Why I Blog
Why I Blog: November 11, 2015
I started this blog for accountability. And as a personal challenge: Could I post one essay per month for an entire year?
2014: We were still house-sitting in Greer, South Carolina, in what I called our wacky grandma house. The house was an endearing, 5-decade mish-mash of the décor choices and memorabilia of a family we didn’t know well.
When we moved in, August 2011, it looked just as it had when our friend’s mother moved to assisted living that winter. “World’s Best Grandmother” plaques rubbed shoulders with porcelain figurines and Shriner’s mugs. There were a lot of breakables. There was a lot of grass.
We had a three year old boy, a big dog with a waggy tail, and a very tight budget. Mark had a new job: he left early, came home late and studied on weekends. I had a busy toddler and a lot of time on my hands. No fences or sidewalks; no friends or close neighbors; no spending money; no internet. And paradoxically, no privacy or quiet.
It is as lonely as I’ve ever been.
The first year I wrote a book. It’s a series of letters (never sent), to the world’s best grandma in whose house we were living. They are paeans to her pecan trees and to my own, dead mother; they are essays, questions and prayers. Mrs. Lynn was an adult’s imaginary friend; she existed but couldn’t be seen or heard. Only intuited.
The second year I had a baby and reworked the book.
The third year I abandoned the book and started writing essays. But it felt so self-indulgent. I was a stay-at-home mom with two kids. There was always something to clean or prepare or feed or fix or diaper or organize or transport that took precedence over sitting still and thinking.
I can’t remember when I thought of the blog. I didn’t even really know what a blog was. But I wanted a way to put my essays out there. I asked a few friends to read them and told them my goal to post monthly. Then it had the validity of a promise, an assignment.
I called my friend, Bobby, in Columbia, to ask his technical advice. While I was rambling on about my fear and inertia, Bobby was purchasing the domain name, configuring my computer credentials and loading a blog template. I was stunned into momentary silence. He asked what category my blog was: Political? Cooking? Current Events? I asked if there were a category called My Random Life.
He said we’d leave it uncategorized for now.
The domain name, This Uncharted Now, is a testament to the challenge of the now. I am a planner, and especially with children, plans just don’t seem to correspond with reality.
One morning when Jack was an infant, after yet another short night of interrupted sleep, Mark held me while I cried. My plans for the day already derailed by 9 am. I was so exhausted and frustrated that I whined: “I feel like every morning I wake up really well prepared for yesterday!”
But we are not called to live yesterday; we are called to live in this moment, this uncharted now. Each moment a new chance to respond with love, to respond with gratitude, to respond with faith.
In December 2014 we finally moved into Greenville. I am forever grateful to the Lynn family for the gift of their home during our first three years in the Upstate. And I did manage, barely, to post 12 essays in 2014.
In 2015 I had a new job, a new house, and new adventures in full time childcare. My writing suffered. Well, my writing went dormant. It emerged, appropriately, at Easter. Christos Anesti!
Thank goodness I didn’t hear the term “Mommy Blog” until well into 2014. If I’d heard that dismissive term in my fear-and-inertia stage I would have bagged the whole enterprise. There are some good blogs by amazing mothers who are living life on their own terms and I support them. But my blog is not about my being a mother. It is about my being a Christian.
Wow. I really didn’t mean to blurt that out and I am so temped to delete it. Because if there’s anything that can be dismissed more easily than a mommy blog, it’s a Christian.
And really the blog is not about my being a Christian. It’s about my struggles and my earnest desire to be a disciple. Now, it so happens that my children, apparently, are a fantastic Divine teaching tool, and they are very willing to impart the same lesson over and over and over. Quite literally, ad nausem. So I often end up writing about the lessons I learn from being their mother.
But maybe I should tone that down because other parts of life offer teaching moments as well.
In my job as Endowment Administrator, I get to talk with people about their lives and about what they want to do with their deaths. Or really, what they want their money to do after their deaths. Those conversations feel sacred to me.
We talk about the important people and transformative events in their past and we discern how to be a blessing to others in the future. We give thanks to the God of all blessings and determine how to be a witness to that Love forever. The conversations are gifts of ministry back and forth; living sacraments; and a great privilege for me.
Fact is, I’m not good at talking off the top of my head. I want to be truly present in that sacred space with a donor. I want to match their honesty and their depth with my own. These essays are how I prepare.
Writing is how I figure out what it is I really believe, and practice how to say it in my own words. Then, in conversations, I can listen to what you are saying instead of worrying about what I’m going to say. Listening is a gift and a learned skill, and I take it very seriously.
Another privilege of this job is working with a Board of Directors who support and honor my need to write. They understand it as part of my profession, part of my ministry.
And so, I have a blog. And now I try to post every six weeks or so. It’s still a challenge, and it’s still a piece of accountability. And I really, really appreciate that you read it.
I’ve been pondering a tag line to describe the blog, but I can’t quite get the right words. I’d value your input.
I want to say something like: Writings at the intersection of discipleship and humanity—that is, the intersection of wanting to be faithful, to be a disciple, and the messy reality of being a human. Theory and practice. But I don’t quite have it yet. Because discipleship and humanity are not exclusive terms, or shouldn't be. So help me fill in the blanks.
Writings at the intersection of____________ and ______________. Or something else entirely that you think summarizes my blog. You can leave a public comment below or send me a private email through the Contact Me page.
The person who sends the tag line that feels right/best to me will win some intangible prize nowhere recognized as legal tender.
If you suggest anything including the phrase “mommy blog,” I will pray for you, but I will delete your subscription. Or “unfriend” you. Or worse.