Where Did She Come From?

It's true. I'm a bona fide, certified wall-flower. Enough so that many times at church people think I'm aloof or stuck-up. That always makes me cringe because I'm not. I'm usually scared silly, rarely know what to say to people and have been known to make some embarrassing tongue-tangles.

Thankfully, I've not been sentenced to aloofdom. Over the course of time I've learned a few tricks that have changed my life and how people perceive me. This journey started when I finally surrenedered to God and started writing. I found my way to Faithwriters and discovered I needed a screen name to get on the forum boards. Since I was clueless, I looked around. One name I saw several times was itsjoanne. I liked that her screen name was still part of her so I played with my name. That got me to thinking about who I really was. Throughout my life I've been three different people, at least...
3rd grade, wearing my favorite shirt.

Bratty Jo is what close family friends called me when I was just a little girl. For some reason they thought it fit me, but I'm still lost as to why. Hehe.

Peej is who I was as a teen in Ecuador because there was another Patty in the dorm I lived in and it was confusing to have two Pattys. Patty Jo quickly became PJ which, when slurred is Peej. Most of my friends called me Peej and in my mind was synonymous with the more outgoing side of my nature.

High School graduation.

Patty is who I grew up to be. Leaving Peej behind, I settled into Patty, the very quiet, shy woman with five homeschooled kids. It's the only side of me people around here had ever seen, but it wasn't who I was, not really. I knew Peej was still in there, constantly yacking in my ear.

Since that's who I am, I chose impeej (I'm Peej) as my Faithwriter screen name, never guessing the life it would trigger. And it's good I didn't know because the knowledge would have been too much for me. The more comfortable I became on the boards, the more Peej stepped forward and assumed control of my online presence. Once again I became more outgoing, more confident, and less restricted within myself. It was truly freeing.

About then I went to a big convention with my two oldest children. They attended sessions while I was volunteer help and was assigned to work in the “Diamond Lounge”. The place was well named. Everyone wore not just one diamond, but a whole impressive collection of diamonds. There I was, a homeschool mom, in the midst of America's upper crust and I was lost. Some of the other volunteers noticed how lost I was and with their help I made it through that long weekend.

One key thing I learned to do was to pull Peej off the Faithwriter forums and hide behind her. I noticed that as Peej presented herself with a friendly smile and confidence, others responded accordingly and treated me like a helpful peer, despite my lack diamonds. They had no idea I was smiling out of amazement at how well Peej was working for me. As Peej I was able to relax some and interact with people whereas Patty had been in lock-down mode.

Not only did I pull Peej into service, but as I wished my older sister were with me, I realized I could borrow from her. I knew how she acted in these situations. I knew the smile she used and her mannerisms, and because we're so alike I was able to try Cheryl on. From past experience I knew I could pull off acting like Cheryl, after all, I had once convinced our mom I was her, so I set to work and between Peej and Cheryl I was even able to feel somewhat comfortable.

Choosing to try my sister's techniques and to let the Peej side of me take over was a lifesaver and a lesson I've not forgotten.

Forgotten Cinnamon

I'm posting today at the Cafe, won't you join me there?
My younger daughter made cookies the other day—oatmeal raisin cookies specifically for her Daddy. She did a very fine job and they taste good. The problem is the recipe.

You see, 15 years ago when I first copied that recipe, I forgot to include the ½ tsp. Cinnamon in the line up of ingredients. The cookies are fine without the cinnamon, but are much better with it. So, I took a green pen and, in the margin, I added cinnamon and I even put big arrows pointing to it. Do you think it's helped? Only a little. Many times we forget and end up adding it at the last possible minute—as an after thought.

What I need to do is take 5 minutes and recopy the recipe, putting the cinnamon in it's proper place so it won't be overlooked and forgotten. It's only taken me 15 years to realize this.

My Bible reading is sometimes like that forgotten cinnamon. Because I haven't taken the time to write it into the recipe of my day, in its proper place and in the order that works best, it's overlooked or forgotten until the last possible moment, and sometimes it's left out all together. Sure, my day is okay like that, but it would be so much better with it. Maybe it's time for me to recopy the recipe of my day and get the recipe right, so important ingredients aren't left out or left till last.

