .045 seconds of infamy:

On Friday afternoon, I had a meeting with a literary agent, so I spent a few minutes in my room writing down some thoughts for my pitch and praying about it, then I headed to a breakout session entitled “Competition vs. Community” (or something close to that) with a panel of wonderfully fantastic bloggers like Jen from Beauty and Bedlam, Lisa Jo Baker, and (if you’re a blogger, then this name will mean something to you) Tsh from Simple Mom. Yes, her.

I didn’t make it to the session until it was already in full swing, so I joined a little huddle of gals at the back of the room and proceeded to strain my ears to hear snatches of the wisdom these seasoned blogging pros were so graciously doling out.

smilebooth3

Thing was, this particular conference room was pretty big, with thick carpeting, sound-dampening wallpaper, and lots of bodies, and being at the back put us a good 30 feet away from the speakers. Sure, they wore a mike, but it didn’t seem to be helping much, especially since they were all handling it like it was a snake (as a fitness instructor who is used to wearing a hands-free mike when I teach, it was everything I could do not to holler, “EAT THAT THING!!!” as I watched them shy away from the receiver; probably best that I didn’t, huh?).

Other thing was, our little bunch was hovering right outside a door on the other side of which was, apparently, the world’s largest ice machine. It was close to lunch time, and we could hear the hotel staff through the door chattering and calling to each other as they prepared glasses for iced tea. So, yeah. Lots of ice crunching going on.

smilebooth4

So, from my perspective, the session went something like this: (muffled voice) “When bloggers are in community rather than competition, we have the potential to…” (CRUUUUUUUNCH) “especially as we come together and really emphasize” (crunch, Crunch, CRUUUUUUUUNCH) “which is great because the best thing we can all do for each other is” (CrunchCrunchCrunch).

Gah!

At a certain point, it was getting funny, and the girls around me and I were starting to giggle a little as inevitably the best part of a sentence we could barely hear would get obliterated by the crash of an ice bucket or the cacophonous roar of a million cubes being poured from one large container to another.

And then the fly showed up.

I don’t remember the exact moment of our meeting, but I vaguely recall flicking something annoying away from my face a few times as I squinted and leaned in, determined to get something out of this darn session.

The other ladies were doing the same, batting the pesky little critter away from their faces every few minutes or so.

But then, Mr. Mosca developed a full-on stalker crush on me and proceeded to go for my eyes with the same kind of fervor that Miley Cyrus seems to have for not wearing pants.

And I started swatting in earnest. He meant business. And so did I. Somewhere, I read the disgusting fact that flies will attempt to drink from the liquid in your eyes if they can somehow pull of such a ridiculously revolting-sounding trick. And I made up my mind that this fly was going to die of thirst before he got a drink out of me.

Somewhere during this epic throw down, I noticed that things were quiet(er). Much too quiet. I took one last swing at my foe and looked up to discover every last blogger from the panel gazing at me expectantly.

I froze.

Looked around at my fellow hall-hoverers in confusion.

And then Tsh said: “Can we help you?”

Every head in the room swiveled my direction, and the girls around me shrank away from me(so much for community).

Oh maaaaaaan.

“Th-there was a fly,” I stammered. Lame, lame, lame.

smilebooth5

The blogger panel exchanged glances that spoke volumes.

“You didn’t need something? We thought maybe you couldn’t hear in the back?”

(CRUUUUUUUUUUUUNCH!!!!)

I found my voice finally and said, “Um, well, actually we can’t. Thanks.”

And then I waved at all the curious faces and resisted the urge to flee. I stood my ground with flaming cheeks while the panel went back to talking. And for five whole minutes, thanks to a break in iced tea preparation and the fact that the speakers were trying to be louder, we could hear. And it was glorious. I was a (really weird and embarrassed) hero to my fellow hall-dwellers!

But then the mike got passed to somebody with the quietest voice ever, and the hotel staff started competing to see who could crunch the most ice per second, and I couldn’t hear anything again.

So, I left a little early to go find the publishing agent, certain that my dreams that night would consist of me, standing on a stage wearing nothing but fly-printed underwear, in a room full of bloggers.

(Crrrrrrruuuuuuuuuunch)

smilebooth6

P.S. Can you tell we had so much fun at the Smile Booth? Seriously. Best idea ever.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

5 Things Thursday: Confessions of a Feartrovert

Hi, my name is Abbie, and I’m a feartrovert.

(and, yes, I did just make that word up, as far as I know).

I mentioned on Monday that, although The Declare Conference was fabulous, I did not enjoy every single second of it. And then I told you that I would explain what I meant later. And I’ve been regretting saying that ever since.

