The Dangers of Blogging: Some Things Are Just For Now

I think it’s sometimes hard to have a blogger for a spouse.  We’re tempted to think about family events in terms of blog entries instead of just experiencing them. 

We’re driving down a country road, and the moon hangs low and buttery yellow in the deep black of night.  “Pull off the road!” I cry.  “I want to photograph it!”

He pulls off into the dirt of a farm, and I roll down the window to try to capture the moon.

You can’t do it; the moon never photographs well, at least with the kind of camera I have.  I look out at that moon and wish I had a record.  I wish I had the film to prove it, to share it. 

He holds my hand and says, “Some things are just for now.” 

Some things, I learn, you don’t need to always blog about.  You don’t need to capture them at all.  They are just for now. 

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If you’re a blogger, do you find that you start evaluating your day based on what would make a good blog instead of just living it?

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What to Tell Yourself When You’re Nervous

As soon as you launch out into anything public, you might suddenly become very nervous. 

When I speak, teach, blog, or lead, I’ve learned that my nervousness stems from a fear of shame–of rejection–that once removed, sets me free to be myself in front of a crowd.

When I wonder what others will think of me, I get nervous.
When I wonder whether or not I will do a good job, I get nervous.
When I wonder whether or not I should be doing this public thing, I get nervous. 

So I try to stop wondering these things by (and I know this sounds crazy) learning to anticipate the worst that might happen.  Rejection?  Mockery?  I’ve been there and survived (with flair).  I remember that my public offerings represent gifts to the audience I serve. Others might reject the gift, but the point is I’m giving–not receiving–from the audience. I pray God enables it to not be about me.  I also remember that public opportunities are acts of obedience to my calling.  In this sense, I’m performing for a God who already approves, already accepts, and already delights in me.  There’s no earning my own way; there’s nothing at stake. 

Living with flair means going public. 

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Journal:  Are you ready to be in public? 

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Doing What You Love

Today I remember a conversation I had with my husband years ago.  We were talking about careers and our future.  We asked this question:  “What makes you feel most alive and most like yourself?”  His answer matched exactly with what he was already doing with his life.

Mine didn’t, but I was getting there.  I felt most alive and most me when I was teaching and writing.  So I reasoned that God made me for these things.  In His goodness and creativity, perhaps God made it so that when we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, it will feel like we’re fully alive, energized, and truly ourselves.   

I’m starting to believe that when we find that thing we were made for, it won’t feel like drudgery.  Maybe it won’t feel like work.  

Psychologist Greg Hocott was once asked how he could manage his difficult counseling practice.  He writes, “I think the answer is found in doing what God created us to do. We are all endowed with specific talents and gifts, and as long as we live within them, ‘work’ seems less difficult.”

Maybe this explains why blogging never feels like work.  Maybe this explains why I can’t wait for the new semester to start.  I’ll tell my students that I love teaching and writing so much that I would do it for free.  That’s a good thing, I’ll tell them, because I practically am doing it for free.  Nobody teaches for the money!

Living with flair means finding ways to do what we love.  It means being brave enough to pursue those paths. 

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Journal:  Do you love your work so much you would do it for free?

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How to Blog Every Day

When you blog for almost 400 days straight, sometimes you get emails asking how to blog every day.

The average blog lasts 6 weeks (42 days), and when I started Live with Flair, I wondered if blogging would stick for me.  Would it fizzle?  Would anyone read it?  Would this whole thing continue? 

It did.  I love it, and I look forward to it every day.  Sometimes I have 10 minutes to write.  Sometimes an entire hour clears.  Either way, I write.  And along the way, I figured out three secrets to blogging every single day.

Here they are: 

1.  You have to ask yourself a good question. 

My question for each day is simple:  Where’s the flair?  This question means that blogging is my commonplace book–that treasury I keep of answers to a question.

There’s a genuine question to answer today, and, as you’ve read before, I pray for the answer (usually in the shower when I’m tempted to feel grumpy about the day).  I have to believe that the answer to the question inspires someone else as well.  That’s the second secret of daily blogging:   

2.  You have to believe that what you write will be good for someone else. 

I’ve talked to so many bloggers who don’t think their thoughts are worth anything to anybody else.  These last few years, I’ve seen brilliant student writers refuse to share their work in class because they think it’s “worthless” and “nobody cares.”