I tend to be one that saves the best and the important for last. That might work with gifts and food (oh yeah!) but it doesn't work for my spiritual walk. I need to go for the gold, for GOD, first thing in my day, before I get distracted and before I get pulled seven different directions. I really need to rewrite the order of my day so the important thing is at the beginning of my day, not just tacked onto the end. I can always do some Bible reading as I settle in bed, and get some extra time in God's Word that way, and have those words running through my head as I sleep.

When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You,
"Your face, O LORD, I shall seek." Psalm 27:8

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up,
left the house, and went away to a secluded place,
and was praying there. Mark 1:35
Lord, help me to rewrite my day so spending time with You, in Your Word, is not just written in the margin.

Say Cheese for the Letter P

Welcome to this week's a 2 z: Take 2
and the letter P.

One of the perks of living in the country is having pets. Plural.

Puppers....who thinks every picture is about her.

Gracie, the free spirit...

And Toby. My baby and probably my most unusual pet. He's a free spirit too. Some days he loves me and some days he simply ignores me. But when things start going haywire in his little life, he conveniently remembers I'm mama.

So tell me, which of your pets is your favorite?

If you're joining us for the a2z: Take 2 meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter P, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Stepping Up to Me

Last August, after coming home from the Faithwriters conference where I taught a session on platform and persona, I posted Faux Pa-tty, answering the question "Am I a fake if I step into a persona?". I intended to do a mini series called Authentically Me on the topic, but got distracted. What a surprise. (not) But now I think it's time to pull this idea from the closet.

Two years ago, after taking Terry Burns' class 'Too Shy to Pitch or Promote', I began building and using my persona and the Authentically Me mini series will cover what I did, how I did it, and the results I've seen.

The Set Up
Shortly after taking Terry's class, I decided that if I wanted a ladies' Bible study to attend I was going to have to speak up and see if there were others interested. There were but no one wanted to teach (hey, we're all busy people and teaching takes far more time than simply attending and participating, so I totally understood). I saw that if I was going to have a study to attend I would need to teach it, so I pulled on my big girl panties and stepped to the plate, armed with what I had learned in Terry's class.

Now you have to understand, contributing a thought to our Sunday School lesson was enough to give me heart palpitations. It wasn't just speaking in front of people I struggled with, it was also being the center of attention. After 15+ years of trying to be invisible, the thought of teaching was enough to make me sick to my stomach. It wasn't knowing the material, it was communicating it. Thankfully, there were only 5 or 6 us and those ladies helped me and taught me sooo much. LoL. Those same ladies are still helping and teaching me things!

I had two choices:
  • I could continue to hide and miss out on many opportunities and fun things, and grow stagnant
  • OR, I could face my fear in a safe environment, with ladies I knew who would laugh with me and help me over the rough spots. Ladies who wanted me to succeed and grow and were willing to invest in me as I learned and grew.

Even though it looks like a no-brainer from here, it was a difficult, life changing choice for me because of the fear factor. I chose to teach and dealt with the weekly sick stomach, the fear and nervousness, and the constant feeling of inadequacy. It was the right choice and a choice I'd make again if I needed to.

A Naaman Complex

Recently my husband asked me to do a few things, and I have to admit that my response wasn't too good. There’s nothing glorious nor grand about wiping down cupboards, washing ceiling fan fixtures and especially about scrubbing hard water marks out of toilets, but they are things that need to be done, and they do fall into the things I'm responsible for. You see, I have a Naaman complex.

Naaman was angry because the prophet Elisha wouldn’t even come out to speak to him, and he was a great, important man. Too many times I get caught up in my own importance, which is truly laughable because I’m not great, nor important, to anybody except maybe my family. Just like Naaman, I tend to stand there and sputter and fume about why I need to do such menial tasks.

