I Got Schooled: 5 Blogging Lessons from the BlogU Conference

I Got Schooled: 5 Blogging Lessons from the BlogU Conference

5 Blogging Lessons from BlogUJust like in college, I came prepared with my notebook, at least twenty pens (in case they all ran out of ink at once!), and a healthy dose of self-consciousness. This time, however, I also packed blogging business cards.

Then I went and got schooled at the 2014 BlogU Conference.

Because the conference was a mere 45 minutes from me, I opted to commute, which means I missed out on late night chatting and dorm room shenanigans. But that didn’t stop me from learning a ton of helpful information about blogging.

Like the good student I am, I will now demonstrate all the knowledge I gained by summarizing it neatly and concisely in list format.

That means I earn an A+, right? More →

A Poem for Hannah

A Poem for Hannah

A Poem for HannahMy husband’s sister Hannah passed away in March from the terrible disease of drug addiction. She was a beautiful, smart, caring young woman; she was also a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and she struggled to cope with that trauma and the subsequent anxiety it caused her. These words are for her. More →

Going Meta: Writing About My Writing Process

Going Meta: Writing About My Writing Process

My Writing ProcessI’ve always enjoyed watching visual artists produce their craft. There’s something fascinating about watching a painter paint or a sculptor sculpt.

Not so much with writing.

“Look at that, she typed a sentence! Check out how she keeps hitting ‘delete’ over and over again!”

But while the physical action doesn’t seem that exciting, the mental process can be really interesting. That’s why I’ve enjoyed following the recent “blog hop” going around the blogosphere in which writers write about their writing.

The amazing Jennifer Barbour from About Jennifer recently posted about her inner workings and then invited me to join in. So here goes!

Also, I’m tagging Wendy from New Moms Talk and Abby from Fearfully Made Mom. We’d love to read about your writing processes!  More →

Paralysis by Analysis [When the Pros and Cons List Goes Awry]

Paralysis by Analysis [When the Pros and Cons List Goes Awry]

Paralysis by AnalysisA night out on the town or a quiet evening at home?

Two kids or three?

Mint Chocolate Chip or Rocky Road?

Every day we each make thousands upon thousands of decisions, some of them life-altering and some of them totally inconsequential.

There are some people who breeze through each of these choices, going with their gut and never looking back.

And then there are the wafflers.

The waverers. The commitment-phobes. The people who always say “I’ll go last” when ordering at a restaurant because the choice between chicken or fish feels insurmountable.

I confess, I am an analyzer. More →

A Week of One-Line Prayers

A Week of One-Line Prayers

a week's worth of one-line prayersOn most days, prayer is a pretty regular part of my life.

I pray first thing in the morning. I pray with my son before meals and bedtime. I pray with my fellow church-goers on Sunday mornings. I pray while I’m driving in my car.

Sometimes those prayers are coherent thoughts; sometimes they’re long ramblings.

Sometimes they’re recited.

And sometimes they’re no more than a single sentence, spoken or thought in the midst of a moment.

Over the course of the past week, I’ve prayed each of these one-liners. More →

Why I’m Never Eating a Snickers Bar Again (And It Has Nothing To Do With My Health)

Why I’m Never Eating a Snickers Bar Again (And It Has Nothing To Do With My Health)

Why I'm Never Eating a Snickers Bar AgainOh, Snickers. For a minute I thought this post was going to be titled, “Why I’m Eating a Snickers Bar Every Day for the Rest of My Life.”

Yep, you were this close to gaining a very loyal customer.

But alas, you chose to go the sexist, demoralizing route with your latest “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” commercial.

The ad is an Australian one for the candy bar, and in it construction workers catcall to women on the street. Except instead of the traditional, expected misogynistic comments, the workers yell empowering things like, “I’d like to show you the respect you deserve!” and “I appreciate your appearance is just one aspect of who you are!” More →

Extreme Makeover: Christ Edition

Extreme Makeover: Christ Edition

Extreme Makeover Christ EditionThe original version of this post appeared in the women’s newsletter for my church. I can’t take credit for the original concept/title, which came from a women’s conference at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, she is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I used to love watching makeover shows on television.

The format is always the same—a woman wearing ill-fitting clothes and an outdated hairstyle meets a team of style experts who take her to Nordstrom and then the salon.

