I’ve been blogging for almost nine months now, and I’m still very much in learning mode. I started this blog without a budget, so after choosing and purchasing my domain name, I created this site by myself with WordPress (rather than hiring a professional to build it for me). Far from a tech whiz, I know enough to keep things functional and basic.
Despite my newbie-ness, from time to time, I receive a message from a dear reader asking me for advice about blogging. And I have to say, I almost feel silly rendering said advice, because I’m so new to blogdom myself. Nonetheless, I have picked up a few encouraging tidbits along the way. So here is what I’ve learned about blogging, nearly nine months in:
1. Write about what you love.
If you’re not passionate about your topic, it will show. When a post starts feeling clunky and forced, I bag it and move on to a topic that feels more like me. Speaking about focusing on what you love…
2. You also need to love to write.
Unless you have a photography based blog, most of blogging is writing. So if you’re anything like me, and delight in the art of weaving words together, go for it – and write! Like all skills, writing must be practiced if you want to be any good at it. So…
3. Write consistently.
Set a goal (once per week, twice per week) and try to stick to it. I do my best, but you know…life happens. Some days I’m just thankful if my kids’ teeth are brushed and we all have on clean underwear.
4. Consider it a marathon and not a sprint.
You may have a few posts that do well and go mildly viral-ish, but it takes a lot of writing and time to cultivate an audience. Don’t get frustrated if building your readership is slow. Do it for the love, not for the numbers.
5. Focus on content.
If you want people to read your blog with consistency, good content is the most important element. Networking with other bloggers and seeking out sponsors can be worthwhile pursuits, but should always be secondary. First and foremost, publish good, coherent content.
6. Appreciate your readers.
I am tickled pink when people read this blog. Value your readers, and thank them for spending time with you. Seriously – thank you. I love ya.
If you’ve read my blog for even a little while, you know that I share personal details about my journey through life – especially my walk with God. And while the overwhelming feedback from y’all has been positive and encouraging, every once in a while a dear reader will write me and say:
“I don’t know how you share all of that stuff. You’re brave.”
I do not view these comments as criticism. Rather, I view them as honest reflections and responses to my willingness to share my story in a raw and vulnerable way. And if I’m completely honest, I’ve spent many a night restlessly awake in my bed pondering whether I’ve shared too much – and what the implications may be to me both relationally and professionally. So the question that I often find myself wrestling with is:
Am I guilty of oversharing?
Google defines oversharing as “reveal[ing] an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life.” And we all know people who regularly do it, especially on social media.
Much like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stuart’s discussion of obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, I shall not further attempt to define oversharing, “and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.” Oversharing is subjective. And if you’re anything like me, it kind of makes me squirm.
So as I prayerfully consider which pieces of my story to share on this blog, I find myself returning to these three questions:
1. Am I speaking truth?
My story is the truth of what God has done for me, and I am cautious to be truthful and accurate in my retelling of past events. I want my words to be trustworthy.
I’ve made many mistakes in my life, and in my past I veered far off course from the small gate and narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). And because of my waywardness, I have experienced the depths of my own sin. I have tasted my own depravity.
And God knows it all. None of it is a secret to him, for none of it was hidden from his omniscient eyes.
God saw it all, and still he loves me. Still he chose me, and saved me, even though I did nothing to earn his forgiveness, and everything to deserve his wrath.
So how could I not shout that from the rooftops? How could I not share my story of redemption in open and truthful ways? My immeasurable thankfulness to my savior is reflected in my willingness to share both the bitter and sweet pieces of my story. I want to speak truth.
2. Does this truth have the potential to encourage a reader or draw someone closer to Jesus Christ?
I desire to encourage and uplift those of you who take precious time out of your busy days to read my words. I do not take your time for granted, and I am incredibly thankful when you stop here to spend a few moments with me. It is my prayer that my words might encourage you, and cause you to consider your life from an eternal perspective, for “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
Life is short, and we only get one chance to do it right.