So Naaman raced away in his chariot. Thankfully he had wise servants who helped him see how silly he was being and the result was that he went to the Jordan River. Did he quit when he saw no results after going under six times? If he had, he would’ve died a leper. Did he understand why it had be seven times? Did he moan about seven? Did he try to bargain it down to five? The Bible just says he dipped himself seven times as he was instructed to. Like Naaman, I don’t need to know why, I just need to obey, without moaning or bargaining.

For Naaman, it came down to complete obedience. He had faith, why else would he have undertaken such a long journey? But faith without obedience would have left him a leper. I have faith, but if I don’t obey God my faith will grow cold.

For the Christian, the secret to our spiritual growth lies in obedience. That means being faithful in the multitude of little things because it’s through obeying in the mundane and menial things, that we learn faithfulness for the bigger things. If I won't do the simple things my husband has asked me to do, things that make perfect sense to me, will I do the things God asks me to do--things that make no sense to me?

Even though I may start like Naaman did, fuming and raging because things aren’t going as I expected and because I’ve been asked to do some things that I don't want to do, I'm going to make sure I end like Naaman did: faithfully obeying.

Naaman's account is found in 2 Kings 5:1-14.

So tell me, am I the only one who acts like Namaan sometimes?

Won't you join us at Living By Grace today?

If You Met a Purple Monster...

Welcome to our first ever Progressive Interview. What is a progressive interview? Well, instead of food at ever stop, we serve up one interview question, answered by many people. These questions were asked on our Take Flight Facebook group and we'd love to have you join us there for blog post idea starters as well as informal blog...help...fun...something. It's a group designed to help bloggers blog and is an extension of the Take Flight challenges and ideas I post here.

The question I asked the group was one of my favorite silly questions that helps me get to know authors more...

If you were to find a purple polka-dotted monster in your kitchen one morning, how would you respond?

And here's their answers...

Sharon Clements Srock Purple is my favorite color, my kitchen is my favorite room, so I'm two markers in the plus category. I'd fix him some coffee.

Yvonne Blake Hopefully, he isn't too dangerous. If he's spotted, it probably means he isn't feeling well and couldn't go to school that day. I'd give him a cookie and a glass of milk and ask him if he wants to sit on the couch with me and watch "Winnie the Pooh."

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer First I would take my temperature and finding it normal decide I need caffeine. If he's still there I'd say, "Come into my office and let's find out what your story is."

Valerie Comer I would look closer, realize the polka dots were actually rounded hearts, then recongnize my granddaughter's jammies. I'm pretty sure she's not dangerous, though at two years old, she can RAWR mightily. I think I would tickle her until she giggles and make her some breakfast. Maybe with blueberries, so we could have more polka dots.

Sherri Wilson Johnson I'd hand him a mop!

Joanne Sher The first thing I'd do is clean off my glasses - just to be sure it wasn't smudges. When I was certain it WAS the monster, I'd ask it (very politely) if it wouldn't mind cleaning my house. One can always hope, right? And, of course, if it said yes, I'd offer it a couple Cadbury Creme Eggs and a cup of something hot from the Keurig.

Linda McQuinn Carlblom I'd get my camera and take a few pictures just for proof. If it turned out to be friendly, I'd ask him to stay while I called my grandkids to come over to play with him!

Donna Winters "Hey, there. Know how to cook eggs? Better not let the dogs catch you here. You could be toast!"

Sharon Hoover After changing my pants (that I've pee-ed) and pulling my exhuberant terrier away from the dotted monster, I would to pretend that he's just another guest and offer a cup of English Breakfast tea. In reality, though, I would scream and jump out the back window!

Janet Sketchley How big is he, Patty? A little one would get "aww, he's cute!" In any case, once I got over the "am I really seeing this?" if there was no apparent danger I'd be looking to see which of my sons was pranking me.

Kristi Peifer Hey pal, I'll have a stack of chocolate chip pancakes with a side of scrambled eggs.

Christina Rich If I were to find a purple polka-dotted monster in my kitchen I'd probably go back to bed. Obviously, I haven't been sleeping enough.