The best part, of course, is always the big reveal at the end, where the woman emerges in a sparkly new outfit, her hair and makeup perfectly set.

I think I was drawn to these makeover shows because I felt like I was witnessing a pivotal point in these women’s lives—I was privy to the exact moment they were transformed, the exact time they began their fresh start. It felt big. More →

25 Things To Do Today Instead of Housework

25 Things To Do Today Instead of Housework

25 Things To Do Today Instead of HouseworkI’m usually not one for silly, made-up holidays, but today is a special one that I can certainly get into.

Yep, it’s National No Housework Day.

I’m commemorating the day by laughing at the dishes piling up in the sink and cheerfully ignoring the laundry sitting unfolded in the basket.

Want to join in the celebration?

Here are some ideas for how to spend the precious time you’ll save by not engaging in a single chore today.

25 Things To Do Today Instead of Housework

1. Read a book with your kids.

2. Go shopping for new spring clothes.

3. Reorganize all of your boards on Pinterest.

4. Have some spicy time with your partner.

5. Watch Frozen…again.

6. Get some exercise.

7. Do a good deed.

8. Flip through the latest issue of Real Simple or some other magazine.

9. Help your kid with his math homework.

10. Take a stroll around the block.

11. Take a nap.

12. Read the Bible or another inspiring text.

13. Email your college roommate out of the blue.

14. Play fetch with your dog or pet your cat.

15. Write in your journal.

16. Pop by and say hello to your neighbor.

17. Catch up on your work emails.

18. Bake something just for fun.

19. Be lazy.

20. Be crafty.

21. Write a thank you note.

22. Catch up on reading blogs.

23. Browse an Etsy shop.

24. Have dessert and slowly savor every bite of it.

25. Call your mom.  

How will you be celebrating National No Housework Day? 

image via bies on flickr

How Much Do You Know About Sexual Violence? [Take the Quiz]

How Much Do You Know About Sexual Violence? [Take the Quiz]

Sexual Assault Awareness MonthDo you know someone who is a survivor of sexual violence?

The answer to that question is yes, whether you’re aware of it or not.

That’s because sexual assault, rape, and other forms of sexual violence are frighteningly common. Sickeningly common.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to raise public consciousness about sexual violence with the goal of preventing and ultimately eliminating it.

Take my quick quiz to see just how much you know about sexual violence. Then share with others in order to educate and empower more people to start speaking out against sexual violence of all kinds. More →

Empowering Women and Girls Through Writing

Empowering Women and Girls Through Writing

We Write the Words That We Cannot Yet SpeakA few weeks ago I toured a local nonprofit that offers counseling to women who suffered sexual abuse as children.

One of the most memorable parts of the tour was the journaling room—a beautifully decorated space, streaming with light, in which clients can sit after a counseling session and process the experience.

In the midst of their struggle to cope with such tremendous pain, they can put pen to paper in a safe, quiet, and comfortable environment.

In the writing, they can heal.

Seeing that journaling room got me thinking about the power of writing—of words and language and the free flow of thought.

I started thinking about how the act of writing helped me deal with issues of poor body image and emotional eating, and about how seeing my words come alive on a page (or computer screen) made me, in turn, feel alive. 

I thought about the fact that stringing together words and sentences—cramming a blank page with my ideas and thoughts and emotions—has always been my therapy. More →

There’s Trouble in the Tub: My #waterstory for World Water Day

There’s Trouble in the Tub: My #waterstory for World Water Day

World Water Day“Oh no, not again!” I moaned as my 18-month-old started grimacing and turning red.

I thought about whisking him out of the bathtub and plopping him on the toilet—all soapy and sopping wet—but obviously it was too late. He strained for just a moment before I saw some floaters emerge amidst the bubbles.

At the risk of spoiling your lunch, I’ll tell you that my toddler is going through a poop-in-the-tub phase.

This particular time it happened before I was able to wash him, so with a frustrated sigh I pulled him out of the tub, drained all that now-stinky water, cleaned up the area, refilled the tub again, and plunked my boy back in for what I prayed was a proper bath—sans number two.

In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about the water; I was focused on the need to clean the dirt behind my son’s ears and to wash the yogurt out of his fine blonde hair.

Only now does it occur to me that in the sole act of refilling that bathtub I used ten times more water than the average African family uses in an entire dayMore →