3. Is it God’s desire that I share this piece of my story?
Before I share anything deeply personal, I pray. And then I pray some more. In fact, I spend much of my time thinking about this blog in conversation with God. I desire that my words be pleasing to him.
And for those of you wondering – NO – I have never received an audible response from God. Never have I heard a booming voice commanding me to do something. Rather, I pray and then look to my Bible for God’s guidance, with sensitivity to the mysterious leading of the Holy Spirit.
So have I overshared? In the eyes of some – maybe. But in my heart, between my savior and I, it is well.
Father God, please make my words trustworthy and clear. Help me communicate your truth in relatable and understandable ways. And please give me boldness to continue sharing the ways you changed my life – and my heart – even at the risk of oversharing.
Trust me, I considered this question several times before writing this post. However, folks have asked me a bunch of these questions since I started this blog, and since you asked, I’ll answer. 🙂
When and where were you born?
I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1979, making me one year shy of being a Millennial. (I’m not sure whether that makes me want to groan or cheer.)
When and how did you learn to cook?
Before I quit my job as a lawyer to be a stay-at-home parent, I could scarcely cook a thing. I worked late most nights, so I often ate take-out for dinner at the office, while Jersey Boy cooked and ate his own dinner at home. Those days, Jersey Boy did 99% of the cooking in our home, and he never complained once. His mama taught him well.
After I quit my big-money job and nightly take-out was no longer in the budget, I realized that I better teach myself to cook. I learned mostly from reading cooking blogs, the Pioneer Woman being foremost among them. Her detailed descriptions and large photos of each step were necessary for a beginner like me. What the heck is the meat supposed to look like after you “brown it”? – I had not a clue. So visuals of each step were a necessity.
Now I adore cooking and I enjoy writing detailed recipe posts with clear photos for beginners just like the former me.
You have three little kids. Do you really “adore cooking”? How do you find time to do it?
Trust me, there is not a gourmet situation going on here every night. Last night we ate grilled hot dogs. But most nights, I prepare balanced meals with real food. Two of my littles still nap (thank heavens), so I do most of my dinner prep during naptime. Jersey Boy gets home around 5:30 p.m., and I do much of my active cooking thereafter.
I adore the creativity that cooking permits. I bore easily, and cooking is a healthy outlet for me to continually try new things – new spices, new cooking styles, new ingredients. I also cook a lot of cultural food – Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Spanish, Italian – I pretty much love it all. I want my kids to grow up loving the same Cajun dishes that I ate as a child, so I’ve mastered most of my mom’s classic Louisiana dishes.
What is your religion?
I am a Christian.
Why do you write so much about your faith?
My faith informs everything about my life. It is not something that I compartmentalize and take out on Sunday morning. My faith is interwoven in everything I do every day. But that does not mean that I am always an excellent example of my faith. I live in a fallen world, and I screw up all the time. I am a perfectly imperfect Christian, striving to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called (Ephesians 4:1).
Do you miss practicing law?
I have to say, I don’t miss the hours. But I did work with some truly wonderful and wickedly smart people, and I miss them. I miss the people. And the paycheck. The paycheck was nice. (Just keepin’ it real.)
Have you always enjoyed exercising?
Um, no. I was formerly a ballerina and a college cheerleader, and those activities kept me in excellent shape. However, when I started law school I had no desire to hit the gym, and I went many years without consistent physical activity. Add to that all my evenings of take-out dinners, and I was in fairly poor shape. I never gained much weight, but I completely lacked tone, definition, strength and endurance.
Now I love working out, and it’s for one reason – I found an exercise class that I thoroughly enjoy. For nearly two years, I’ve attended Mojo Fitness classes two to three times a week, and I love it (so much so that I lead classes from time to time). The founder and lead instructor of Mojo, Cindy Brauer, has become a personal friend. With Mojo, Cindy created a unique exercise experience, and she works tirelessly to keep the class fresh and accessible to women of all body types and fitness levels. Plus, it’s crazy fun. It’s my happy place.