And how would I respond to finding a purple polka-dotted monster in my kitchen one morning?
Relief. You see, this particular monster went undercover as a child of mine and I've been just waiting for her true colors to come out. I knew they would eventually and I've been sneaking around trying to catch her for months. I should've guessed she'd show up in the kitchen! (I'll hafta check her pockets for cookies--I bet she about cleaned out my stash.) She must've stayed up too late and didn't make it back into hiding under the bed before the sun came up. Silly ol' monster.

So tell me,

How would YOU respond to a purple polka-dotted monster in your kitchen one morning?


Be sure to check out the other progressive interview participants for more great questions! (Their links are with their answers above as well as below.)

Oh So Good

Welcome to this week's a 2 z: Take 2
and the letter O.

Last month, my sisters and I were able to go to Arizona to visit our parents and Mom took us to St. Anthony's Monastery.The grounds were gorgeous and there were oh so many things to take pictures of.

The first half of our time in the gardens I spent trying to figure out what scent I was hunting for, and we finally found it, at the very back of the property we were allowed to roam...

Orange trees in full blossom.

If I could have, I would have rolled in the scent to carry it with me. One of the best fragrances I've smelled in my life.

So tell me, what's a favorite fragrance of yours?

If you're joining us for the a2z: Take 2 meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter O, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

What Good is a Soapbox?

When thinking about topics for your blog and platform, pay close attention to those things that tend to be your soapboxes. Yanno, those topics that when you start your family and friends roll their eyes and mutter "There she goes again." Those topics are gold. Really, they are--even if your family doesn't think so.

Soapboxes are...

  • Something you're passionate about.
  • Something you know a lot about.
  • A topic you don't mind studying to expand your knowledge base.
  • Topics you never tire of talking about.

Why are soapboxes so valuable?

  • Not only do you already know the material, but you're passionate about them.
  • Your passion draws people and ignites their interest, enthusiasm and spreads to them.
  • Soapboxes give you a jumping off point for many things.
  • They help you home in and focus with precision.
  • That precision changes your message from buck shot to laser beam. 
  • Knowing what your soapboxes are allows you to find places for your articles or events looking for speakers.

One Soapbox or More?

Although you may only start out with one soapbox, you might find those little critters multiply or sprout when you aren't watching.

Years ago, my one and only soapbox was homeschooling. It was a topic I knew about and lived. That grew into a second box: being a wife. As the years went on, herbs became a topic I love talking about (bet you didn't know that one! LoL.) because it's something I've spent years studying.

Those are three of my soapboxes, and even though you don't hear much about them on here, I've used them to write for other sites over the years. Those soapboxes helped me tremendously, and still do. These days you're likely to know and recognize some other favorites of mine: Blogging (and all its sub-topics), Platforms, Persona.There's a couple others that are sprouting and maturing on the sidelines and you'll meet them after awhile.

So tell me, what are some of your soapboxes that you can develop and use?

Frosted Blossoms

My kids, eight years ago. ;-)
These nights we're having our annual late frost and after the warm days we've had, it makes me shiver more than usual.

I love watching things bloom in the spring and I hate seeing the peach and cherry blossoms die instead of maturing into fruit, but I know things happen for a reason. For the fruit trees, the frost thins out many blossoms, allowing the tree to focus its energy on growing fewer, but larger fruit. And everyone likes larger, better looking fruit.

Many times I've started things and God has sent a frost and killed those blossoms. It wasn't that the things I was doing was bad, it was just a thinning out process so that other things could grow and mature into bigger and better fruit for the Lord.

The thinning process isn't fun nor easy, but if you want a beautiful crop of large fruit it's necessary. Personally, I would rather have a few large, tasty pieces of fruit than small, wormy ones.

“...and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2b

So tell me, have you had a late frost in your life too?

Take Flight: Progressive Interview

This week's Take Flight challenge is a little different but one I think will be fun.

You know how I'm always saying that misery loves company, right? And you know that the a2z meme grew out of the misery of a dry spell, and Take Flight grew out of the infamous question "But what do I blog about??"

Well, this week's challenge grew out of a question Christina asked me about author interviews... As I thought about her question, I thought it would be fun to interview each other, and even more fun to see what we can learn with just one question (micro interview, anyone?). But it's soooo much more fun when friends are included so...

