Ministry Update

Hey!

I appreciate each one of you reading my offerings on this blog every week, whether you’re brand new to Calculating Grace or you’ve been reading for years. I’m oh so grateful for your comments and encouragement along the way.

I want to take a few minutes to update you guys on how the Lord is working in my world.

Many of you know that in addition to writing I also teach God’s Word on a weekly basis to women at my church. It has been my desire for years to expand that teaching ministry and to become more of a speaker. It seems the Lord is putting a process in motion that could lead to more speaking opportunities for me.

She Speaks AttendeeThe first step is for me to attend a ministry conference that trains women to speak at the end of July. Proverbs 31 Ministries and director Lysa TerKeurst have been training women to communicate God’s Word at the She Speaks conference since 2001, and I am very excited that this is the year the Lord has chosen for me to attend.

This year conference attendees have a unique opportunity to apply to write for a new digital publication Family Christian Stores has started called iDisciple. To be honest, I don’t meet one of their requirements for being considered (reach 25,000 people across social media outlets). But I am going to apply anyway and see what God does with it ūüôā

In addition to submitting writing samples, I want the folks at iDisciple to hear from you, my readers. If you are willing to write a few sentences (or more) explaining why you are drawn to my writing, I would be very appreciative. You can leave your recommendation in the comments section below or email them to me via the form below. I will compile them and send them to my contact at iDisciple.

Look for another ministry update sometime in August, Lord willing.

Once again, I appreciate you guys, and thank you for your prayers during this exciting time! I’ll keep you posted… literally… get it?

In Him,

Kelly

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The Obligatory Year in Review

WordPress is kind enough to put together a little Year in Review, annual report about my blog each year.

Last year the three most important stats were:

  • This blog was viewed 3,200 times
  • There were 88 new posts, bringing the total post count to 225
  • The busiest day of the year was August 11th with 111 views

This year these stats look like this:

  • This blog was viewed 7,500 times
  • There were 85 new posts, bringing the total post count to 308 (I know that math doesn’t make sense – it should be 310, but WP says it’s 308. Whatev.)
  • The busiest day of the year was April 11th with 212 views

Although my content quantity didn’t increase, the frequency of folks reading more than doubled. I have no idea why, but I’ll take it.

The post that got the most reads this year is On Being Mistaken For David Crowder’s Wife. For obvious reasons.

The post that got the most reads without mentioning a celebrity is (Dis)Unity.

Two posts that sparked the most conversation are We’re All the Same¬†¬†and Why I (Don’t) Believe in God.

Thanks to my readers for continuing to support me in my writing.

Here’s to more growth for all of us in 2013.

Spiritual Legacy

Soooooo many times in the Bible people are encouraged to remember what the Lord has done for them. ¬†Why? Because we tend to forget His work in our lives. ¬†When we don’t ACTIVELY pursue remembering, we forget.

And when we forget how He has been faithful to us, how He has provided for us, how He has delivered us, etc., we tend to lack trust and faith when we find ourselves in new trials and tribulations. ¬†It’s as if all the deposits God has made in our “trust funds” were for nothing. ¬†New problems come, and if we don’t remember His previous deposits, we approach new problems with a spiritually bankrupt perspective.

image via writeafterthis.org
image via writeafterthis.org

Couple that idea with the commands to tell our children of His character and deeds, and you have two great reasons to record YOUR spiritual legacy. ¬†What I mean by that is to actually sit down and write out specific ways God has acted in you and your family’s lives. ¬†Get on paper descriptions of His activity in as much detail as possible.

Then, when you are unable to remember how He has been faithful to you, you can pull that record out and remind yourself. ¬†That will strengthen YOUR faith as well as the¬†faith of your family members when THEY face hard times. ¬†As your children become old enough to understand, share your stories of God’s goodness with them, increasing THEIR faith.

You can be as creative as you want to be with this. ¬†Some people grab a spiral notebook and write. ¬†Crafty people create a scrapbook of God’s work in their lives. ¬†Techies may type out their stories in a Word document or on their blog. ¬†Whatev. ¬†The point is to get your stories down.

So that’s the idea. ¬†In between my posts generated from reading through the Bible chronologically, I intend to start a Spiritual Legacy series right here. ¬†Stay tuned.

What’s My Point?

As the New Year rolled around, the resolution-making and the goal-setting and the Purpose Driven Life questions filled my Facebook wall, my Twitter feed, and my Google reader.

Sigh.

My first inclination is to always resist the popular trends.

But I just couldn’t help but consider, just for a second, some possible goals.¬† And the main thing that came to mind was my writing.

WordPress, the site that hosts this blog for me, sent me a Year in Review, highlighting what I’ve accomplished (or failed to accomplish, if you’re a glass half empty kind of person…) in 2011.

Some noteworthy stats:

  • This blog was viewed 3,200 times
  • There were 88 new posts, bringing the total post count to 225
  • The busiest day of the year was August 11th with 111 views
  • The most popular post of the year was This Time of Year
  • People from 5 continents viewed this blog (Antarcticans and Africans didn’t)
  • The most commented on post was When Church is Messy

After reading this summary, I had to decide how to respond to those stats.  I found them interesting, for sure, but I was neither impressed nor depressed.  But I now have a measurable standard that I want to surpass in 2012.