Why?

Because I’m a feartrovert

(noun: one who allows social interactions to be tainted by fear or anxiety).

And, as soon as I said that, I realized that once I did explain, there was at least a 78% chance of my sounding like a maladjusted weirdo, which would, of course, result in your despising me and refusing to ever read my blog again and maybe spending actual minutes of your day telling others about what a weenie I am.

See? Total feartrovert. not given us a spirt of fear

I’ve been seeing this post debunking common myths about introverts popping up in a lot of my friends’ Facebook feeds and thought it was an interesting read, especially since I related to several introverted traits, even though I’ve never thought of myself as an introvert. Truth to tell, I’ve never thought of myself as an extrovert either. I’m not a big fan of labels, helpful though they often are.

Instead I just know things about myself—things like: I like being around people a lot, but I like being by myself just as much (if not more, depending on the day). I also get a bit jittery at the mere thought of conferences full of women, talking and sharing their feelings and going on about dreams. A big part of me would rather sit on the couch behind my computer screen and just chat with you guys. And even though I love meeting new people, after an entire day of it, I need an entire night of recuperation at home with my family.                                               {via}

Of course, none of these things are either bad or good. They just are. And I’m fine with that. I have been know to call myself “the most unsocial social person you will ever meet,” simply because I am likely to be the one telling stories at a party (which I enjoy) or even compulsively filling the awkward silences (which I do not), and I’ve always been a teacher and an entertainer (in a very small capacity), which feels natural to me. BUT I probably wouldn’t choose the situation that got me into story-telling mode over a night at home with my husband or sometimes even just watching a movie alone (which, yeah, never happens these days).

When a true extrovert tells me that they are energized just by being in a room full of people, I inwardly cringe a little, which tells me that—nope—that’s not me.

And when my sweet new friend, Heather, and I were having a conversation about the woes of pumping for our nursing babies while at conferences, she said that just such an occurrence had been an unexpected boon for her because it forced to her to take a break from all the socializing and just be alone with herself (and God) to process things, even though she would have never chosen to be away from the social buzz on her own. I had to laugh a little because it was the first night of the conference, and I’d already snuck away to my room twice to hide a little. Not sure I processed much other than: is it too late to just go home?

Are you surprised to know this about me? My own mother was when I told her about the sneaking-away-to-my-room bit. I know I don’t come across as introverted in any way here (or in “real life”), and I’m not even sure if I am, but what I do know is that whenever I bypass introverted and extroverted altogether and become feartroverted (because it’s certainly not a constant state), I am no longer being the complex, neither-this-nor-that-and-that’s-okay child of God I was created to be. I am no longer listening to the guidance of my loving Father who wants to use my specific personality to bring Him glory. Instead, I am heeding the Enemy’s lies.

Lies like:

1.

You’re not good enough.

On the surface, this isn’t such a heinous untruth. I am not good enough at many things to do them justice. For example, I am not good enough at math to be a theoretical physicist (heck, some days my brain is so mushy that I’m not good enough at math to make correct change). Nor do I want to be.

I am not good enough at singing to star on Broadway. And that’s fine.

But when I’m sitting on my hotel bed instead of attending a session because I’m not good enough to be out there mingling with other Christian bloggers, there’s something wrong.

Of course, the reasons I was sitting on that bed were much more complex than that. Because I know that comparison goes both ways, and I could probably find somebody out there that I felt better than to boost my morale from the blow it had taken after noticing all the people who seemed to be doing this blogging business so much better than I.

Another lie I believe when I give into the fear is that:

2.

You’ll never make it.

I don’t honestly even know what “make it” means. But as I rambled on to my husband, who was talking me down from my {mild} panic attack, my number one concern was the enormous amount of work and commitment and stress and work and time and—oh yeah—work it would take to achieve my dream of traditional book publication. I mean, howamIsupposedtopullthatoffwith5smallchildrenandcounting?? (Takes deep draught from imaginary inhaler). And what about all these people here who have “made it” and who are still having to work so hard to keep “making it?” Ugh. Do I even want that? Is that what I’m called to?

Which brings me to yet another fearful lie:

3.

No one would be interested in what I have to say anyway.

I mean, who am I? Just a mama. And not even a very good one at that. I mean, practically every other almost 3-year-old I know is potty-trained. Especially the girls. But not mine. What a slacker. Who am I to think I can tell anyone anything? Who am I to encourage anyone else to be a better Christian when I’m struggling to haul myself out of bed early enough to get my Bible reading done? Who am I to cheer fellow mothers on to discipline well when I just made a cutting remark to my 7-year-old for no good reason?

