was born and the angels rejoiced. Well, maybe not that big of a reception, but her birth did turn out to be more life changing for me than I would have guessed five years ago.
I entered blogging a bit like I was being dragged to a junior high dance by my friend Joann. “I promise you’ll like it! You’ll have fun!” She was a blogger and assured me I would love being one too. I wasn’t so sure, but after months of espousing the joys of blogging, I finally gave in. Funny thing is, all I needed was to be close enough to hear the music coming out of the proverbial gym full of sweaty, nervous bodies for my toe to start tapping and I was off, racing to the center of the dance floor.
This announcement should come as no surprise: I love blogging!!!
Five years allows for enough of a track record to reflect on the journey thus far; the ups and downs, the heartaches and joys; the new friends and friendships that never quite took off. For a different project, I have been going back through the 564 published posts and cleaning up broken coding. It is as much fun as it sounds, which is not much. But, it has given me a chance to review the past five years.
1. I still absolutely adore the name and idea of “The Messy Middle: Where Grace and Truth Reside.” Since this blog started:
- I made the painful decision to resign from a job I had loved for years and move back to the US
- Our family experienced the seismic shift of Dad’s death
- The Denver Broncos lost and then won the Super Bowl
- I tried to find a book agent under every rock I could turn over, but alas, none were to be found,
- Through independently publishing Looming Transitions, I have met and worked with so many amazing people and didn’t foresee the spin off products of The Looming Transitions Workbook and 22 Activities For Families in Transition (PDF and Kindle)
- The amazing world of Velvet Ashes and how we are changing the lives of many in cross-cultural serive
- With my writing group in Denver I’ve helped to put on an annual Writer’s on the Rock Conference
- Family members have gone through difficult experiences
- I’ve discovered a love of gardening
- Only thing missing? The Kansas Jayhawks winning the NCAA Basketball Championship! Too much heartache boys, too much. :).
Overall, yup, the messy middle of life. I know you have had your own “messy middle” the last five years too!
2. On the technical side, I have grown in my understanding of blog paragraph spacing, how to use images, coding, and other behind-the-scenes aspects of running a web-site. I have also learned that I use far too many pronouns (assuming due to the context what I am writing about is clear; hello, everyone work on your mind reading!), WAY overuse the word “all” (I’m an includer, don’t we all want to be included?), and have learned that “that” can be annoyingly over used! Sorry :). Still in process myself!
3. Blogging has allowed me to stay in contact with people—both those I’ve met in person throughout life, those I’ve met on line and hope to meet in person, and you who I’ve met here at The Messy Middle. I had not foreseen that starting a blog was a bit like building a cyber home base. In many ways, blogging has been a virtual version of my life for many years in China. I had a home base in Beijing, but much of my job involved traveling around and visiting teachers. The Messy Middle is now a major home base for me as I travel around to other’s blogs, as I guest post, as I contribute to other sites. But this is my home. I am glad to be easily found here and maintain friendships.
4. Guess what else I had not realized until I reflected on the last five years? Unaware to my conscious mind, I have re-created my US/China life, meaning there are two separate, but equally important to me, spaces. Maybe this is the only way I know how to do life :). I have two cyber homes now, and both are very dear to me. Both are where I am my true self. The Messy Middle and Velvet Ashes flow in and through and out of me. I cannot imagine my life without them.
5. Blogging is like any other relationship. For me, blogging is 80% of the time fun and I love it. But I will admit that about 20% of the time, I blog out of the discipline of this relationship. Honestly? 20% cost for 80% joy? Not bad ratios!
6. One major shift in the last five years is that this used to be the only place I blogged. I can still feel the shiver of joy when Amy Sullivan contacted me asking if I’d write a guest post. And then David Rupert asked, and Tanya Marlow asked. By then I also submitted guest posts (and was rejected lots, just so you don’t think this is all rainbows and touchdowns!). I am here slightly less, but I’m writing more than ever.
7. Finally, the absolute most humbling and stunning part of involves two sides of the same coin: Change is possible because you never blog alone. Just think, the world is a different place than it was five years ago when it comes to:
- Mother’s Day honoring moms and creating space for a broader story
- Operation Christmas Child and boys ages 10-14 not opening presents for girls ages 2-4
- #DistractedByBeauty and fighting Teflon Brain
Seriously, don’t you almost get chills to think of how we have changed the discussion in these areas? When I look at the problems of our world today, I can downplay any one of these and wondering if I’m, if we are, doing enough. But how did Jesus feed the masses? He tore bread and fish and handed them to those near him and asked them to help distribute and the people were fed. Jesus feeds the masses one person at a time and collectively, they are fed.
I dashed off a letter to Pastors and went to lunch to eat yummy green beans. You shared and shared and shared on Facebook. The Mother’s Day letter has been read in every country on the planet, it has been turned into liturgy and made into videos. But more than that, it has given language to the deep parts and validated them. The conversation is forever changed. People have been fed.
The boys? The boys of the world still get to me, but that too is changing. The post with ideas for packing boys boxes gets hits every single day. Already today 25 people have read it. In the last seven days 308 have gotten ideas and feel equipped to help the boys ages 10-14. These boys are fed because quite a few of you pinned the post on Pinterest. We still have a lot to do :) . . . but boys are fed when they are seen. Boys souls feel their worth when they open a box packed with them in mind.
So much beauty in our world that goes unnoticed. But less so by us. We are in the midst of the messy middle of our lives, yet now we know it is possible to be #DistractedByBeauty. (You are using Instagram and Facebook to spread the word!). I love all the beauty we are seeing!
Five years, eh? I remember being shocked when I started The Messy Middle and after a week only have 42 people subscribed. (In fairness to me, I knew tons of people from all my years in China, it is not only that at times I think too highly of myself.) Five years ago I thought a blog was about words.
It is. Of course it is, but that is a bit like saying a book is about letters. Or a movie about still shots. Or a party about the cake.
I am grateful you are here and together we can support each other through the highs and lows of life. I’m thankful that God holds grace and truth in tension and invites us into the messy middle of his wonderful world.