Tag Archives: blogging

The Problem with Making Plans

P_20190120_153155_vHDR_On.jpgSome History

I’ve been writing most of my adult life via Letters to the Editor in publications as diverse as our local San Joaquin valley paper, to People Magazine (something about Michael Dukakis–Google him). I forayed into writing and submitting essays before they became creative nonfiction and had a few pieces published–one was an entire page and garnered me a whopping $75.00 check. (It’s on microfiche in the Fresno Public Library. You can also Google microfiche). I even had some poetry printed in one of the very first Jesus People magazines, Cornerstone. (Google. Again.)

In addition to writing, I returned to school as a mom and finished my teaching credential program at the age of 40. The years I spent in the classroom, along with raising our son and daughter demanded more and more of my time. There was very little opportunity to write or submit work anywhere. However, when my kids were grown and gone several years ago I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to begin writing again.

At the time ‘writing’ equaled ‘published’ in my mind. When I mentioned this to someone they suggested I start a blog. “What’s a blog?” I asked. Well.

This Blog’s Beginning and Connections

Seven years ago this week during a 7-day snowstorm that shuttered the city and the schools, I had plenty of time on my hands and jumped into the blogosphere with both feet.

As I went looking around the interwebs for Christian bloggers I discovered three kind souls in particular who answered my novice question, “where do I begin?” One suggestion was to use the free online platform of Blogger.  I taught myself how to navigate their layouts, hit ‘Publish’ and 3 Way Light was born. ‘Taught’ is a relative term; I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I entitled my blog “Three Way Light,” because I wanted my words to shine, reflect and reveal the light and glory of God. My words went off into cyberspace and thus began a wonderful adventure.

When I reached out to those who had gone before me or who were journeying alongside, I found I was surrounded by welcoming writer friends and readers. It was an astonishing event; the community of people I met were encouraging and kind as I connected via the comments in my blogposts. Many of those people became personal, in real life friends; in fact many of you, dear readers, are those kind souls whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know in person over the years.

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Over time I transitioned to my current site via the WordPress platform and changed Three Way Light to simply my name, as people were beginning to know my work and my words (which was also astonishing.)

A New Direction

Here I am seven years later and God has said it’s time. Time for a change in the blogosphere.

Seven years is a long-ish time. Seven is also a number in God’s economy that signifies completeness. Through very surprising circumstances and another silent nudge from the Holy Spirit, a course correction is in order. Not for a different direction, but to travel with fewer encumbrances, if that makes sense. The present nudges have come in very subtle ways… I re-read my journal from the last month and found pieces like breadcrumbs on the page, all leading to an ‘aha!’ decision that surprised me a great deal.

One day while I was pondering these soul thoughts and the tug of my heart to grow my words in other ways, I heard a still, small voice say, “What if you stopped blogging regularly?” And just like that I was not only shocked but incredibly relieved. (Sometimes we don’t know how wound up we are about something until God releases us, yes?)

The shock came because I had grand plans at the beginning of 2019 to regularly feature work from Faith Writers Over 50–The Sage Ones, to feature more female poets of faith and to spotlight Christian writers of color. I would do interviews, I would gather awesome folks to introduce to the world. I would make the world more beautiful by pointing towards poetry.

But I’m also being pulled towards a regular life of writing in other directions and I can’t do it all. So~as of this writing, I will be signing off my last blog post entry. No more weekly or semi-weekly blog entries to think about. Insert happy/sad face.

That being said, this website will continue to be a place for resources and information and encouragement, as my tagline says. I’ll just have things set up differently. The categories and tabs will be modified somewhat and readers will find entries in lists rather than blogposts.

Past blogposts will be enfolded into Lists/Resources like:

  • 5 Female Faith Writers
  • Faith Writers Over 50
  • 3 Blogs About Faith and Food
  • 5 Non-Profits I Trust and Give To
  • Christian Writers of Color
  • 12 Writers Conferences and Retreats for 2019 (click here for that)
  • and many more

I’ll also be adding new categories–‘Photography’ combined with music–my amateur film captures with music I love, and a ‘Favorites’ tab–listing websites and blogs I enjoy.

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There’s a rainbow in the distance if you look very closely….

Most change comes at a very slow pace so the differences here will show up over time. Something like turning a cruise ship around.

I’m still venturing through the water, paddling towards the shore, but the oars will be a little lighter in my hands. (And I’ll be waving at all of you from the shore.)

