Finding My Voice

When I first started my blog back in 2010, I titled it Everyday Moments: Celebrating Life, Love, and Laughter. I knew I wanted to use my own photos and I wanted to write encouraging words, but I really wasn’t sure exactly where I was going to go with it or who it might appeal to. Funny how, looking back, I just noticed that my very first entry fit well with the Faith Barista’s post on perfectionism from February 18th.

At that time, this is how I saw my blog developing: “my eyes are being opened to the importance of everyday moments and how we react to them or how we change because of them. Noticing the beauty around us. Spending time really talking to someone you care about. Finding things to laugh about every day. These are the types of things I’d like to share in my blog as it develops and grows.”

Squirrel

Several months went by before I wrote again.  In January of 2011, I began combining my words with words from Scripture, devotionals, and other blogs I read. I focused on the word “trust” for the month. Two entries were strictly quotes from other sources. While I think they are good quotes, I see that without my own story surrounding the words that I share, they are less likely to engage someone looking to connect.

In the following months, I wrote about things like “rest” and “peace,” but then I got to second-guessing myself. In May, I included these words in my post—“What Do I Hope to Accomplish?”:  “I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog lately. I’m not sure yet if I have really found ‘my voice’ or my niche. I’ve been struggling with figuring out what works best for me on posting specific topics or following certain formats. I believe, for the most part, that some of my content has been good and valid, but it also seems like what I have been writing is more appropriate for a paper for school rather than something directly from my heart. And I have been more worried about consistency rather than connecting. I don’t want my posts to seem like I am giving a lecture or a sermon (although many a good sermon has changed lives).  But I would like for people to want to read what I write.”

Dove

I thought about my title to my blog and how I should be showing more moments of love and laughter, so I later wrote about “Living with Joy” and I included pictures of some of the things that bring me joy, starting with my family and moving on to other things.

Live with Joy

And then came 2012. I was inspired by books and magazines on getting more organized and living a life with more meaning and less stuff. At that time, I changed my blog service and my domain name. I chose Fuller Way of Life (because Fuller is my last name) and I made my tag line “on living simply and living well.” Here  is what I planned to focus on “I promise I will have some interesting household suggestions, product recommendations, blogs to check out, ‘did you know’  concepts, and more.” I guess I thought that I might appeal more to others if I offered them a compilation of some of the information I was discovering for myself in simplifying my life. On top of that, with the big surge in Pinterest use, it seemed like so many people were focusing on food. I was doing a lot of cooking and trying new recipes myself so I began writing about food and sharing recipes with others, as in my “Food for Thought” post.

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I continued down this path for a few months. I think the recipes were appreciated and I enjoyed sharing them, but truthfully, I didn’t feel like this was the right voice for my blog or for me. It didn’t really fulfill me or provide the creative outlet I was looking for. In July, I eased back into something a little more thought-provoking with my “Seasons of Life” post, but ended it with a recipe. Just to cover all the bases, I guess. 🙂

Next up in my blog journey was our move from Texas to Kentucky and a big focus on “Finding Time” during a very busy period: I “realized that sometimes I need to forget about all the things that should be done and actually make or schedule time for the things that really matter to me – like writing, making crafts, and capturing images with my camera. I also need to try not to get so caught up in doing that I miss out on the chance to experience simply being.

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I delved one more time in some food sharing, and then … there was nothing. From October 2012 until October 2013, I didn’t write or post anything. Right after writing about finding time, it seems I was unable to actually make time for doing something meaningful that I enjoyed. “So, once again, I find myself working on finding focus in my life. Or maybe it is more accurate to say adjusting my focus. I know what the important things are. I just need to find a way to fit them all into my schedule. I need to set priorities and stick to them.”

I’m actually quite happy with my November post – “In Pursuit of Peace.” I feel like it has the right combination of personal story, quotes from other sources, and  real-life application. Plus, I have continued to use my own photos to enhance my posts. I know I personally enjoy blogs that include pictures as well as words, and I enjoy sharing the images I have captured, especially the ones from nature.

Ice Melting

Now, with the help of bloggers like Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista and Holley Gerth, 2014 is off to a good start. Although I still cannot keep up with regular weekly posts (and I don’t see how anyone does this on a daily basis), their weekly writing prompts are helping me to focus on, develop, and continue to share my voice … whatever it happens to be or wherever it wants to take me that week. And each time I submit a new blog post, it makes me feel somewhat accomplished. I also experience the joy of connecting to other bloggers at the same time, reading and enjoying their words and their journeys. This community of bloggers is really helping me continue to find my voice and appreciate the beauty and value of my own words as well as the words of others.

