A Blog Schedule

Yes, folks, it’s time to get serious about blogging. I have decided that I must make a commitment to write here regularly like I used to do way-back-when, or I’ll never squeeze it in again. My life has been full to overflowing lately, just the way I like life to be. I am busy with my five children – teaching them chores and life skills, homeschooling, and helping my oldest get things in order for graduation and college. I work part-time at the church for my husband and I try to keep my home running smoothly. We also recently took our first two-week family vacation – we’ve never been away just for fun that long – and we made a truck load of memories. I’d like to share them with you, as well as some of the 1,200 pictures I took (no exaggeration), but unless I make a plan, that will never happen.

I also had planned to write about the books I’ve read this year, too. I’ve already read 12 this year, but I’ve only posted about one. I need a plan for that, too.

So, in an effort to become more disciplined about my writing, I’ve decided to make a schedule. (It’s my favorite thing to do, right after making a list.) Here’s how I want my blog to go this year:

Monday  – Theological Term of the Week I know everyone eagerly awaits for the dawn of every Monday morning so they can see the new term. Okay, okay, I jest. However, you should care about theology, if you’re a Christian. And terms really do matter. We use them for everything in life, and theology is no different. The only time people despise terms are when they don’t like the definition of a theological one that applies to them. If you have a problem with a term, I invite you to disagree, to prove it wrong, or to find a term that does define what you believe. (And before claim to be a “Biblicist”, care to know the definition? It’s “one who takes the Bible literally”.) We must have terms! We speak, write, and read, all because we know what words mean. I hope you will read the theological term, but I  do understand if it’s not your thing. If you ever change your mind, you can always come back and catch up HERE.

Wednesday – Book Review I hope to catch up on the books I’ve read little by little. When I am caught up, I’ll try to post new book reviews on Wednesdays. If you have a favorite book recommendation, I’d love to hear about it! Please comment or write to me using the “Contact Me” tab above.

Friday – Vacation Post We visited 17 museums and historic sites on our recent travels. I really did take over 1,200 photos. I would like to share our experiences here for two reasons: 1. I might be able to offer help to those who would like to also visit these locales. 2. I use this blog as a scrapbook of sorts, and, it’s a handy way to show my mom the photos.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be quiet around here unless I think of something absolutely mind-blowing to share. In that rare event, I’ll post it on one of those days.

I just realized that, according to my new schedule, I should have posted this article on a Tuesday or Thursday! This leads me to add one more thing:

*Disclaimer: This schedule is subject to change at the whim of the blogger. 

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you Monday! 😉

 

My Year in Blogging {2015}

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I can’t believe this year is already over. It seems like yesterday we were planning the events of 2015, which began with a visit from our friend Adam Nixon, from Italy, for our church’s Bible conference.

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Memorial plaque for “Miss Heather” at our library.

It’s been a difficult year in some ways. In May, we lost our amazing children’s librarian, Heather Everett, to cancer. That was only the beginning of death for the year.  A friend of our family died in July. My first best friend died in October. 

Last summer, I got the bright idea to write about Calvinism with a bit of humor. (The most viewed posts of the year.) My husband has been preaching these truths for about nine years, and has talked to numerous pastors, preachers and friends about these things. I didn’t think my posts would shock anyone. Boy, was I wrong. I haven’t had so much feedback from a blog post in my entire eight years of writing my thoughts online. Here are a few of the comments I received:

I’m not up for debate cause I know what I believe but my heart hurts because someone that I looked up to when I was younger has gone so far off. It just breaks my heart. I will pray for you and your children. 

And:

I don’t know if it would show up on your blog and frankly I don’t care if it does, this is the only way I knew to communicate with you so here’s my bit. Valerie, I’m just shocked. When studying up on this, your readings would have been by authors that were obviously biased on the subject, as Bumper [my husband’s nickname] would have directed you in that way, anyway, what it all boils down to is..what does the Bible say, not the teachings of man. In A beka or other material I learned from, Calvin we [sic] never painted to be a heretic, or Martin Luther..etc, but I’m not a Lutheran either, I’m a Christian, MY sins were paid for by the Blood Of Christ as well as all humankind. That includes Jews and atheists and satanists and Catholics and Calvinists…and the list goes on. I know this not because of the Sunday school lessons I was taught, or what my parents believe, but because it’s in the Word of God. Not to be added to or taken away from. There is a huge difference between foreknowledge and predestination. Your dad, and mine would be hugely disappointed, but you may never know, if you truly believe what you say, there is a chance according to you and/or Bumper they may not have been in the elect and if you are in that predestined group, and I’ve never met a Calvinist who wasn’t, you may not see them again. But I know “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). We Love y’all, and God Bless..or Que Sera Sera.