My regular writing will now be via my newsletter ‘Random Acts of Writing–Miraculous to Mundane.’ Every other month beginning with February 1st I’ll be penning a multitude of thoughts I haven’t shared elsewhere. You can sign up for my newsletter here. Next month’s edition will feature notes as varied as my review of “Mary Poppins Returns” to thoughts about two new book projects and links to other places on the web where my work has appeared.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride by subscribing here. 

Rowing towards the same shore with you,

Jody

 

Welcome to my Brand Spanking New Space!

Hello to readers new and old! ((Old and young? Recent and longtime?? I never know how to say that)).

How was your Summer?! Mine was busy with lots of travel–to Southern California and Santa Fe–remarkable and rich! Home remodeling–yay, a new sliding door! Plus full and fun (exhausting) visits with our five grandkids. But so.worth.it. 

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Santa Fe Sky, St. John’s College. Just God showing off.Since we last said hello around the end of July, my amazing Webgal Gretchen (whom I refer to as the Fairy Godmother), has been working behind the scenes to work her magic. I felt like all I did is dust off the furniture and move things around to make things more organized.  But s h e hung all the pictures.

Isn’t it gorgeous??

Why a New Look?

Glad you asked. As God has refined my presence and purpose here on the internet, I’ve discovered my gift to you, dear Reader, is to serve as a kind of virtual Bulletin Board where folks can find information, inspiration and encouragement. I’ll be sharing about everything from the particulars of writing and the journey of putting one’s work out in the world, to directing you to resources for illuminating poetry, new Christian voices and some helpful lists, too. (You’ll find a few up there under the ‘Lists’ tab right now).

After a visit last Spring to a Christian writer’s conference, I came back more committed than ever to also feature weekly essays about the work of two groups of people underrepresented (IMHO) in the blogosphere, Faith Writers Over 50 (The Sage Ones) and Christian Writers of Color. There will be interviews and book reviews for you to get to know these fine folks better. 

Weekly posts might also be ‘Listicles’–Articles in a List–like

  • 10 Things I Learned at the Writer’s Conference
  • 5 Travel Tips for Uber Novices
  • 5 Online Christian Communities to Visit
  • 5 Places on the Web for Women in the Word
  • 5 Non-Profits I Trust
  • 5 Female Pastors Who Write
  • 3 Blogs about Faith and Food
  • Five Female Faith Poets You Should Know
  • 20 Christian Poets of the Twentieth Century

You’ll find occasional poetry (mine) and a new book announcement at the end of the year.

Under Resources, you’ll find my Editing Services and soon-to-be-launched ‘Self Publishing 101’, a topic that has garnered interest among many writers. I’m also working on a Speaker page (if you’ve been part of a gathering where I had a chance to say a few words, I’d be so grateful if you could share your remarks in the Comments below. I’ll contact you if you don’t mind me using your thoughts later).

And, since I got a ‘big girl’ camera the first of June, I’ll be changing the photos from time to time at the ribbon across the top. Sunsets and flowers are favorite subjects. And the way light falls across a room. Or a floor.

I do hope you’ll subscribe for once-a-week posts from yours truly as I share the wonders of this wide world with you.  Simply enter your email in the “Sign up Here to Receive Exclusive Content” box and you’ll be on your way.

I also have the next edition of my newsletter waiting in the wings–for which you can sign up right HERE.

While things have been quiet-ish here, some of my poetry found its way into two fine publications–print and online.

‘Revelation’ is in the newest issue of iola magazine, ‘Bloom’. You can order it here (and get a free book!) There is much to love in this second edition and I’m honored to be a small part of this beautiful endeavor.

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And, although a serious topic, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a poem I penned about the suicide of a lifelong friend at the end of May. Wrapping words around the world is the way I process things, so I wrote a poem. You can read “For D.” here at Barren Magazine online. It was one of the Editor’s Picks for the inaugural issue; that kinda blew me away. 

While I think launching this new website is a Very Big Deal, I realize in the grand scheme of things it isn’t likely to do much for world peace or global warming. I can’t solve the U. S. trade deficit or make sure that hungry children in this world will be fed. 

What I can do, however, is pick up the pen (or the keyboard) that’s in my hand and offer you a glimpse of God’s glory through the people and the world He’s made. We are surrounded by beauty and wonder and creativity if we only could see it; perhaps my job is to hand you a telescope and say, “hey, look at this!”