After all:

4.

I’m better off just giving up now.

I just need to lower my expectations. I’m clearly not cut out for this make-a-difference business.

Because:

5.

God would be better off using someone else.

…………………………………………………………………………….

Ouch, right?

Reading all of that, you’re probably amazed that I managed to peel myself off the bed and limp out the door to face a conference full of clearly better-than-me, over-the-top fabulous bloggers who were probably all laughing at me behind my back and rolling their eyes at my pathetic attempts to teach them anything.

The thing is, I was fine (better than fine!) for most of the conference. But pretty much all of those thoughts hit me hard and heavy during the15 minutes I spent making a few final tweaks to a presentation that I’d felt fantastic about 5 minutes before. I am so grateful that after I sent a mayday text to my husband, he called me immediately and let me pour my fears through my cell phone into his oh-so-wise ear.

perfect love As he encouraged me and prayed over me, I began to remember important truths…like: I am good enough to do anything that God has called me to do because He has made me good enough. It has nothing do with my own merit or talents (which He gave me, by the way) and everything to do with His grace. Because “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Also, I may never get a book published. And it is A LOT of work, but if I’m supposed to do it, and I’m willing to invest the effort necessary to do it well, God will be the one who determines whether I “make it” or not. Plus, as far as making a difference goes, as Shaun pointed out, if all I ever accomplished God ever accomplished through my writing was to encourage you in ways that you have already written and told me that He has, it would be enough. 

By the time I hung up, I was feeling much better. Why? Because my Father loves me, and one of the best ways He shows it is through my husband’s love for me. Love’s like that. It delights in building up, not tearing down. Because “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

When I give into my feartroverted tendencies, I am not walking in love. Not only that, but (and it feels so arrogant to say it) I’m missing out on my chance to be perfect. Not in the way that the world defines it, certainly. But in God’s eyes.

The feartrovert in me wouldn’t have let me leave that hotel room to give my “Making the Most of DIY Blogging” presentation—a topic which seems so trivial on the surface but which segued into a heartfelt conversation afterwards about balance and comparisons and expectations with a fellow young mama and a precious, seasoned Titus 2 lady who both admitted to struggling with all of the same issues but were determined to soldier on in their calling until such a time as God made it clear that they had a new one.

I write all of this for two reasons:

1) I need to hear it. It helps me to record it, acknowledge my tendencies, and then give them to God. I’m not wallowing. But I am being honest.

and

2) You need to hear it. Even though I attempt to keep it very real up in here, I still get the occasional, “You. are. Wonder Woman” comments. And, oh, how they make me laugh. In fact, during the Q&A after my session, one of the sweet ladies said, “Oh man. I feel so behind. I mean, here you are doing all this, and with 5 kids. And I’ve only got 3…” And I interrupted her and said, “You want to know what I was doing in my hotel room this morning? Hyperventilating. Because everybody here is so much more awesome than I am.”

Note to self: There is always someone that seems like they’ve got it more together than you do. And they just might. But you don’t know their story or the fears that Satan shoots at them like fiery darts hoping to send their God-given callings crashing down in flames.

Come to think of it…

Feartroversion is for the birds. I’d rather be a Godtrovert any day of the week.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Happy Bloggy Birthday to Five days…5 ways!

So, I don’t usually post on Saturdays, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sing myself a happy little bloggy birthday song (I may even have a cupcake to celebrate) because exactly one year ago today, I embarked on this journey called blogging.

And boy, has it been fun.

And hard.

And a pretty ridiculous amount of work at times.

I know that may sound silly considering that it’s just a little bitty speck of real estate on the internet where I show you my Goodwill finds and my children’s cuteness and rooms in my house that I’m proud of (after I’ve first moved all the debris that would normally be in the shot out of range so you won’t see it, of course).

But I rarely write a post in under 2 hours (and that usually doesn’t include photo-taking/editing, etc.), and there are plenty of other things that go along with blogging that have nothing to do with the “finished product” that you guys see (those of you with blogs of your own are nodding your heads right now).

I’m still learning more about all of those “other things” as I go…

But mostly, I’m learning to let go.

Blogging is hard for my personality.

I’m what I like to call a selective perfectionist. Which means I like things to be just so…in some areas.

And then I’m perfectly capable of letting others slide in ways that would horrify and mystify some of you.

I’m also competitive—used to be to a fault but now only to a sometimes annoying degree.

And above all with myself.

Sure, I compare myself with others just like everybody else does, and it never comes to any good since I either end up feeling woefully inadequate or full of ugly pride as a result.

