What I’ve learned about blogging so far

I haven’t posted anything in 3 weeks; in part because I’m in a very busy season and in part because I wasn’t prepared.  I hadn’t prepared any rainy day posts and so I went silent.  I hated knowing that I had posted twice a week for 2 straight months and now my blog was just sitting, inactive and boring, generating nothing new.  I’m trying to get back on track and for my first post back I’ve listed a few lessons I’ve learned about blogging during these past couple of months of fumbling through the process.

Be conscious of your schedule and plan ahead

I should have had a few post prepared ahead of the blow up in my schedule, or at least some re-post scheduled.

Don’t overthink your posts

For 2 reasons.  One, I simply don’t have the time to devote 30 or 45 minutes to writing a post.  I must be able to clearly say what I want to say in 15 minutes or so.  When I overthink I stagnate, and when i stagnate I can’t write, and when I can’t write I overthink, and when I overthink….aaarrrgghh.  You get the point.  Second, when I allow myself to overthink and overwork my post they get out of hand and rather schizophrenic.  Nothing is worse to me than a rambling post that goes nowhere and has no center.  My soulution, use Evernote to jot notes throughout the day and come back to them later.  During the writing process, when the overthinking begins, save my post as a draft and come back to it another time.

Don’t check your stats every day, but learn how to read them

It’s so tempting to check the stats on my blog every day, multiple times per day, but I’ve learned that I need to use them as a tool to understand how folks are finding my blog, what they are reading, and what they’re not.  Instead of an indicator of my success I need to view the stats as a tool to be more successful.

Including the keywords “sex” and “video” in a blog post or tags will drive some serious traffic to your blog

This cracks me up.  I have more traffic on one video post than any other post simply because of people searching the key words “sex” or “sex video”.  Obviously I wouldn’t intentionally add these keywords to my post tags but it does make me realize how tagging your post the right way can bring traffic and help people find what they’re looking for on your blog…even if it is a porn video.

Finding a voice is harder than I thought it would be

I had ideas for what I wanted this blog to be.  Funny, thought-provoking, entertaining, a place where discussions could take place, but figuring out my voice and how to bring all of these characteristics together is more difficult than I expected.  I imagine that those who blog in a specific industry or write only about certain topics have a little easier time finding that voice.  I know it will come with practice and refinement but how it will look and sound I’m just not sure.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of the thoughts that popped into my head.  I’m sure I will be writing this post all over again in another year or so and it will look very different from the way it does right now.

JNS

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A few things I’ve learned in marriage

This summer my wife and I celebrated 15 years of marriage, woo hoo!  I truly cannot believe how quickly the time has passed.  The following are just a few things I’ve learned in that 15 years.

God uses my wife to speak to me – Men if you’ve been married for any length of time you’ve probably stumbled across this truth, or been hit upside the head with it.  God uses our wives to speak into our lives because the way they see and think about life is so different from the way we do.  Their perspective is sometimes shifted just enough from ours to help us see what we can’t in a relationship or situation.

Unvoiced, unmet and assumed expectations are very often the reason for our arguments – Most of the arguments that my wife and I have could be avoided with a little prior communication of our expectations when it comes to handling a situation or dealing with the kids.  And a little in the moment communication to say “Oh, I thought you were expecting ___” or “I’m sorry, I expected ____ and didn’t tell you” would keep many of our arguments from escalating.  We live with our own selves all day long creating expectations for others and situations and sometimes we simply forget to let them know what those expectations are.

Someone has got to say “I’m sorry” first – This is the pride killer but the marriage saver.  Someone has got to decide to say the first word, to make the first apology, to take that step towards the other.  Men I hope it’s you because we need to model humility, servant hood and love to and for our wives.  It’s not and easy thing to do but after 15 years it get’s easier every time and the duration of our “misunderstandings” shorten every year.  An argument that would have gone on for a couple of days is acknowledged, talked out, worked through and reconciled in a couple of hours now because we have learned to trust the other when we take that first step.  Oh and wives, when your husband puts himself out there and does take that first step please don’t cut him off at the knees or he won’t do it the next time.

The sex gets better and better – I can’t stand the stereotype of the older couple who have been married so long that everything is the same, work, kids, routine and sex.  I’m sorry but this has not been the case for my wife and I, we refuse to let it be.  The first few years of sex in our marriage were great…but the last several years of sex in our marriage have been mind blowing.  It’s one thing to join together as one, it’s another to enjoy each other as one, and that is the place that we’ve come to.  Understanding that sex is not just for me and making it for us is a small shift in your thinking but a huge shift in your approach and enjoyment.