Now I count down the hours until Mojo. And I have a good excuse to buy all of that cute and trendy exercise gear.
Where and how did you meet your Jersey Boy?
Jersey Boy and I met in a bar in Philadelphia. After downing two cosmopolitans, I didn’t mind brazenly calling him over to chat with my friend and I. I thought he was handsome, and I expected his ego to match his visage. Much to my delight, however, he was shy and unassuming. He asked for my phone number and we went on our first date a few days later. When I got home from our evening at the Cheesecake Factory, I told my roommate, “I just went on a date with my husband,” and I haven’t looked back since. (And he somehow remembers exactly what both of us ordered for dinner that night, including the specific type of cheesecake.)
Are you done having children?
I get a little weepy when I think about this question. Jersey Boy and I are in agreement that our family is probably complete…but I can’t imagine never cradling my own little newborn again. So the answer is probably. But only the Lord knows what he has in store…
Did Jersey Boy mind when you posted your abortion story?
No. He was fully on board and supportive. He helped me edit my story, as he does with all of my posts. We prayed about it together, and we thoughtfully considered a range of possible outcomes and responses to publishing such a personal story. I would have never published my story without his full and complete involvement and support.
Why don’t you post more pictures of yourself?
I am completely camera shy, and I typically dislike the way I look in pictures. The photo at the beginning of this post makes me totally uncomfortable. But I also value documenting my life in pictures for the benefit of my children. I want them to know what their mama looked like when they were little. So there I am – silly pose and all.
How did you come up with the name for this blog?
I wanted to crush the cliché of the bored housewife eating bon bons. (What the heck is a bon bon, anyway?) I work pretty darn hard, and I do it with willing hands for the benefit of my family and the glory of my God. Amen. Halleluiah.
The past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit lost. I started this blog for fun and to nurture my love of writing. I intended it to be a place where I shared bits about my lifestyle…my love of cooking, my desire to be a godly wife and mother, my enjoyment of fitness…I wanted to write about my experiences in a light and uplifting way to encourage others.
I never intended this blog to be a place where I spilled my guts. I certainly never intended to write about my abortion.
But when God places something so strongly on your heart, how can you ignore him? How can you walk away from his urging?
So I wrote my abortion story.
And then I felt a bit lost. And a bit raw. And I wasn’t sure what else to say.
Then today something amazing happened. Around noon I received an email that read, in part: “…I was the post abortion counselor you met with 14 years ago…I am currently living in Florida and continue to work in a pregnancy center…I am the Director of Abortion Recovery at First Care Women’s Clinic in West Palm Beach, FL!”
Wow, God. Wow.
This is a woman who I haven’t spoken with since the months following my abortion fourteen years ago. The office where she counseled me no longer exists, and I could not remember her name.
This is the woman who God used all those years ago to pull me out of a deep, dark pit. And here she was again today…encouraging me, just as she did before.
She thanked me for writing my story and explained that it was a blessing for her to learn that I am happily married with three little ones. She remembered my personal story even after fourteen years and hundreds (maybe thousands?) of clients since me. She also asked whether a well-respected association of Christian counselors could publish my story in their newsletter in an effort to help counselors better understand how abortion affects women, and of course I obliged.
It is no coincidence that she showed up in my life again today.
God orchestrates not just the enormous, momentous moments of my life. He is the author of even the small things. He reconnected my old counselor and I today because he is a personal God, who knows and cares for me. Her email was a comfort, and evidence to me of God’s control over the specifics of my days and the order of my life.
So I will continue writing about my lifestyle – including all the craziness of maintaining a home and my sanity while parenting three little kids – but I will do it with a greater awareness of how God is intimately involved in all of my affairs, both the momentous and the mundane.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
Since posting My Abortion Story, I have spent many of my “in-between moments” in prayer and with my nose in my Bible (my Bible app, that is). All unbored housewives know those “in-between moments”…in-between diaper changes, in-between preparing meals, in-between refereeing my children’s arguments…they are the tiny moments that God gives me each day that I can choose to either use fruitfully or wastefully.
