About 15 years ago, my friend Ryan asked me if he should consider dating Jessica – a girl from his church that was quite a bit younger than him. After hearing all the good he had to say about her, I told him to go for it…and he did.
Sadly, I moved away soon after and Ryan (and Jessica) and I lost touch. You know how it goes, life just happens and suddenly a decade and a half flies by… But since then, Ryan and Jessica married (I guess the photo kind of gave that away, huh? ;)), had three kids, and had a whole lot of hills and valleys in their relationship along the way. The refreshing thing about them is, they don’t hide it. They’re genuine. If they’re struggling, they’ll talk about it together and they’ll even share their struggles with others.
Simply put, they’re amazing people, and I’m proud to host Jessica with her blog post today. Read it, share it, and be sure to visit her page. I assure you, you will NOT be sorry.
For as long as I can remember, even when I was a little girl… I have always loved to write. The thoughts and words that I can’t seem to verbalize, I’m able to share through my writing. In journals, online communities, to friends, loved ones, and now on my very own website (www.StrippedDownToReal.com). Anytime I’ve needed to work out my feelings, anytime I’ve wanted to share a story about my life or inspire others..I usually pull out a pad of paper and a pen and eventually work out whatever is going on internally.
I Started a Website…And I’m Freaking Loving It
In the winter of 2017, I attended a gathering with some precious women, and God challenged me to share “my dream” out loud.
My “God Dream” is to write.
- To be an author.
- To use the stories of my life,
- the good and bad,
- the raw and the messy,
- the REAL
…to share hope with others.
There God! I said it! Saying those words out loud to other breathing, living, human beings, was single handedly one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever done! I’ve always dreamed of writing a book someday, writing many books. But to say that out loud when I seemed to think of myself as “only a stay at home mom” was terrifying and so amazingly freeing all at the same time.
Step One…I Started a Website
Fast forward to a August 31st, 2018 – I officially started a website, featuring a blog where I would share real life stories with those looking for encouragement.
What was the purpose in launching this blog titled: Stripped Down To Real?
Here’s the thing, life is not as picture perfect as the movies teach us growing up. None of us are immune to heartache, pain, or disappointment in this life. No matter the form in which it arrives in our lives.
- Loss of a loved one,
- infertility, or
- so many other circumstances that challenge everything we know about ourselves and about life.
I believe with my entirety that no matter the depth or degree of our pain, there is always a purpose. I don’t believe that means that God brought that circumstance into our life to teach us a lesson, but what I do believe it means is that we live in an imperfect word, where plain and simple…bad things happen, even to good people.
The silver lining though.. is that God can take any circumstance and weave purpose and meaning into it! I know that is true, because he’s done it in my life time and time again. In my own life, he’s given me beauty for my ashes countless times.
- Through marriage struggles,
- pregnancy loss,
- unexpectedly raising a child with special needs,
- the ups and downs of parenting,
- battling the lies we believe about ourselves, and so much more!
All of those circumstances, God has weaved purpose into. When I take those seasons of my life, and I “Strip Them Down To Real” the one thing left standing is that God never left my side, and THAT is why I started my website. To inspire others. To encourage others. To give people a place where they can come to feel hope again in a time or season where they’ve felt maybe they’ve lost it.
Step Two: Figuring Out This Crazy Website Thing
I started my website just two months ago now, but I have already received such love and support. In a time where our world is saturated with social media that drives home the lie of perfection, people are drawn to stories that are real and relatable. That is what my blog is all about. That is why I believe people have already started following along, and jumping on board.
I’m definitely a newbie in the blogging world. I’m only just starting out on this crazy journey into the world of blogging, but already it’s been such wild ride! Learning how to get a blog up and running, and doing it WELL, was a learning curve. One that I’m so glad I invested my time and energy into, because from where I’m standing now I know it’s making a difference.
Step Three: Driving Toward the Long Term Goals
Further down the road, the long term goal is to bring in income from my blog. However, right now…and always- my goal is to bring value to the people who take the time to tune into the blog! They are coming to the website with an expectation to receive something valuable from their time spent reading articles on my blog. For that reason, my focus is to deliver on that. Providing content that is:
- inspiring, and
My gift from God is writing, and my gift back to God is sharing it with others. Praying that something I said, or something a Guest Writer shared, would resonate with the heart behind the computer screen reading our content.
My Message to You: Get Out of Your Shell and DO IT!!!
In the last few months it’s been astonishing how many people I have talked to who have congratulated me on getting the blog up and running, but also that THEY themselves, have been considering blogging for quite some time now. When I’ve asked these individuals what’s holding them back, it generally comes down to the same sort of answer. “What if no one reads it?”
You will get out of your blog as much as you pour into it.
With every last fiber of my being, I believe every one of us has a story of our lives to tell. Whether it be like me – telling our story about being a special needs family. Maybe it’s like Derek, and it’s teaching others about finances.
Or maybe it’s about:
- web design,
- sports teams,
- fixing cars on a budget
…THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS!!!
I encourage anyone who has wanted to start a blog to invest in themselves and get the ball rolling!
I Started a Website and I’m Learning Along the Way – It’s Not That Hard, People!
In a day in age of unlimited and free information at our fingertips, you CAN learn the in’s and out’s of starting a blog easily without spending a ton of money. Trust me, I know it’s possible. Remember that fear and doubt might try to wedge their way into your thought pattern to stop you along the way, but stay steadfast in your goal to get up and running!
Once you’re up and running, just keep creating quality content. Don’t stop. You know the old saying, “Quality over quantity” there’s a reason it’s been around so long, it’s wisdom.
- Plan out your content
- Schedule your week to have days/times where you can work on your site and write
- Invest into your readers who take the time to follow your blog, and
- Try to find new and interesting ways to connect with them.
My biggest tip of advice…is to be authentic.
Be real about who you are, what struggles you’ve faced in whatever area of writing you choose to share about on your blog, and don’t try to be like anyone else. The vulnerability will draw people to connect with you on a level that is much deeper than just reading a blog post. Things you share and say will stay with them, and that is exactly why I’m so grateful to be a “blogger”. You get the chance to mold and sculpt the world with your words. So choose them wisely!
I started a website…when are you going to start yours? How about right now?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.