Well, friends, it has been awhile, hasn't it?
Earlier this year, I chose to take a much-needed break from blogging. A step back. A breather.
It started as a one month break in April. I realized at the end of the month that I needed more time, and who was telling me I couldn't take it? No one. Only me.
So I turned my one month breather into a summer break. And it was completely worth it.
As summer drew to a close and I quietly celebrated my blog's one year anniversary, I contemplated whether it was time to begin blogging again. But I knew in my heart that God would lead me when the time was right, and it wasn't time yet.
So I waited.
And during the wait, I rested. I drew closer to God. I dug deep into the Word. I spent more time with my husband. I focused 100% on the pieces of my life which matter most to me.
Then, finally, it happened.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting it. I had felt the nudge back toward blogging a few times, but never this strongly.
It was time to start writing my story again. To glorify God through the good works he has done in my life. I knew it in my heart, and it filled me with joy!
There has been a lot of change in my heart this year. The kind of change that only God can facilitate.
It's going to change the way I run Cultivate Grace for the better, and that's what I want to share with you today.
Cultivate Grace turned ONE this past August! It has been quite an adventure, but I am so glad I followed God's tug on my heart last year.
It was a desire to encourage women in their walk with Christ, coupled with a passion for sharing my story to the glory of God, that led me to start this blog, Cultivate Grace.
There have been many lessons that I have learned along the way. My blogging break has been the best opportunity I have had to step back and reflect on them:
1) The number of months I actually spent blogging in the past year was less than the breaks I took.
And you know what? That's okay with me.
Each time I stepped back from blogging, I knew it was the Lord leading me to do so. And each time, I learned something (or many somethings) that were deeply valuable in my walk with Him.
2) Confession: I let blogging get the best of me.
Seriously. By the time I began this break in April, I had let the pursuit of a materialistic dream completely consume me.
Social media had led me to believe there was so much I HAD to be doing to become a "successful" blogger. In the name of learning about blogging, I had allowed myself to come to believe what I was doing wasn't good enough.
It was taking so much of my time!
I was constantly reading blogs about blogging, studying social media strategies, making plans and analyzing statistics.
Ugh. That wasn't even why I started blogging. . .
So I quit all of it.
Now I have redefined my idea of success - that others can know the love of Jesus because of my obedience.
It's that simple for me.
And that has truly changed everything.
3) I don't have an impressive following on ANY social media platform.
You know how I mentioned that social media got the best of me? Well, I definitely didn't get the best of it in return.
In fact, I basically have zero engagement on any of my social media posts.
My followers are under 1,000 on every platform.
My email list is around 150 people, and they haven't heard from me in ages.
My traffic numbers peaked in early 2017 and have steadily declined ever since.
In the eyes of the world, I have failed.
But in the eyes of God, I know that I am deeply loved. Each day, I am faced with the decision to be obedient to Christ or to follow what the world says I should do.
I choose Christ, today and every day.
4) I may not have a perfect blog, but I have SO MUCH MORE instead.
This year, my faith has grown more than I could have ever imagined. I spend time with God every day, and I actually crave time in the Word.
I am no longer addicted to social media or my cell phone. In fact, most evenings my phone stays in my purse from the time I get home until the time I go to bed! And I love it.
I have more time for what matters most: my walk with God, my marriage, my relationships with family and friends.
I am taking care of myself by exercising regularly and cooking healthier dinners.
I am literally walking with the Lord, on long prayer walks through the countryside, improving both my physical and my spiritual health.
All this, instead of sitting in front of the computer, pouring over blog content, social media posts, and website stats.
Can I get an AMEN?? :)
Now, before we get too far, please hear my heart on this. There's definitely a place for social media and a strong benefit to cell phones.But for me, this year has been about taking a step back to listen hard to what God is calling me to do each day.
And there were a lot of things distracting me from that.
At this point, I'm not quite ready to dive back into it all at once, and you know what? That's perfectly okay.
Cultivate Grace was created to bring glory to God, not to me.
And it certainly wasn't created to be defined by the world's standards.
So, here is my promise to you, and to God, for how I will steward this blog going forward:
I will write posts when I am inspired by the Holy Spirit, not because someone told me I needed a consistent weekly posting schedule.
I will write about topics that God leads me to share, not ones that I have dictated for myself because someone told me I needed a niche.
I will share email updates from the heart because I know my readers love Jesus and look forward to positive encouragement, not because someone told me I needed to sell sell sell and prioritize building an email list.
I will maintain a presence on social media, but only when I have first focused on what matters most, not because I feel a sense of obligation or addiction.
I will build community with the women who read Cultivate Grace because Jesus calls us to commune and build each other up (John 13:34), not because someone told me it would sell product one day or because I feel like I am missing out.
I will stand on the Word of God and believe His promises each and every day, and NOT compromise because someone has told me I won't succeed doing it that way.
I will define success in my own way, blogging because God calls me to and because I truly enjoy it, not for worldly or material reasons.
There will be some changes to the blog in terms of content and overall atmosphere, but you can expect them to happen slowly over time.
God is leading this entire vision.
You may have noticed a few differences already. The primary one being the private Facebook Cultivate Grace Community is no longer active. This is simply due to the fact that the time just isn't available for me right now. I trust you can understand.
If you still want to be engaged, I would encourage you to subscribe to my email updates. I'll be sharing my heart there as often as I can. Here's a sign up form, if you're interested:
Thank you so much for being a reader of Cultivate Grace.
I hope this post encourages you in some way. I look forward to what God has in store for the next year!
In His Grace,