And during my quiet in-between moments, God has given me a sense of peace and a desire to boldly proclaim what he did for me. Fourteen years ago, I aborted my baby, a child who he fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my womb. That act was abhorrent to God. But he loves me nonetheless, and when I wept for my dead child, with a heart of repentance, he forgave me. How could I not shout that from the rooftops? I am forgiven and set free from the bondage and weight of my sin! And out of his love, God gave us an example in Scripture of a man who was the worst of the worst, who God also set free. That man was named Paul.
The apostle Paul wrote a significant portion of the New Testament of the Bible. And before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was a bad, bad man. He was the worst of sinners. In fact, it was his chief aim to persecute, imprison and murder Christians. He hated the people who followed Jesus Christ.
This is how Paul described himself in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Did you catch that?
God chose Paul, the foremost of sinners, to display the perfect patience of Jesus Christ. He chose Paul to show that no matter how sinful we’ve been, there is mercy and forgiveness available to us through faith in Jesus.
And I am so thankful that God chose Paul to communicate this to us. He was the most unlikely of people. He was a man who neither earned nor deserved God’s approval – but God chose him nonetheless. It encourages me to know that no matter how sinful I’ve been, nothing is beyond God’s sovereign grace.
So as I focus on God during my in-between moments this week, I do it with a heart of thanks for Christ’s perfect patience towards me.
Thank you, Lord, for converting Paul for my sake, lest I think that aborting my baby makes me undeserving of your sovereign grace. For you sent Christ Jesus to save sinners like me.
I want to take a moment and thank each of you that read My Abortion Story. Many of you sent me encouraging messages, discussed it with me in person, or publicly commented or shared my story on Facebook. Thank you so, so very much. Your encouragement has buoyed me and calmed many of my fears about sharing such a dark piece of my past.
Sharing my story was not an easy choice. Abortion is a topic that is rarely publicly discussed, despite its pervasive presence in our society. But after years of prayer, I strongly felt God urging me to blog about my abortion. I shared my story out of obedience to him. I don’t pretend to understand God’s sovereign plans, but I desire to live a life that displays submission to his will and trust in him.
The wise John Piper said this about the public confession of abortion (you can read the full article here):
Public confession of sin is such a liberating thing for others to come forward. And if they don’t come out of the darkness, then they can’t have the sweetness of forgiveness. The gospel teaches us how to live, but it also rescues us when we fail to live the way we are supposed to live. And that is what makes it sweet.
Although public confession can be liberating, the past several days have been hard for me. Please pray for me – that I will rest in the forgiving power of the gospel and not be discouraged. And if you think that my story would be helpful to anyone, please share it with them.
No matter how hard I try to stuff it down, tuck it away, it will always be there. And some days, it’s impossible not to grieve. Today I sit at my computer with tears streaming down my face, reading the news of Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and commodification of aborted fetal body parts, and I grieve for what I’ve done.
Fourteen years ago I had an abortion.
My story is not about politics. It is about my own personal experience with abortion and its lasting impact on my life.
Mine is a story of darkness and pain – and healing.
I was a first year law student, knee deep in hours of studies each night, briefing cases and trying to avoid being targeted by my professors who utilized the Socratic method with glee. I was in a lingering college relationship that was unhealthy at best and volatile a worst. He certainly wasn’t the type of guy that I planned on marrying. Our relationship was primarily sexual in nature, which didn’t feel good. But after a string of casual sexual relationships, I was more than a little dead inside, and I didn’t mind sleeping with a guy who I knew would never love me.
Midway through my first semester, I took a pregnancy test with trembling hands, knowing that the plus sign would appear before I even peed on the stick. I was only five weeks pregnant and lacked any of the early signs of pregnancy, but I knew.
I did not deliberate over the decision to have an abortion. My boyfriend certainly didn’t want a baby and neither did I. I was going to be a lawyer, and a baby would only get in the way.
At the same time, however, I knew with a keen awareness and a heart full of anguish what I was about to do. I was going to kill my baby.