Actually, I think if we all just did our own little square (instead of the entire quilt, as the saying goes) we’d make a whole lotta difference right where we are.

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That’s all for now. In the grand scheme of things.

Just one more thing: If you know someone who’d enjoy my work, please share the love.  Buttons are right below. Bless you!

 

Preview of Coming Attractions~Soon(ish)

watch this space

Well, not this space exactly. Like space space. But this space–jodyleecollins dot com.

As many of you know (if you’re signed up for my newsletter) I am revamping my website and going on hiatus for the month of August, and by “August” I mean starting now.
Lots of spiffing up to do on the way to a whole new look. All of that takes brain power. And time.

To that end– a spanking new website–this in-between phase is like opening the door of a magic cupboard and stepping into something surprising on the other side. But first I have to open the door and take the first step. Then the next. And do super-exciting work like delete 192 miscellaneous ‘tags’ from my blog essays. And choose font sizes. And integrate email subscriber services. (I’m not even sure what that means.) Yep, glamourous and surprising, eh?

I’m also preparing to be gone for a week–July 29th-August 5th–to the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sponsored by Image Magazine at Seattle Pacific. This will be my first visit to “The Glen,” as it’s fondly called. The gathering is a 7-day immersion into the world of writing and talking and connecting with like-minded Christian poets, artists and writers from across the country. I am very much looking forward to this birthday gift to myself (August 10th; thanks for asking) and getting to meet British poet extraordinaire, Malcolm Guite.

I only have so many brain cells currently available for those endeavors, so I’m pressing the ‘pause’ button for about 6 weeks.

So What Can You Expect?

In addition to featuring faith writers of color via interviews–“5 Questions For…” and telling my readers about female faith writers over 50–The Sage Ones–the new website will include lots of ‘Listicles’–articles in a list form. 
Things like:
Three Non Profits I Know and Love
Five Writer Tools I Can’t be Without
10 Female Christian Poets You Should Know
5 Tips for Uber Novices

I’m super-practical about giving people tools to succeed in their gifts and calling. With that in mind, I’d like jodyleecollins.com to be a bulletin board of sorts, a place to Inform, Encourage and Inspire, as well as become a go-to resource for other Christian writers and bloggers.

God’s continuing to confirm His call and gifting and my life as an Cheerleader, Encourager and Connector. If you’re a writer, I want to help your work shine. There will be information and how-to’s like Self-Publishing 101, where to submit your work and how to write a query/pitch. What to consider when you’re launching a book….and more.

I will still have my current Editing Services page if you’d like to hire me to review your works in progress.

There will also be a new Speaker page featuring past topics and events and how and where people can contact me to share at their gatherings.

And, my Most Fun Idea yet, a Photography page. I enjoy snapping photos of sunsets, flowers, water and sky, what-have-you and while I post most of that over on Instagram I’d like to feature a landing page with slides and music. 
My uber-talented web gal Gretchen is helping with all the magic. We hope to be back online and in the blogosphere by September 1st.
See you then!
——-
P.S. You can sign up for my newsletter “Random Acts of Writing” right here.

How I Became a Twitter Convert and Kept My Salvation

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI am still basking in the afterglow of a rich and rewarding 5 days at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Michigan. (Thank you, Grand Rapids, snow and all.) Since I have few available brain cells left for writing, I present to you a post from a n o t h e r wonderful writer’s conference four years ago. Enjoy~

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I am exhausted and beyond tired. My brain is packed, my spirit is full to overflowing and my body has been existing on junk food since Friday.
It is so NOT FAIR that the day I have to drive home from the Faith and Culture Writers Conference is also the ‘Spring Forward’ part of Daylight Savings Time.

But it was totally worth it.

Like all good writers going to a conference on writing, I took a new journal to mark the occasion. A simple no line, blank page model, like an empty picture frame ready for a masterpiece to be placed inside. So much potential waiting for my pen.

When I decided to christen this journal several weeks ago, I actually didn’t know what I was going to use it for.  Clearly God did.  I had a quote glued to the inside cover:

CHANGE IS GOOD.  You go first.

Yes, I changed my mind about many things–my blog focus, my voice. And especially about Twitter, a virtual chat-o-sphere which I have been avoiding like the salad bar in an old diner.
It’s been around awhile but I wasn’t sure I could really trust it.

Lo and behold, Twitter is perfect for my random, abstract brain. And people are nice. And they listen to you. (Well, for maybe 60 seconds.) I became a believer.

