Why Do You Blog? Be Surprised
—Grace & Truth Linkup

A Random Blog Comment?

I opened my email on Tuesday morning. News, ads, blah blah blah.

Then a comment from my blog. Blog comments are my favorite emails to read.

But this one made me pause. It started like this:

“Hi Lisa,
You don’t know me, but I wanted to tell you…”

I read it all the way through.

Then I took a deep breath. I needed to read this one twice.

Reasons to Blog

If you blog, why do you do it?

You must have good reasons because blogging can be costly…in time, in energy, in thought, and sometimes in money. Blogging asks questions of us: Are we sharing too much? Are we not personal enough? Is our effort even worth it?

We probably share many of the same concerns, and same reasons, for blogging.

Perhaps you blog:

  • To encourage others
  • To teach something you know
  • To make friends with like-minded people
  • To share your art
  • To sell a product
  • To connect with your family
  • To entertain
  • To point others to God
  • To document your story

But when you blog, here’s a surprise you might not expect . . .

As you blog, you are the one encouraged. You are the one who learns something new. You are the one entertained.

We think we blog to give something to the world.

And hopefully we do.

But as we blog, we also gain things in return.

Maybe God teaches us something we couldn’t have learned without writing out the words. Maybe we make real friends in the blogging community. Maybe we learn about humility and pride on those posts with only a few readers.

And often we receive far more than we give.

Gifts in Both Directions

After re-reading the blog comment from Nick that Tuesday morning, I felt humbled. But not because Nick was hateful. (I occasionally receive those comments, but the vast majority of visitors are kind.)

Rather, what Nick came me that morning was hope. He reminded me that throwing something on my blog every few days can be more valuable than I realize. Not because I have something profound to say, but because God can do something profound with our meager offerings.

Nick said he and his fiancé had downloaded the 2-year Bible reading plan that he found on my blog a year and a half earlier. They were nearing completion now. They were on track to finish it shortly after they were married in the summer.

Nick said,

“Although this plan may have seemed like a small project for you, it is fascinating to watch God work through us and our skill set. For me, my fiancé and a few of my classmates at our university, this plan has been a gift.”

I didn’t know I had been blogging for Nick that day when I shared my post.

But I’m glad Nick did.

Whatever it is you expect to give by blogging, I hope you give it.

But I also hope you receive so much more in return.

Featured Post

Tracy began her blog years ago. But eventually grew discouraged and deleted it. She started again, but deleted that one, too.

She felt she lacked the proper knowledge to teach what she was learning about God.

But now she’s back. She’s decided she can encourage others in their faith walk—and be encouraged in return—which is something we’re all qualified to do, wherever we are in our journey.

Visit Tracy here at her blog and welcome her back into the blogging community, then link up your own blog posts below.

Finding My Groove Again

If you’re a blog writer, what difficulties do you have with writing a blog? What joys have you received? Share in the comments.

And if you’re a blog commenter, THANK YOU. You make us all happier.

Thanks for sharing, Tracy! Here’s a button for your blog.

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Are All Distractions—Squirrel!—Bad?

When the Distraction Is a Squirrel

I lost my water bottle. It had to be somewhere close because I hadn’t left the house that morning.

But I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I began retracing my steps. I looked out the front door as I passed by.

Squirrel!

The squirrel was back at the bird feeder, draining all the seed that wasn’t meant for him.

From the 2009 movie Up, Dug the dog got easily distracted by a squirrel. We’ve been using “Squirrel!” as a term for distraction ever since.

And for me this morning, the distraction really was an actual squirrel.

23 Minutes Per Distraction

Distractions can be a real pain. They derail us from our best-laid plans. They feel like a waste of productive time. They make it hard to get back on track.

Studies say it takes around 23 minutes to recover from a distraction.

But with all their faults, can distractions ever be a good thing?

As I’m finding out, yes.

Good Distractions

Sometimes my mind gets trapped in a bad loop. I keep circling a thought I need to let go. It turns into unhelpful rumination.

What I need is a good distraction.

Distractions are useful when they bump us off an unhelpful track. Let’s be real: we aren’t always using our time wisely to start off with (as in my case of ruminating) when we’re interrupted with a distraction.

In these cases, we can be grateful for a distraction.

Distractions can serve as a reset, a pause, a moment to reevaluate if we were doing the best thing in the first place.

When we can use distractions to get on a better path than the one we were on, distractions are beneficial.

Use to Your Advantage

I am learning to purposely seek distractions when I’m spiraling into negative thoughts. Put on music. Work a Sudoku puzzle. Practice Bible memory. Even turn on the TV.

Used effectively, distractions can break up a bad mood, help us get back to sleep, and even stop an angry argument.