And so I did. I went to an abortion clinic where I was given an injection of methotrexate to end the life inside of me.
A few days later, I inserted misoprostol tablets into my vagina, causing me to have contractions, bleed and “pass” my baby.
During this process, I spent my waking hours wailing. It wasn’t even crying, for sometimes there weren’t even tears. I wailed in grief over the life that I was so callously ending. My throat ached and I vomited with regularity. My heart hurt. It hurt so bad.
My roommate and beloved friend, witnessing firsthand the depth of my sorrow, promptly found me a post-abortion counselor. My counselor was a woman in her fifties who had an abortion as a young woman, and later dedicated her professional life to counseling teens and women struggling with the grief and shame that can follow abortion. She shared her abortion story with me, and helped me appreciate that I was not alone in my pain. She also helped me understand that I could be forgiven for what I had done.
If it were not for my faith in Jesus Christ and the knowledge that my actions are forgiven by God, I believe that I would remain in a state of crippling guilt today. But through God’s loving mercy, I am blessed to have three little ones and a husband who understands my sorrow.
My abortion was not a carefree choice of empowerment. It was a dark and deeply sad experience that will linger with me for the rest of my life. But there was help for me – through people who also understood the heartbreaking side of abortion – people who were willing to share their stories of pain and healing with me.
I can only hope that sharing my story will help even one person understand that you are not alone. I know your pain. It’s deep and bitter. But there are millions of us who have experienced your grief. Millions of us have aborted our babies.
Find a post-abortion counselor, even if your abortion was many years ago. They will help you shed light on the darkness of your pain.
And know that there is forgiveness for you through Jesus, his death on the cross and resurrection. He died so that you could be forgiven.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
With three kids (aged five, four and one) I spend a fair portion of my summer hanging around a pool that is two-and-a-half feet at its deepest point. And as my kids delight in the concrete rectangle filled with pee water, I do my best to enjoy their giggles and not think about its bacterial content. But try as I might, sometimes I freaking hate the baby pool. Here are the top six reasons why:
1. Standing in thigh deep water. Now that my baby is 22 months old, I finally have the cajones to put on a two-piece swimsuit. And although I don’t feel awesome in it, I feel sort of okay. I’m learning to embrace my momma bod. That is, until I have to stand around a bunch of other parents in thigh deep water. Nothing says body confidence like one toddler pulling down the back of your bikini bottom while the other one squeezes the flabby part of your belly and giggles.
2. That one smart ass kid. While all of the other children happily splash and wait their turn for the slide, this kid is busy squirting you in the face with a water toy and smiling at you when you ask him to stop. He is bold and brassy, with egotistical arrogance, elbowing toddlers out of his way, and his mom or nanny is always the one at the far end of the pool with her nose in her phone. And it takes every fiber of your being not to scream across the pool, “Get over here and manage this kid so I don’t have to do it for you!” But since you’re so polite and non-judgmental, you scream it in your head instead.
3. The useless high school aged life guards. Last summer my best friend’s two-year-old fell into the pool right in front of a high school aged life guard. When it quickly became obvious that the life guard wasn’t making a move to rescue her kid, my friend jumped into the pool fully clothed and saved her daughter. Not missing a beat, the life guard blew her whistle and yelled, “Ma’am! Clothing is not permitted in the pool!” Great. Thanks for that. I was confused about that rule.
4. The mom holding a tiny baby while rocking a bikini. I know, I know – I already talked about the bikini issue. But there is always that one mom holding her three-month-old while wearing her black string bikini, and looking positively amazing doing it. You know that you shouldn’t judge her based on her looks, but you kind of hate her.