 This week's challenge is a social networking and blogging idea...

A Progressive Interview.

Think a progressive dinner but rather than serving food at each stop we’ll have interview questions. On Thursday, April 19th, each blogger will post their one interview question and the responses they’ve received to that question. You can post your question on the Take Flight FB group. To participate in this challenge, join us there.

So a blog post might look like this:

Q: What’s a verse that means a lot to you currently and why?

Patty Wysong: I Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismatyed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work of the Lord is finished.” Why? I struggle with fear constantly. Fear has often locked me down and made it so I’m unable to do anything, but I have God’s promise that He will NOT fail me nor forsake me...

Joanne Sher: Luke 2:20 because....

The answers will include the answers of whoever answered on the FB group page.

The goal of this progressive interview:
As bloggers: to introduce our blog readers to others in the hopes the reader will find an answer interesting and click on a link to get to know the responder better.

As readers: to meet someone interesting, learn something new, laugh, enjoy the answers. Some questions will be off-the-wall, some might be serious.

One question per participant, unless we decide to throw out two. LOL. 

If interested in participating in this progressive interview, join us at the Take Flight Facebook group where questions are waiting for you and we're looking forward to your question.

Have a question for us? Leave it in the comments and we'll see about answering it. ;-)

The Take Flight Facebook group is a gathering place for bloggers looking for post ideas and blog help. It's a great networking place where we can link together, work together and multiply the fruit of our efforts. We'd love to have you join us!

What's New?

Welcome to this week's a 2 z: Take 2
and the letter N.
Okay, I think my brain is fried. Between the FANTASTIC Easter musical I was able to participate in, adding a few new words to my work in progress, and trying to wrap my brain around new networking things Edie Melson is teaching us in the ACFW online course loop, my brain is zapped.

But that gives me my word for the letter N...

Here's what's new with me...
  • an author page on Facebook I'd love for you to Like me. ;-)
  • a Facebook plan that lets me use some of the pictures I enjoy snapping.
  • an idea for two blog series on here.
  • a Facebook group called Take Flight for those looking for blog post ideas and helps Come join us! I'm hoping it will grow into a group for both ideas and networking because working together multiplies our efforts!
  • getting my walks in 3 or 4 times a week.
  • a new door for Toby so it's easier getting him in and out.
  • New friends from Edie's Social Networking class! =) 
  • New leaves and blossoms every day.

New Honeysuckle blossoms about to open.

So tell me, what's new with you?

If you're joining us for the a2z: Take 2 meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter N, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Know Who You're Talking To

Click here for more post on making your blog work for you.
One time I attended a women's video-cast conference. One of the first speakers on the big screen was a man and as I listened to him, I watched the responses of the women around me. Unfortunately, most were less than impressed. This man knew what he was talking about and had a big name, but it seemed he didn't know he was talking to an auditorium full of women. Consequently, many of them checked out mentally. A few hours later, another man was on the big screen and the response was totally different. He spoke to the women in a way they could connect to, and not only did they connect, they got the full impact of his message. I didn't notice any women mentally leaving that session nor did I hear any negative comments about his message later. In fact, he was one of the two favorite speakers of every lady I heard talking after the conference.

Both men were accomplished speakers. Both knew their topic inside-outside-and-upside-down, but only one connected. What was the difference? How much they kept their audience in mind and tailored their message to their audience.

If you study the big blogs—the ones with thousands of feed readers and followers, you'll notice something—those bloggers not only know who they're talking to, but they understand their readers. Your audience is a key ingredient in blogging. Knowing who they are and what you can do for them, is crucial.

Once you know your target audience, you can seek them out like a heat-seeking missile would. How?
  • Keywords
  • Post topics
  • Visit similar blogs and comment
  • Find Facebook groups that fit and interact
  • Frequent forums of like-minded people and get involved

Remember the old slogan, “Do not ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”? Well, the same thing holds true in the blogging world. Decide what your blog can do for others and do it.