In John Gottman’s findings on effective communication in relationships, he actually recommends taking a 20-minute break from your partner if you find yourself in an overheated discussion.

But don’t use the 20 minutes to go to your corner to privately stew on “he said/she said” and “what I can say next.” (It doesn’t work, trust me, I’ve tried.) Use the time to mentally distract yourself from the argument, allowing your body chemistry to cool down, so you can return to the conversation with a clearer mindset.

Use distractions to your advantage.

But just don’t stay there too long.

Move forward once distractions have served their purpose.

Otherwise, distractions can rob you of time, health, energy, and possibly even money.

Thank You, Squirrel

I finally found my water bottle that morning.

The first time I’d seen the squirrel, I’d had the water bottle in my hand. Squirrel! I set the bottle down by the door to chase away the squirrel. Then walked away.

Oddly enough, it was seeing the squirrel again that brought me back to the door…and back to my water bottle.

Sometimes distractions—and squirrels—truly are helpful.


Are you easily distracted? What distractions help you? Share in the comments.


Can You Love Your Enemies TOO Much?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Love Story or Something Else?

Is this a classic love story?

Girl meets boy at her job.

Because the girl Vicky is in a position of power, she begins doing extra favors for the boy, Casey. She gives him an extra snack here and there. A privilege now and again that she gives no one else.

But she’s not supposed to date someone under her.

The closer Vicky grows to Casey, the more she needs a plan to be with him forever.

She begins preparing for a new life with him. She sells her house. She puts in retirement papers.

Then the big day arrives to put the plan into motion. That day was a week ago, Friday, April 29, 2022.

A Prison Break

I first heard about their relationship Friday night. I got a missing person alert on my phone.

Vicki White was missing, a 25-year veteran of the department of corrections and the assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Alabama.

Also missing was Lauderdale County inmate Casey White (same last name, but not related), a capital murder suspect where Vicki worked. 

Vicky was supposedly driving Casey from the jail to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation. But they never showed up.

It was a prison break.

We typically think of guards and prisoners as enemies. But are these two now lovers?

casey white and vicky white

Who Is Your Enemy?

Because I recently finished Catherine McNiel’s new book, Fearing Bravely: Risking Love for Our Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies, I ask myself in light of Vicki and Casey’s story: Can we love our enemies TOO much?

In the book, McNiel says the word Jesus uses for enemies is not a noun (such as a specific group of people), but an adjective (the way we describe people).

“It could be translated ‘hated people’ or ‘odious people.’ In other words, enemies are the people I hate. Those who are odious to me.

In addition to praying for those trying to harm us, we are to actively love those who repulse us.”

This makes me pause. I typically think: I don’t have any enemies!

But are there people who get on my nerves? People I’d rather never be around? People who are “odious” to me? Yes.

You, too? Maybe the people you dislike—your enemies—are members of another political party. Or people with annoying personalities. Or those on the opposite side of the abortion debate.

In Fearing Bravely, McNiel uses immigrants as one example. Data shows that the majority of Americans in every demographic group support welcoming refugees into the United States EXCEPT for white evangelical Christians.

Additionally, McNiel says,

“Poll after poll suggests that white American evangelicals like myself are twice as likely to believe our safety is threatened by those around us; far more likely to claim long-debunked hoaxes as truth; and out of all Americans, most likely to be viewed by our neighbors as hateful.

Ouch.

Instead of being known for loving others, Christians today are more known for being afraid of others.

Fearing Bravely goes on to encourage us to turn this around. To stop valuing our safety above all, and to instead do what Jesus said: Love above all.

Fearing Bravely

Can You Love Too Much?

Is this what Vicki was doing when she coordinated a prison break with Casey, putting love above all?

While they may be “in love,” breaking convicted criminals out of jail doesn’t fit our definition of love.

By running away with Casey, Vicki potentially put multiple lives in danger, releasing Casey back into society. That’s in no one’s best interest, including hers or Casey’s.

As of Monday, May 9, Vicki and Casey were identified and chased down in Indiana. Police apprehended Casey.

But Vicki? Unfortunately, she’s now dead. Casey said Vicki shot herself. 

So is it possible to love our enemies TOO much? (It’s rarely a question we ever face.)

The question itself depends on a proper definition of love and of enemy.

But if true love—agape love—is acting in the best interest of another’s highest good, like God loves us, then no, we can never love ANYBODY too much, friend or foe.

Jesus puts no cap on agape love. His love for us is limitless.

Aren’t we glad?

Featured Post

Do you have trouble controlling how you talk to yourself? Our featured post this week is by Theresa. See her tips on how to control our inner dialogue.