5. Worrying about “dry drowning.” Ever since the horrific warnings about “dry drowning” circulated social media a few summers ago, every gulp of water swallowed by your little one is the potential kiss of death. Not only do you have to fear that your kid will drown while they’re actually swimming, now you have to worry that they’ll drown in their sleep four hours later. And even though my pediatrician assured me that dry drowning is exceedingly rare, it still scares the crap out of me. And speaking of crap…
6. The kid that takes a dump in the pool. You really, really hate this kid. He always manages to crap in the pool during the hottest part of the day, requiring the entire pool to be cleared for at least an hour so that those high school aged lifeguards can fish out his turds and “clean” the pool water. And when your kids drag you back into the pool as soon as it re-opens, you climb in with the full knowledge that you’re probably still swimming in his poo.
So suck it up mommies, and do your best to enjoy the baby pool. It’s gonna be a long summer.
I spent this week serving as my five-year-old’s camp counselor at his preschool bible camp. Our memory verse for the week was John 13:35, which reads, “All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” These words were spoken by Jesus to his disciples after he humbly washed their feet.
Matthew Henry, in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, said this of the passage,
It may be understood of the special instance of love to all his disciples which he was now about to give, in laying down his life for them. Greater love hath no man than this. Has he thus loved us all? Justly may he expect that we should be loving to one another. Not that we are capable of doing any thing of the same nature for each other, but we must love one another in some respects after the same manner; we must set this before us as our copy, and take directions from it. Our love to one another must be free and ready, laborious and expensive, constant and persevering; it must be love to the souls one of another. We must also love one another from this motive, and upon this consideration—because Christ has loved us.
We love because Christ loved us. And we aren’t just called to love people who look and act like us – that is easy to do.
When is the last time you loved someone in a “laborious and expensive, constant and persevering” way? I ask myself the question as much as I ask you – for this is the type of love that Christians are called to.
With news of hatred and murder in a historic place of worship in South Carolina, my heart is heavy and my mind is burdened by thoughts of what the future holds. The men and women who died there during a bible study gathering were my brothers and sisters in Christ.
How do we respond to such darkness, hatred and evil?
Through the love of Christ Jesus.
“All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” John 13:35
In case yesterday’s hints were not entirely obvious…I just returned from a nine day visit to my native state of Louisiana! And boy, did we see and do a lot. Our trip to St. Francisville was one of the highlights. It is a quaint little Louisiana town, with rolling hills entirely uncharacteristic of the flat terrain throughout most of the state. While in St. Francisville, we visited Rosedown Plantation.
There are many surviving plantations in Louisiana, but Rosedown is perhaps among the most intriguing. Rosedown remained under the ownership of the Turnbull family from the time of its creation until the 1950’s. Nearly all of the house’s contents, including ornate furniture, art, musical instruments, clothing and personal letters and journals, belonged to the original owners, making it an amazingly accurate glimpse into a bygone era. In fact, the current caretakers are presently discovering treasure troves of historical personal effects in the house’s large attic. It’s a time capsule.
Surrounded by formal gardens with many of the original plantings,
and shaded by Southern live oaks dripping with Spanish moss,
it is like few other places on earth.
We wandered the grounds for as long as young attention spans would permit.
That’s Jersey Boy with his precious baby girl at his side.
We toured the main house, with its expansive and idyllic Louisiana front porch.
I could sit in those rocking chairs for days.
But underneath the beauty of it all, I remained keenly aware of the many lives that were exploited to achieve such grandeur. At the height of Rosedown’s operations as a cotton plantation, the Turnbull family owned approximately 450 slaves, and evidence of their use of slave labor can be found throughout the property – from the “shoo-fly fan” that was manually operated by a young slave boy during the family’s lengthy formal meals,
to the narrow and steep service staircase utilized by the slaves,
with wear marks from their feet still obvious.
Rosedown feels a bit like an eerie contradiction between beauty and elegance on one hand, and human oppression and abuse on the other. The place drips with an air of melancholy.
If you’re ever in Louisiana, a visit to Rosedown is well worth your time. With highly knowledgeable tour guides and acres of picturesque gardens to roam, it is a unique glimpse into an era only to be read about in books. The place will transfix you.
And there is a portion of my crew, after a humid afternoon wandering the grounds. (With Mimi sporting the coral top.)