What if we did?  What if your thoughts today could inspire a whole community?  We do care, and your thoughts can inspire

Living with flair means we ask good questions and build a treasury of wisdom to offer to others.  Sure critics will come against you.  Sure you’ll think nobody cares.  But when you learn something and pass it on to others, you’re engaging in an ancient art of recording wisdom for future generations.  Why wouldn’t we blog every day?  Why wouldn’t we ask ourselves philosophical questions every single day and tell someone what we think?

In this way, we also build a community of readers–fellow pilgrims–who join in and contribute their own wisdom.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Right now, we can say “hello” to readers in Germany, New Zealand,  Nigeria, and Australia.  We can engage with readers from Turkey, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Russia, and Italy.  (Hello friends!) 

Blogging means I’m going international every day.  That’s the final secret:

3.  You blog every day because you have an appointment with your readers.

I hope this post encourages fellow bloggers and reminds you why you started blogging in the first place. 

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Journal:  What question am I trying to answer today?  Do I believe I have wisdom to share?  Do I have a community with whom I might share these thoughts?  We are all waiting to hear what you think!

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So I Will

Today, I had the privilege of writing a guest blog post for The Seed Company, an organization founded by Wycliffe Bible Translators to accelerate Bible translation all over the world.  The Seed Company blog asked me the question, “How does reading the Bible help you live with flair?”   Here’s my answer below, and check out The Seed Company to learn more about this great mission.

When I read God’s word, I learn how to see the world differently.
Suddenly, what’s boring becomes beautiful; what’s mundane becomes marvelous.  When I read the world through the lens of my Bible, I’m filled with wonder.  I’m on a treasure hunt to find the mysteries of God in acorns, injured cats, pancakes, or snowflakes. 
For the past 10 months, I’ve been blogging at “Live with Flair.”  It began with a challenge to find beauty, wonder, and spiritual truth every day.  Even in the most common thing, I could find God’s truth and reflect upon it. 
God’s word says I can, so I will. 
I have to take seriously the argument in Psalm 19 that the heavens “declare the glory of God,” and that the skies “proclaim the work of his hands.”  The psalmist claims that creation “pours forth speech” and can “reveal knowledge.” 
What speech?  What knowledge? 
Just this morning, I read a quote from E. Stanley Jones that “all things have the stamp of Christ upon them,” and that His will is “wrought into their very structure.”  As I turn to consider the book of Romans, I learn that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. . .” 
Might I consider this pencil and think about the divine nature of the Creator?  Might I make a cheese sandwich and understand the invisible qualities of an Almighty God? 
Colossians tells me that “Christ is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”  All things: pencils, cheese sandwiches, injured cats, snowflakes.  I challenge myself to let God’s word interpret my environment.  I’m on a mission to see into the structure of common objects and find the glory of God. 
This process comes about through mystery.  I find an object and ask a question about it.  Why is it this way?  How did it become this way?  Soon, I’m in the presence of mystery, one step away from worship.  As I uncover the wonder, I then turn and praise the Living God—Jesus—who created all things, even cheese sandwiches. 
And that’s how I live with flair. 
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What Were You Thinking?

Yesterday, a particularly thoughtful student said she wanted to start a blog.  She’s been thinking about this for a long time.  As we walked together, she said, “I wouldn’t have anything to say, though.  What would I write about?”

I wonder if what she really means is:  “What would I write about that anybody would care about?” 

The desire to make our internal thoughts external immediately comes under attack.  We often stay supremely private because we feel we have nothing worthwhile to say.  Our observations aren’t valuable contributions, so we stay quiet and unheard.

We think that nobody would care anyway.  

If only we would share!  If only we all could talk openly about our thoughts and have others honor them.  Not because they were clever or wise or funny.  Not because they were politically or socially popular or trendy.

Sometimes I ask my daughters to tell me what they are thinking about.  My oldest reveals she’s been wondering why in the world garlic wards off vampires.

When I ask students what they are thinking about, the weight of silence in the room unsettles me.  I ask them to write me something instead.  Just a paragraph.  Just a few sentences. 

That evening, I burst into tears at my desk as I read paragraph after paragraph of “what they were thinking.”  Such depth!  Such complexity!  Such unique viewpoints!  Why don’t they share these out loud?  Why don’t they proclaim these things?

Might I change the climate in that classroom (and in my home) to have them speak up?  I want to hear everything you are thinking about.

Even if it’s about garlic, I want to hear it.

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