 [Note: What this person thinks I believe is not accurate. I tried to address a few points in this post, as well as others.]

Another:

I had unfriended you a couple of weeks ago. I began think that you might believe in the doctrine of Calvinism, but I wasn’t sure…Because I am so strongly against this teaching, that is why I unfriended you. This may sound like a silly reason to unfriend someone, but like I said it is something I feel very strongly about…

There wouldn’t be time or space to include all of the comments. One woman said, “Calvinists think they are so special to have God’s salvation, like they are so unworthy. Makes me sick.” Of course, I wanted to ask this lady, “So, you ARE worthy of salvation? Isn’t that pride? Doesn’t pride made God sick? (Proverbs 16:17-19)”  Another person said, “So what did you do, Valerie, to be special enough to be chosen?” Answer: Obviously, nothing. That’s the point. Other conversations devolved into my being called an “idiot” and the like. Very mature responses, wouldn’t you say?

In the days following my blog posts, I heard several sermons via the internet against Calvinism by friends and family. The irony is that every American historical Baptist was a Calvinist. Your American Baptist church, and mine, wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a few brave Calvinists who landed on Plymouth hundreds of years ago. Calvinism is actually the “old path” for Baptists. Decisional regeneration is the “new” thing. But go ahead and hate Calvinism. Forget the gratitude you owe our ancient Baptist forefathers. The very reason you have freedom of religion was because of a Calvinist. Ever hear of John Leland? Yep, Calvinist. Thankfully, he is in Heaven so he can’t receive e-mail.

Well, I was supposed to visit some of these people at my home church at Thanksgiving. I’m a high-strung person under the best of circumstances, so you can imagine that I was nervous about seeing them. However, at the last moment, my husband received an unsolicited invitation to preach at a sovereign grace Baptist church in my hometown. The Good Shepherd was protecting me.

While most responses were negative, several people did write to say that my posts have encouraged them to study their Bibles more than ever. And that makes it all worth it. Christians need to be students of the Word of God, not of the word of man.

While Calvinism was the most-viewed topic of the year, I did write about other things. I wrote three series this year:  Verses I Love  in February,  A March Through Proverbs in the month of March, and Theological Term of the Week, which is currently ongoing.

In July, my church’s printing ministry, The Watchman Press, printed a Bible study I wrote in 2009 called 31 Days of Proverbs 31. It is now available in Kindle and in print. The cost is $.99 for the Kindle version and $3.00 (plus shipping) for the printed format.

I have read 46 books this year, and my goal was to read 40. I wrote about them in the series called My Book Bag: Year in Review. My hope for next year is to review each book as I read it. Those posts will all be called “My Book Bag” followed by the book title.

I have also tried to consolidate my social media world to save time. I have removed (at least for now) my Valerie Write Now Facebook page and combined it with my personal profile. You can follow me there for blog updates without adding me to your friend list. Just go here  if you would like to do so. Or you can subscribe or follow me on other media sites, just check the sidebar.

Well, those are the highlights of my year in blogging. A lot happened this year. There were birthdays, recitals, soccer practice, homeschooling, a bit of drama, and myriad blessings from the Father.

I must close by saying thank you. This blog wouldn’t be very much without readers. I extend my heartfelt thanks to you for reading, sharing, commenting (Even those who disagree! Thank you for writing me!), and for just being here at all.

May the Lord bless you in the coming year!

With love,

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Seven Years of Blabbing

I mean, seven years of blogging. Yes, that’s right Okay, who am I kidding? It’s blabbing. In fact, I’m not even sure that this blog has a point. But I don’t let minor things like that get to me. I believe writing is the cheapest form of therapy, and everyone knows I need all the therapy I can afford.