There is always more to learn about your spouse –  I love the moments when my wife is talking to me and I find myself looking at her realizing that I still have so much to learn about this woman, it’s as if I’m seeing her again for the first time.  I have known my wife for 23 years and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of who she is.  Part of that lies in the fact that she continues to grow and change and be shaped by God and I get to witness that growth and learn something new about her character almost daily.

Figure out their love language, then speak it – I kinda suck at this.  I mean, I know my wife’s love language, it’s gifts, but I fail so often to speak it when it’s such an easy thing to do.  A card or a note in her lunch would mean the world to her, but I don’t think that way and I am continually reminded that a small gift that let’s her know I’m thinking about her will pay huge dividends for us.

These are just a few thoughts that popped into my head as I quickly wrote this post. I do want to throw a part 2 in here later to flesh out some more pearls of wisdom and share some of the books and resources that have been helpful for us, but for the time being, lets hear from you, what have you learned?

Giving credit where credit is due: I quickly wrote these thoughts down after reading this post by Michael Hyatt.  If you don’t follow Michael’s blog you should he’s an absolutely amazing thinker, leader and writer.

new puppy lessons

A while back we rescued a puppy from a local shelter.  Our kids were getting older and had been badgering us for a serious pet.  It seems that the interactive capabilities of our beta fish were just a little too lacking for their liking.  So we actually researched, found a good shelter and welcomed a new little bundle of joy into our home.  What follows are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned from our new puppy.

  • Any & all items of clothing, toys or food left unattended become the property of the puppy.
  • If you’re a parent, be prepared to explain sniffing & licking
  • Puppies loose that cute puppy smell when they roll around on wet grass.
  • Beanie babies are not filled with beans but plastic beads…and so was the puppy…for a little while at least.
  • Nothing is as simultaneously cute & frightening as waking up nose to nose w/ a tail wagging pup.
  • When you’re home sick…nobody loves you like the puppy.
  • Most every argument with your spouse ends when the puppy starts licking your toes.
  • Puppy gas is not nearly as cute as puppy breath
  • Puppy poop is not nearly as easy to clean up as big dog poop.
  • Before puppy…Barbie; After puppy…massive headwound Barbie.
  • What goes in must come out. Follow the puppy around long enough and you’ll get your Lego back.

JNS

are you prepared?

Last Fall I stopped by one of our local parks for a quick run.  Very few people run at this park so it’s a great place to focus and put in a couple of really good miles.  The temperature was pushing 60.  As I was making my way around my first mile, I crossed paths with another runner drenched in sweat and headed in the opposite direction.  We gave each other the obligatory runner wave and kept going.  We passed each again on my second lap.  I didn’t see him on my third lap and assumed that he had finished his workout and headed home.

The last quarter mile of the park trail runs parallel to a football field and concession stand.  As I headed into this straightaway I noticed a fireman making his way up a steel staircase at the back of one of the two story concession stands.  He was dressed in full gear from head to toe, wearing his helmet, fireproof jacket and pants.  The only item he wasn’t wearing was his oxygen tank.  I began surveying the park for smoke or some sign of fire but saw nothing.  I then thought maybe someone had suffered a heart attack or that their had been an accident, but I didn’t see a fire truck or ambulance either.  I kept running and watched as the mystery fireman turned around and made his way back down the two story staircase.  When he reached the bottom he turned and went right back up and that’s when I noticed his running shoes.  I continued to get closer and closer and the entire time I watched this guy go up and down this staircase in cadence.  Just as I came to the foot of the staircase he turned and headed down and I realized that it was the runner I had passed twice on the running trail.  This guy, who had put in at least 2 miles that I knew of and probably more, was now jogging up and down this two story staircase in nearly full gear.

I had a coach in high school that used to say,

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect

In school I shrugged that statement off as motivational mumbo jumbo, but I think I’ve come to realize what he meant.

It’s one thing to practice swinging a bat; it’s another to practice with someone pitching to you.  It’s one thing to practice a speech or sermon; it’s another to practice out loud or on video to understand how you sound and where you need to improve.  It’s one thing to practice your lines; it’s another to practice them in character.

When we prepare with the end in mind we prepare differently than if we are just going through the motions.  For some this end may be the audience, the goal of the game or the action you want to motivate other to take.

When I train for a race I train with a time goal in mind.  When we plan an event at our church we plan with the end result of that event in mind.  When I discipline my children I discipline them with the changed behavior in mind.

The mystery fireman got it.  He was preparing for the day when he would have to run up a staircase to save someone in a burning building.  He was preparing for what it would feel like and what it would take to make it up a staircase dressed in his protective, but heavy and hot clothing.  He was preparing his muscles and his mind to accept what it would feel like to make that climb.

What do you need to practice perfectly?  Do you prepare with the end in mind?