There was also a powerful touch of the Holy Spirit and confirmation of the work I am doing through my writing.  So much encouragement and companionship and like-minded ness of writers and artists, who revealed all manner of God’s creativity in their own masterful ways.

From the platform, in workshops and in conversations I heard over and over again:

  • Write from a place of PASSION
  • Be authentic, don’t write from a place of safety
  • Take off your mask (everybody has one)
  • God will break through you when you’re broken
  • Go for quality of writing and connection with readers
  • Write out your God life in context of your daily life

Gracious, kind, young people listened to my silly questions.
New friends who I was able to meet in real life have become old friends overnight and many of my old ideas about being a writer and a Christian were radically readjusted.

Now I am more convinced than ever I can change the world.
As soon as I take a nap. 
p.s.  my twitter handle is @jodyo70. tweet. 

——

Five Things I’ve Learned in Year Five {Blogging}

     

     When I went back to school to become a teacher  at the ripe young age of 36, I joined a growing wave of what became known as ‘re-entry students.’ Our particular wave was comprised of young men, business folk and young moms like myself. Our credential program consisted of getting a four year degree then embarking on the California state-mandated ‘fifth year’ training.

       This fifth year included intense study in all manner of things educational, intern time in classrooms and the opportunity to put all the nuts and bolts of what I’d learned into actual practice. I finished that year with a 6 month stint Student Teaching in Kindergarten and lived to tell it.  Then they handed me my credential and said I could go change the world.
~~~~~~~~~
       I may not be changing the entire world, just the one right in front of me. Five years ago this week I sat in my study staring out the window at the snow that had trapped most of the world inside for 5 days. School was cancelled—yippee!–and I got to figure out the world of blogging.  I queried the internet universe—“just what exactly is a blog?” and after noodling around, was drawn in particular to some very kind folks at The High Calling.** Lo and behold, they each wrote me back. I took their advice and dove in.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned as I head into year 5:

1.  IT’S PEOPLE, NOT PLATFORMS The best way to build blog readers is to build relationships. When I began this journey (and trust me, I didn’t know what I didn’t know…) Glynn Young (Faith, Fiction and Friends) was one of the kind souls who encouraged me to visit other bloggers and comment on their posts. This practice has stood me in good stead. 
     If I participate in a weekly link up, my practice is to always say  a virtual ‘hello’ to the folks who’ve posted links on either side of me.  These online friends tend to read in the same circles and I enjoy their familiar faces.
     As a result, I have built bridges and made connections with strangers who have become friends—either virtual or in person. The community of blogging has been as real to me as the folks in my congregation at church.
     I also subscribe to a handful of blogs and comment on them as regularly as I can.  There’s a world of words out there and I make it a point to encourage where I can. It’s just plain nice to be noticed. “Why, someone read what I said! And it touched them!” Imagine how thrilled you are to find that about your own work—you can do the same for others that you are drawn to. Find someone to bless that doesn’t have a lot of comments on their posts. It’ll make their day.

2.  I’D RATHER GO DEEP THAN WIDE Having said that, for my own sanity and focus I am always making my world a little smaller, blog-wise, culling emails in my inbox and—shhhhh….unsubscribing from blogs from time to time. Not that I don’t just love everyone out there, but God has called me to a small and close circle of friends. I do best in groups where I feel like I’m having a cup of coffee with someone, knowwhatImean? So…..after about a year or so, I pulled way back from my involvement in weekly link ups. I felt like I was obligated to read each person’s post and some of the groups had over 100 links in them and….I don’t have that kind of time. You probably don’t either.
      (Practical tip: For convenience sake (and to theoretically keep me from spending SO much time on Facebook) I posted many of my favorite blogger’s links right on my blog page. When I open my browser, Three Way Light is the first page to come up. Voila! The folks I want to hear from are right there on the sidebar where I can click on the link without falling into the virtual hole of Facebook. Sometimes….)

3.  DO IT WRONG—The first year I started blogging—2012—I entered 143 blog posts.    By the end of 2015 I had written 85 blogposts. I’m not awesome at math, but that’s almost 40% less than when I started.  When I began, I was feverishly trying to keep up with weekly link ups that were so popular at the time and listening to all the advice out there about how to ‘do it right.’