I look back at the thousand-something posts I’ve written and cringe at many of them. I recently took down my Proverbs 31 series because my husband wants me to revise it for publication through our church’s ministry, the Watchman Press. As I re-read it, I sighed, blushed and winced. It’s awful! I am hoping that I can improve upon it, at least enough so that in a few years I won’t hate what I’ve written.

Since 2007, I’ve written about grief, ministry, family, sorrow, joy, loneliness, depression, worry, words, my personal walk with God, and more. Through it all, you’ve been there. You’ve been my free therapists, enduring all of my blabbing. And I appreciate it with all that is in me.

To celebrate this little blogging milestone, I bought some mini cupcakes for the me and the kids to enjoy. (Terry is anti-cupcake.) (I’m kidding.) (He just didn’t want any.)

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If I look worn and weary in this photo, it’s because I have a very good camera. That is exactly what I am. This has been a killer week. How nice that I am ending it on a high note. It would have been nicer if I could have remembered my blogging anniversary sooner, so I could have hosted a giveaway or something. But that would have required planning, which would mean I had a brain in my head. And we all know that I do not. Since I can’t giveaway anything, I’d like you to go out and buy yourself a cupcake – or make one if you’re so inclined –  and eat it, that way we can celebrate together, even though we’re apart. See? Makes perfect sense.

LK

Matt

MLB

 

I think I’ll go to bed now.

With love from your therapy patient,

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1,000th Post Giveaway! {Closed}

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Thank you for reading my one thousandth post! I know I have a few faithful readers…mostly those with whom I share DNA…who have been here for every one. Thank you so much! I have been blogging for over seven years about my family, my faith, my favorites and my fiascoes. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks by giving you a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card! I’ll be celebrating later in the year by giving away three of my favorite books and a special gift for homeschooling moms, so please check back often!

To enter, do one or more of the following:

Follow my blog by email or any reader.

Like my Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow me on Google+

This final step is REQUIRED: please leave me a comment telling me which one(s) of the above you have done, since each item gains you one entry in the contest. You can list them all in one comment or each separately. Be sure to include your name. 🙂

Contest closes at 10 PM this Sunday, April 20, 2014. Winner will be announced bright and early on Monday, April 21, 2014! 

That’s it!

Thanks for reading any of my 1,000 posts. Blogging isn’t much fun without readers. 🙂

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Why I Left Blogger

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I have been busy on the blog lately, but not just writing. I’ve been working on host and design changes.

A little history…

I began blogging with Blogger over six years ago when we lived in Texas. I called it “Life in the Hill Country” because we lived in the hill country of Texas. I never even considered what I would do with the title if we moved! Terry had worked and waited for seven years to become a pastor, we would never leave! But, we did just that after almost three years there. My “Life in the Hill Country” was then going to be “Life in the Timberland Region” of Arkansas. Not too catchy. I changed it to “Valerie’s Hope Chest”, because that was the name of our city. I didn’t like that name much, either. Then, a man in our church (who left long ago), whom I’ll call “Joe”,  said he knew a lot about blogging and websites offered to do the church’s website. He also offered to help me. I only wish I’d known that he was the most unreliable man in the world. With Joe’s help, I purchased my first domain name (valeriebasham.com) and tried to learn about mysterious things like “My SQL” and “FTP” and “plugins”. I was helpless without Joe’s aid, and that became harder and harder to come by. Eventually, Joe gave up the church’s site. I quickly saw that my advice-getting-days were numbered, so I bailed. Everything I had written that year was on a server (which I had no clue how to access) somewhere out there. All I could do was call the company and cancel my domain. That’s like pulling the plug on your computer, it doesn’t gradually shut down, it just dies and quickly! I decided to go back to Blogger because at least I knew how to use it. I had posted over 150 posts on self-hosted site, and lost all but thirty. That was a horrible, terrible, very bad day. Before I shut it all down, I went to the site and managed to copy and paste those thirty posts, and their corresponding pictures, into a Word doc. I then copied them from the Word doc onto the new blog on Blogger.