Read all of Theresa’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

Fine-Tune Your Daily Inner Dialogue

Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + Tyndale House
Publishers for the review copy of Fearing Bravely

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

It’s Retirement Time – But I’ll Keep Working the Lessons

Almost Ruined

Tomorrow, my husband Jeff will finish his last regular work day. And come home to stay.

It’s retirement time.

Officially, he’ll still have a few days of work here and there during the next two months. He won’t be completely finished until July, but this is his last full week. He’s thrilled. 

But I almost ruined it.

As is my typical way, I’ve tried preparing for retirement ahead of time. I thought of the pros and cons; I tried preparing for the best and the worst.

And I’ve about driven Jeff crazy.

Who’s Scared Now?

A few weeks ago we were preparing supper in the kitchen. We began one of our talks about retirement. We each held our cool with each other’s approach for as long as we could.

Then we exploded.

He said things. I said things.

But one new thing surfaced. And it changed everything.

I heard that it wasn’t just me who was a little nervous about the changes ahead.

Jeff was a tad scared, too. But not for his own sake, rather for mine. My talk of preparing for both the good and the bad of retirement made him question if I *wanted* him to retire at all. He was afraid that I wouldn’t be happy having him home.

Still Learning

While we have had versions of that conversation in the past, that day I finally heard it differently.

Because I finally understood this: It’s not my job to regulate Jeff’s expectations.

Previously, my fear was that Jeff would have his expectations set too high for retirement, and that he would be disappointed when it didn’t live up to all the hype.

And I saw my role, with the best of intentions, was to remind him not to get his hopes up too high for retirement fun.

But he didn’t need that.

While my personality is to plan for all the possibilities, that’s not Jeff’s personality.

I enjoy the present more when I use it to prepare for the future (basically). That works for me.

But what works for Jeff is to enjoy the present while it’s here, and deal with the future when it gets here (basically).

So if I wanted Jeff to get the optimum pleasure out of his pre-retirement weeks, I needed to stop trying to lower his expectations about retirement. He’s a grown man; he knows it won’t be perfect. I didn’t have to keep pointing it out to him, just to make myself feel prepared. 

Once I realized this, our conversations about retirement radically improved.

And now here we are. We’ve almost made it. 

As we work out the kinks of having a lot more time together, I’ll keep returning to Basic Relationship 101 work: don’t try to change the other person. Give each other grace to be who God made them to be.

So you keep dreaming, Jeff. I’ll keep planning.

And it’ll all work out in the end.


Share your thoughts (and any advice about retirement!) in the comments

sharing at these linkups


What You Believe About God Can Hurt You

True or false?

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.”

Definitely false. Words can and do often hurt us.

Our bodies and minds are more tied together than the saying implies. Ever gotten a stomachache over words said to you, or words said by you? I have.

But what about what we believe? Can beliefs hurt us, too?

Definitely.

For example: You notice a poisonous snake curled up only a foot away from your own feet. But if the snake is in a glass enclosure because you’re at the zoo, you’re not afraid. Your body doesn’t react. You accurately believe you’re safe.

But if you see the same snake while on a hike in the woods? Your body will react differently. It believes you’re in danger, and appropriately so.

Our beliefs about our safety or danger affects our feelings and our actions.

So what about our beliefs about God? Do they affect our feelings of danger or safety? And our actions?

Think about your own feelings toward God. Some feel anger toward God. Many feel afraid. Or shamed. Or simply disinterested. Others feel at peace.

How we feel about God is based on our beliefs about God.

If we imagine God as a stalker waiting to catch us in one wrong move then bang!, or if we think God doesn’t care anything about us or our lives, we’re more likely to avoid God.

Who wants a relationship with a God like that?

But if we believe God to be full of love and goodness and filling us with the same, we’re more likely to pursue God and treat others with love and goodness as well.

So how do we know which beliefs are accurate?

That’s our journey.

We each have to search for the truth about God.

How can we find the truth? We stay open to learning more. We listen to how God communicates with us and in us. We read the Bible about God. We encounter God in creation. We see God in others. We pay attention to others’ experiences with God.  

I believe God encourages mindfulness, not ignorance.

Just as we dodge literal sticks and stones, we stay mindful to dodge untrue words and beliefs about God as well—they’re also painful.

We’ll still experience pain in this life. There is no escaping that. 

But by eliminating as many untrue beliefs as we can, we’ll also eliminate a few unnecessary hurts.

Seek the truth. As Jesus said, truth will set us free.

We can’t assume we’ve arrived at full knowledge about God.

We still have growing to do.


Share your thoughts in the comments.

sharing at these linkups


On the Blog—April 2022