   Every year I’ve been blogging I’ve written LESS than the year before and I have more people reading and responding. Go figure.  The results from this ‘less is more’ approach might be explained by  the fact I’ve cultivated relationships via real time and virtual time with my readers. Again, going deep, not wide.


4. CONSISTENCY IS HIGHLY OVERRATED. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO POST ON YOUR BLOG TWICE A WEEK. You don’t even have to post regularly. Really.

      Putting myself on a schedule to write IS not only grueling but feels insincere; I end up writing ‘fluff’ instead of substance, filling the space for that week or time because I have to.  And here’s the reality—I am a Random/Abstract thinker. There is nothing regular or sequential or consistent about the way I work or process things. I am consistent about only one thing—I want to make Jesus look good through my words. 
           That being said, I DO have a couple of series I post in regularly–something new, a ‘Favorite Things’ round up, always on Friday, but not every Friday. And my “Just Because” posts–a Scripture and a photo–always on Thursdays.  but not EVERY Thursday. (and last week I posted it on Wednesday, because, you know-life.)  ‘Sporadic’ is probably a better descriptor of any blogging ‘formula’ I have. Bottom line–I want to listen to God’s voice in me and through me to write what feels real and true in my spirit, not because the experts say I ‘should.’
     (Sidenote-it’s imperative you decide for yourself what God has decided is ‘successful’ for you. What are your goals for blogging? To write a book? To be well-known? It’s a LOT of work….but it can be done. It’s just not for me. Small is definitely better.)


5.  WRITE REAL AND BE YOU (see ‘insincerity’ above). The first six months I was in the Christian blogosphere I poured on the churchiness and Christianese. Why I would dazzle with my brilliance, shine with incomparable spiritual knowledge, impress with mighty metaphors. My first posts were embarrassingly long.  What’s my point? To paraphrase, I believe, Mother Teresa, “People don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
     The words that have resonated the most with readers are those where I write honest and real about where I’m at. Where what I believe about Jesus is making a difference in the way I think or feel.  Sometimes the world is gray, sometimes the world is beautiful, sometimes it’s just hard.

BONUS: Writer’s block dogging you? HAVE FUN or Take a Sabbath Go for a walk, unload the dishwasher, take a shower (the most remarkable revelations come to me in the shower or under the bathroom faucet!) Sort the laundry, go pull some weeds. Your brain does so much better with some exercise, fresh air, some fun—blow bubbles, sit outside and watch the birds, dance by yourself, dance with a partner…the list is endless. 
                ~Live your life then write it down~
***
L.L. Barkat, Laura Boggess

Jumping in with Both Feet

Jan. 23, 2012 Snow day

It’s not actually a snow day here in the Seattle area.   It’s a ‘recover-from-the-snow-and-ice-and-wind-damage-day’ so there is no school. And, since I’m a teacher, blessed me, there’s oodles of extra time from the Time Keeper, my Heavenly Father, to do what He’s called me to do–write to you.

But first, since we rarely if ever get weather like this, here are a few pictures….

Ice crystals on fir branches

Front yard with very flexible, ice-embedded jacquemontii birch trees.

Poor viburnum, Pink Dawn, was just beginning to bud….

 

Since I have no idea what to say or where to start, I’ll offer you this. My first blog post and all.

It’s the beginning of the year and I’m plowing through the Pentateuch, much like I plowed through the snow to take these photos. And since my spiritual life dovetails with the rest of my life, I thought I’d share something from Exodus Chapter 16 about manna (Hebrew for ‘what is it’?). There are parallels I noticed between gathering actual food and spiritual food.

You have to get something to eat DAILY-even if it’s just one meal, feed yourself on the word of God. Also, fresh food is best, old stuff just rots and brings no life.

You have to get your own food–you can’t take someone else’s word–i.e. live your walk with Jesus on someone else’s nourishment. You know what I mean. A friend tells you what the Holy Spirit showed them, or they pray powerful prayers on Sunday morning or in your small group. You figure if you just hang out next to them it’ll rub off and make you ‘cool by association.’ You’re off the hook to find a word or morsel of food for yourself.

You can’t go looking so you’ll have something to give away to someone else. For instance, while you’re reading the Word, saying, “Oh, so and so needs to hear this.”  Don’t do that.  Ask God to feed you.

Gathering food will cost you something. The Children of Israel had to go out early every morning.  Like roll out of their cozy warm sleeping mats, leave their tents and go outside to gather their meal. Going after the food of God’s word costs us time and effort, just like getting physical food. But we can’t live without it.

Asking to remind myself and you, dear reader–have you eaten today?

Happy new beginnings!