I was still unsure what to call the old/new blog. One day, weeks later, the name “Valerie Write Now” came to me. It seemed to fit. It had my name, what I love to do, and the topics of which I write – what’s happening now – all in one short phrase. The best part is that it was a name I could take with me everywhere! (Though I didn’t plan on moving.) I found that I could purchase a domain name through Google, and keep the Blogger platform for my writing. No crazy My SQL or FTP or plugins! Just write, add photos and share! Ahhh…

And now…

Several months ago, I started having issues with the gadgets on Blogger. (Those are the links, menus and photos that were on the right side of my blog.) I didn’t worry about it because Google (who owns Blogger) has always been very good about repairing things like that pretty quickly. As of last week, I still had those issues, plus new ones! I noticed the search button for my blog wasn’t working. And when I tried to investigate, the entire layout page was blank! No problem, I’ll just contact the good folks at Google. But… you can’t just call them, you must *ahem* google them. Well, I googled every thing under the sun that was remotely close to the issues I was having, with few results. The possible solutions that I did find, I tried with no success. Finally, I decided I was done with Blogger. If I’d wanted to host my own site and write my own code, I would have stayed with the self-made site I’d had long ago. So, I researched what it would take to move everything over to WordPress.com and point my domain there. Believe it or not, it wasn’t that difficult to to do. It took several hours and much reading, but I did it!

Now that I’m here, and adjusting to the new setup, I really love it. I wish I’d done it years ago. They have so many options for writing posts, adding images is easier, and it’s just a cleaner looking site. I love that they share my posts for me automatically on various social media. AND, I have been able to get my questions answered quickly by searching their support site! My favorite feature so far is the dropdown menu for my pages (the labels across the top of the page). For instance, if you’ll hover your mouse over the label at the top of the page that says “About Me”, you’ll see a dropdown menu that has “Postpartum Depression (PPD)” and beneath that one is “Contact Me”. The same is true of the “Good News!” tab – there are other pages relating to that topic that drop down. This was only possible with Blogger if you could write the code for it yourself. Also, there is no limit to the number of separate pages you have! Blogger only allowed you to have ten.

It has definitely been a learning curve, and a bit overwhelming at times, but I like learning new things. I hope you will look around and make yourself at home. If you “followed” my posts using “Google Friend Connect”, you will no longer be able to get updates that way. Also, if you had subscribed to the feed on my other site, you will need to re-subscribe, even though the web address is the same. You can also use the WordPress “follow” link, which goes to your email, or choose from the social media buttons displayed in the sidebar. I’d love to hear what you think, so leave me a comment! 🙂

Thanks for reading and for keeping in touch!

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A Verse for the Day

Since I started blogging, one dream I had was to write a short devotional thought for each day. When that was impossible, I tried doing it every weekday. Then, I gave up. It was too time consuming to write an entire blog post for each day, or even each weekday. I have busy mornings, just as the rest of the world does. I have my morning Bible time because it’s scheduled; it’s a habit. And because my day would seem off kilter if I didn’t. You know, it’s like forgetting to wear my watch or brush my teeth. It would just be…weird. But, getting up, reading my Bible, praying AND blogging is too much for my crowded mornings.

However, I think I’ve found a way to be an encouragement to other ladies everyday. I think. I know some of you have strong opinions about Facebook. It’s a tool of the devil. It’s time consuming. It’s a platform for drama, etc. And, you’re right. Facebook can be a tool of the devil. Or a tool used for God. It can be time consuming. Or  you can just manage your time there. It can be drama-central, or you can refuse to acknowledge the drama. It takes discipline, but Facebook can be a blessing. I am often encouraged by verses that friends post, praises and answers to prayer. I often see needs that I must pray for, too. I have to fight my flesh to avoid debates and drama, but by God’s grace, it can be done. I don’t play games on Facebook in order to spend my time wisely online. And I guard my time. If you, like me, are on Facebook but strive to use it for good, I’d like to mention something on my heart. Each morning, I try to post an encouraging tidbit from God’s Word, usually something I read that morning. It’s quick, it’s simple, but I hope it can be used as a tool to help others. Here’s a sample entry from today:

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. – Jeremiah 18:4 


We all come to Christ as broken vessels. He re-makes us into His image. It is often a painful process, but through it all, He is there. He is with us in the fire. He encourages us through His Word and He blesses us through answered prayer. One day, He will guide us safely home where there will be no more burdens to bear! Praise the Lord!