If you are a creative person (whether it be writer or artist or cook) or you want to be creative but are afraid that you aren’t good enough or you don’t know where to start, just begin anyway. As you work and play, you will begin to find areas where you are more often “in the zone” and where you feel fulfilled. And that’s really more what it’s about – not creating what’s necessarily pleasing to others, but finding your own joy and happiness in the process.

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Change Your Heart

Do you ever think you might be happier, more fulfilled, less stressed “if only…” you had a better job, you had married someone else, your house was bigger, you made more money, your kids were more respectful? If only things were different? Are you tired of dealing with so many issues? Do you sometimes wish you could take off, fly away, start over? What if the “problem” isn’t everyone or everything else, but you? The way you perceive yourself, your surroundings, and your life in general. Well, there are two things I want to share with you today. 1) Often, when you feel like you are in over your head, you are exactly where God wants you to be. 2) Only you have the power to change your view and find your joy.

Change Your View

Change Your View

I recently started a Priscilla Shirer Bible study on Gideon (Judges 6-8). That woman is an amazing speaker! Today she shared with us that no matter what crisis you are in or where you find yourself in your life, you are not beyond the reach of God. Wherever you are – God can find you. And if you find yourself in a challenging situation or you feel like you are in over your head, hold on and don’t give up hope, you are exactly where God wants you. He will find a way to use your circumstances for your good. Because God is more interested in changing your heart than your circumstances. Check out this short video clip from Priscilla: Your Weakness God’s Strength

Hold On and Don't Give Up Hope

Hold On and Don’t Give Up Hope

No matter how you feel today about your problems or issues, your negative feelings will often lead you down the wrong path. Don’t follow them. Follow the Word instead. And consider this – your crisis often positions you for your calling. But discovering God’s purpose requires that you first recognize His presence. Personally, I connect most with God as Creator. I am more aware of His presence when I am surrounded by (or looking out at) the wonders of His creation. That is why you will find a lot of nature photos in my blog and on my Facebook page if you are a family member or friend. How do you connect with God?

Here is an excerpt from the Gideon study guide that spoke to me: “If we’ll look around, we might also find Him preparing us as He works through our daily lives. Today’s tasks–even the most mundane of them–are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling. They can carry clues to what He is leading us to learn and accomplish as we faithfully serve Him. While it might seem comical to find spiritual principles in washing dishes or answering phones at your desk job, God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence, and integrity through every task.”  (p. 47) What I got from this – stay faithful to the task(s) you’ve been given even if it becomes unpleasant or inconvenient; keep trudging on even if you are in a season of your life that you are not happy about – God will find you there. Better yet, he will meet you there.

God Will Meet You Where You Are

God Will Meet You Where You Are

Speaking of being unhappy in your season or circumstances brings me to my #2 point above: only you can change your view – or viewpoint to be more accurate. I follow a blog called Speak Happiness. I think today’s post fits very well with this conversation: Unhappy? Change Your View. You can look at the same place or the same situation and see it in two different ways. You have to want to be happy to see happy. I also like these words from the author Valerie Alexander’s book Happiness as a Second Language: “One of the most important steps in being happy is ridding yourself of the things that make you unhappy. Whether it’s beating yourself up over an incident that didn’t turn out as you would have liked, or holding a grudge against someone who wronged you, or blaming the universe when things don’t turn out your way, the negative weight of past unhappiness can really inhibit your ability to be truly happy now.” (p. 66)  You must take an active role in releasing the negative and embracing the positive. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can change how you view it, what you hold onto, and what you feel in your heart. You can focus on the good and the joyful things in your life.

Change What You Hold Onto

Change What You Hold Onto

I also love these words from Holly Gerth, another author and blogger I follow, in a post about her new book You’re Going to Be Okay: “When life surprises us, smacks us on the behind, runs away with our dreams it’s our hearts that are left standing there hurting. Our heads know the truth. We understand what’s supposed to make it right in that moment. But somehow even the truth can ring hollow sometimes. So what do we do then? Is it even possible to live with joy, resilience, and strength in this broken world? After connecting with thousands of women about this topic, searching Scripture, and through my own journey I can say without reservation: YES. And it’s not just possible, it’s what God desires for you. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).”

The Gideon study reminds me of this: It is through our weakness that we experience God’s strength. Do not let your circumstances define you or direct your view. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and keep your heart open to the happiness that can be yours.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11, 13

Coffee for Your Heart