And as much as I’d like to deny it, that kinda sounds like a goal.

More specifically, I’ve identified two goals for this next year.

  1. Increase my production to at least 2 posts/wk.
  2. Increase consistent readership.

Number one should not be hard to accomplish.  I only need to write 16 more posts than I did last year.  It might require some reprioritization of my TV watching time, but this is very accomplishable.

Number two, however, feels impossible.¬† Most of my readers are friends and family, for which I am super thankful, but that is a pretty limited group.¬† I really don’t know how many unique visitors I had last year (because my stat software sucks), but I can’t imagine more than about 75 different people looked at this blog at least once.¬† And the bulk of pageviews probably came from about 10-15 people.

That is terribly discouraging news to someone who aspires to write on a grand scale.  I do not want 2012 to roll by and my WordPress annual report to boast the same statistics it did for 2011.

So to begin expanding my reach, I’ve enrolled in a 12-week course called “Intentional Blogging”, written and taught by a professional blogger named Jeff Goins.¬† I don’t know how beneficial it will be, but I figure it can’t hurt.

For week 2, the week I happen to be in, he wants us to “find our focus” by clarifying what and why we are writing.¬† He says the narrower our focus is, the broader our reach will be.¬† It sounds counter intuitive, but think he’s probably right.

A blog that is an inch deep across an expanse of subjects may attract a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life initially, but they will quickly lose interest once they realize the depth of the material is lacking.¬† Conversely, a blog that plums the depths of a single subject, producing rich content consistently, will attract only a few types of people, but it will retain their readership week in and week out.¬† So that’s what I am going for.

In response to an exercise Goins had us complete, the theme of this blog Рthe area on which I aim to concentrate Рis how people can apply the Bible to their lives to cultivate ever-increasing intimacy with Christ.  And the objective of this blog Рwhat I hope to accomplish through it Рis to show people that the Bible is a mind-blowing conversation with God and to birth a desire in them to study it for themselves.

With these things defined, everything I write should uphold and perpetuate these purposes.¬† That means I have to resist the temptation to share cute videos of my kids (unless they are exemplifying the practical application of some theological concept in said videos…¬† hmm…).¬† And in so doing, I should attract more and more consistent readers.

Unfortunately, I just realized that THIS VERY BLOG POST does not uphold my theme or objective…

But Goins told me to post my theme and objective on my blog…

CONFUSED.

ūüôā

What’s Now vs. What’s Next

It is no secret that I want to write and teach professionally. ¬†I think I teach the gospel in a unique way that connects with people more personally than it usually does. ¬†I get inside the scriptures and explain how they relate to me¬†– an American woman in her 20’s – and you¬†– a reader who is more interested in applying¬†the scriptures than merely learning what they say.

I have a passion for communicating what the Bible actually says as opposed to what we think it says.  I want to help people understand that the scriptures are alive, not in a creepy mad-scientist kind of way, nor in an over-the-top religious nut-job kind of way, but, rather, in a life-giving, life-changing kind of way.

Right now I write this blog.  Tens of tens of people read it each week.  It speaks to them.

I also teach/facilitate two Bible studies for women at my church. ¬†It’s not my material, but I pull out and highlight ideas for these small groups. ¬†Dozens of people grow in their understanding of the Bible and in their relationships with the Lord.

I have the sneaking suspicion that, although my small-scale ministry is super important, God wants to do bigger things through me.

If I’m not careful, and I confess that I rarely am, I can get lost in the day dream of “What’s next?” ¬†I can miss the reality of “What’s now.”

I can get overwhelmed with all the things I need to do to grow my blog. ¬†I can become consumed with nailing down a book idea. ¬†I can worry about how small my platform is and how impossible it seems to enlarge it. ¬†I can get sucked into creating a social media presence and tweaking my website ad nauseum. ¬†There is just so much to do and be and become in order to “make it” as a writer that, frankly, less than 5% of writers actually make it.

All of these thoughts swirled in me this morning as I came across an opportunity.  Women of Faith, an organization that publishes Christian books by women for women and holds conferences by these authors all over the country, has an annual writing contest.  They invite aspiring authors to submit a manuscript, and the winner gets published by Thomas Nelson, one of the largest Christian publishers, for free and may be asked to tour with Women of Faith.

In other words, this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for.

The problem, however, is I haven’t settled on a book idea. ¬†I have a couple of ideas floating around in my mind, but I don’t want to write about what I want to write about. ¬†I won’t settle for my¬†idea. ¬†Mainly because I know it won’t work, or, at the very least, it will have very limited impact. ¬†I refuse to write a book unless the idea is from the Lord. ¬†His¬†message is more important then any message I can come up with.

So pray with me that I will know¬†what it is He¬†wants me to write about. ¬†Pray that I will not jump ahead and force my¬†agenda into written form because He is taking “too long” to lead me. ¬†And pray that I don’t miss “What’s now,” while I consider “What’s next.”