If you’re on Facebook, I encourage you to visit my page, Valerie Write Now, and like me. Be sure that the box is ticked that says “Show in News Feed”. Also, if you’re already a liker, (no, not a “biker”, a “liker”) but you’re not seeing anything from me, perhaps you need to tick “Show in News Feed”. Go to my page, click the “liked” button and you should see it in the drop-down menu. Also, the more you “like” my statuses, or comment, the more you’ll see of me.

If, on the other hand, you’re not on Facebook or this sounds like a dumb idea to you, then please don’t stop reading here. 🙂 I hope to write more, but in this busy season as a mom of little ones – who are growing up at the speed of light! – I often shelve blogging to perform the tasks of motherhood. (My favorite thing!)

I just wanted to let you know my thoughts. Perhaps you can join me, or share this with others. Or not. Either way, thanks for reading!

I leave you with something funny to start your Monday. 🙂

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Why I Keep Blogging

On September 3, I celebrated blogging for five years! We were away on vacation during that time, so I was unable to write about it on the big day.Yep! It was the big…zero-five. Of the five years, this one has been my most difficult. Not because the desire to blog or write has waned, but because the words have not come as easily as they once did. I have been through some personal trials that are hard to share with the world at large. Also, it’s been a very busy season for me. When the choice had to be made between living or blogging, well, living won! And, to top it off, my confidence in what I was saying, and the point of saying it, came in to question. Why do I do this? In an internet crazed society, where blogs are available by the million, what point is there in mine? I have done some soul searching, some praying and some plain-ol’ thinking, and I’ve realized that I blog for two reasons:

#1. I blog for myself. I like re-reading my posts and seeing my kids as they’ve grown and changed. I always feel better after writing, so for me, blogging is therapy. Free therapy. It helps me to sort things out, share thoughts, and bronze memories.

#2. I blog for you. You might be my mother, or some other relative. If so, I blog to keep in touch with you. You might be my friend, who cares about my life and wants to keep in touch with me. If so, I’m glad you’re here! Or, you might be an enemy, and believe me, I have them!You might want to see if your gossip is affecting me; if I’m quitting or giving up. I hope you see that I’m still hanging in there, serving the Lord. I hope you see that I bear no grudges or hard feelings. Most of all, I hope you’ll stop being my enemy, and become my friend, for I am already yours. You might be someone who heard from a friend that I’m a nice person (unless you’ve talked to my enemies! lol!), and you’ve dropped by out of curiosity. If so, one of my all-time favorite things is meeting new people, making new friends! I love my family, and I love people, so it is you for whom I blog.

Five years seems like a very long time! A lot has happened in my life over those five years. I thought I’d share a few posts from the past to celebrate my [belated] fifth blogging anniversary.

My very first post.
What my kids looked like when I started blogging. *sniff sniff*
One of my favorite posts. 
Okay, another one of my favorite posts.
The post that has received the most hits (since May of 2010 when I started this current site): What I Love About You  – 3,795 hits
Second most popular post: Listening Sheets – 2,770 hits
Most popular page: My Love Story  1,651 hits
Total comments: (drum roll, please.) 2,784! Thank you! Those comments are the frosting on my blogging anniversary cake! They mean so much to me.
A few other stats:

  • This blog began as “Life in the Hill Country” and then moved to, “Valerie’s Hope Chest”. For a short time, I had my own domain, valeriebasham.com, using WordPress. In May of 2010, I moved to valerie-thebishopswife.blogspot.com. In January of 2012, I relocated everything to Blogger using my own domain name, valeriewritenow.com. I hope it stays here. Forever. *Phew*
  • I’ve had several different layouts over the years. One was designed by a friend and the rest by me. I enjoy tinkering around with the design, but I love writing more than I do the web design. That’s why I haven’t changed the look since January! (gasp!) Sorry about that.

Some of you, okay, maybe only two of you, have been with me since the very beginning. Thank you for being my online friend. Thank you for reading, for looking at my photos, for laughing and for crying with me. (Even if some of those tears were because you’d never read a worse blog post anywhere on the web.) Thank you for the comments you’ve left and the prayers you’ve prayed for me over the years. Thank you for finding me on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest and being my friend, there, too!
To my newer friends, thank you for joining me in whatever wacky phase of life I’m currently in. You have many choices in blog-reading-material, and I am so honored you’ve chosen me! I have no books to sell. I have no quota to meet. I just love writing.

And comments.

Just those two things. 🙂

With love,
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