But mostly, I compare myself to my own standards—what I think I could/should be accomplishing.

And I’m kind of hard on myself if I don’t measure up…to myself. (Confused yet?)

So, yeah.

Blogging, with all its built-in horn-tooting and numbers-counting is a dangerous thing for a girl who likes to set/achieve personal goals and then break her own records.

And there have definitely been times that I’ve gotten sucked into the blogging vortex of “have-to-itis.”

You have to do Twitter, or you won’t succeed.

You have to do lots of giveaways, or no one will like you (in the blog-world or on Facebook…Oh, for the days when liking someone meant you wanted to go to a movie with them).

You have to have amazing photos, or no one will even look at your posts.

You have to have a big week-long, blogiversary celebration, or no one will be impressed by your achievements (don’t get me wrong; I would have LOVED to have done that, but it just wasn’t a good use of my time right now, and I accepted that…that’s progress, right there, folks).

There have been times when I have stayed up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too late, ignored my children and husband, fretted over blog-traffic, counted links, done projects that I have no use for except to post them on the blog, and just generally worried way too much about this whole blogging business.

And that’s the bad.

The ugly.

The stuff I would love to pretend I’m above and way too mature for but totally am not when I let my perspective get skewed.

But it’s getting better.

In fact, I pretty much never check my blog stats anymore, (even though it’s very sound advice to know where your traffic is coming from so you can optimize those avenues and not expend effort on areas that don’t “grow your blog”).

And I genuinely don’t care too much if my “numbers” stall out (although I love getting new readers…not a single blogger in the world could say they don’t and tell the truth).

But it doesn’t rule me like it could (and has a times) if I’m not careful.

I know I’m not alone in these struggles because I’ve read a lot of posts in which the blogger bemoans his/her attachment to the instant gratification of increased numbers, social media interaction, and, perhaps most importantly of all, comments.

Apparently, it’s a human nature thing.

Which makes me even more grateful that I have a God who cares about me and my character enough that He sometimes reaches down and forces me to take a step back and reassess.

That’s what this pregnancy with twins has done for me.

Forced me to slow down, reevaluate where my limited energy can be best spent, and look ahead to an even busier time in my life when blogging will simply have to play second (or seventh) fiddle to the need for sleep, food, snuggles, and other aspects of real life (the twins are jumping around in my belly even as I write this, so apparently they agree).

And that, folks, is pretty much where I stand after a year of blogging.

And it feels like a good place to be.

Because there are so many incredible things about blogging too.

Like the opportunity I get each and every day to connect with people like you whom I wouldn’t ever get to “meet” otherwise.

Like the chance to use my blog for good to help out PCM orphans in Uganda.

Like the platform it gives me to share my faith when sometimes, I feel like the only people I ever share the gospel with are my own children (not that they don’t need to hear it).

Like the motivation to get dressed in decent clothes (my husband always notices when I do) and get projects finished.

Like the fact that I get to write—which I love and hadn’t done regularly in over a year before I started this blog.

Like the incredible response I receive when I share a personal struggle and so many of you say you get it and are encouraged by knowing that you’re not alone, and that, by the grace of God, there’s hope.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Blogging is good.

And bad.

Mostly, it’s what you make of it.

It’s a constant struggle for balance (but isn’t that “real life” too?), and it’s a struggle that me and my competitive self are determined to continue…at least for now.

I don’t know the future that God has planned for me (outside of a 40% increase in the number of children entrusted to my care), but I do know that I want everything I do—and that definitely includes blogging—to glorify and honor the One who gives me the ability to make even one single keystroke.

Have I always been successful in carrying out this desire?

No.

I’d be lying if I said that every post that I’ve ever written has glorified God.

So many of them have mostly glorified me.

Because it’s actually almost impossible to blog without being a little bit narcissistic.

And that’s yet another facet of balance that I am striving to get just right.

But I will say this: I have tried, to the best of my ability, to be as honest with you as possible without compromising the integrity of my family or turning this blog into a tale of woe and negativity.

I’ve (literally) shown you my dirty laundry, confessed my weaknesses, and shared my failings as well as my successes, and I will continue to do so as long as I feel led to blog.

I hope that’s okay with you guys.

Because I’d love it if you stuck around.

And that’s really why I got on here today

—To say thanks.

For reading.

For commenting.

For sending encouraging notes.

For praying for me.

For helping me help others.

For caring about the mundane minutiae of my tiny little corner of the world.

You have blessed my life in ways that you will never fully comprehend, and I am grateful for each of you.

Here’s to another year of growing pains…and joys too.

kisses

Mmmmmmwah!

You guys are the best!

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):