Take-away value. Make sure there is take-away value for your readers. A message, a tool, instruction, a chance to laugh, something cool to see or learn, or even just a smile. If there is consistently no take-away value for your readers, they'll quit visiting. Blogging may feel like a one way street, but it's not. Thinking otherwise will cut down the effectiveness of your blog.

Give your readers what they want. If your readers expect gourmet, don't serve them goulash. They trust you for the content they're looking for. So does that mean your only choice is a niche blog? Not at all, but if you don't deliver the goods often enough, they'll be less willing to trust you with their time. False advertising on blogs will dramatically drop your readership.

Visual appeal. Many of us would prefer it if content were king, but it's not always that simple. Yes, killer content is a must, but I've heard of many people who stop frequenting sites because the layout and colors are the equivalent of fingernails raking down a blackboard. Do all you can to make your blog not only reflect your personality and who you are, but also one that is attractive to your specific readers. You want to draw readers in and not repel them before they get to your content.

In the world of writing, you often have to give away a lot of work. It's one of those things, though, that if you stick around, the return-on-investment is tremendous.

Out of Love

Have you ever broken a bottle of perfume in the house? I have. The scent fills the house with fragrance and lingers for many days—even after scrubbing and airing.

Most of us know the story of the woman anointing Jesus. It's found in John 12:1-9, Matthew 26:1-13 and Mark 14:1-9. John's account gives us the most detail, and it's there that we see the woman is Mary, Martha's sister. Mary, Lazarus' sister. Mary, the woman who chose to worship rather then be distracted than by trying to do more than was necessary.

Jesus was eating dinner with his friends at the home of Simon the Leper when a woman, Mary, anointed His head and feet with extremely expensive perfume, and then used her hair to wipe them. Judas Iscariot declared the act horribly wasteful and said it would've been better to sell the perfume and use the proceeds to help the poor. (Doesn't that sound so good?) Some of the disciples picked up his outcry, but Jesus hushed them and told them to leave her alone. Mark 14:8 quotes Jesus as saying “She has done what she could;” The phrase arrested me. Mary did what she could...

Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. ~John 12:3

I can't help but wonder how long the fragrance lingered in Simon the Leper's home? How many people smelled the perfume on Jesus? In John 12:9 it says there was a large crowd there to see both Jesus and the resurrected Lazarus--did they smell the perfume? How could they not if they were anywhere near Jesus?

When Mary poured out her precious perfume on Jesus, she did what she could. She gave her best to the One she loved most. Mary openly declared her devotion to Jesus, not caring who would know or see. As she poured out her love on Jesus, her gift probably splashed over onto her—physically and I'm sure spiritually, too. Not only would Jesus have carried the scent with Him when He left the house, but Mary would have also. Her life was fragrant with her love for Jesus.

According to John's account, this event happened about a week before Jesus was crucified. The perfume Mary used was very pure and of a high quality and I wonder how long the fragrance lingered on Jesus? Could Pilate and Herod smell it, even vaguely, when He stood before them? Was that scent burned on their memory, haunting them every time they smelled it? So many memories are associated with smell. How often were the apostles pulled back to those days leading up to Christ's crucifixion because they smelled the nard that was used for burials?

Jesus willingly poured out and gave His life for us on the cross when He died in our place and for our sins. How can we do any less than our best for Him? How can we consider anything too precious to give Him?

When we follow Mary's example and do what we can—when we give wholeheartedly to Jesus, our lives are touched and carry the fragrance of being with the Savior. Those times that we give Him the leftovers of our best, the leftovers of our time and efforts, are like a bad odor, a stench even, compared to the precious fragrance of giving our all to Him.

Jesus gave His life out of love for us. Let's anoint Him with our best and make Him the anointed One of our lives—out of love for Him.

Come for Easter

Each year our church does a big Easter musical.

Starting with the Triumphal Entry, we work our way through several scenes of Jesus' life, giving the children's choir a chance to participate--always a favorite part...

Miracles of Jesus
are acted out,
the music stays with you,
filling your head
and your heart.
Bringing you to worship.

Then we come to the cross.
And it's powerful.
Heart rending.

But thank goodness, the account doesn't end there, because Jesus' life did NOT end on the cross.

He arose!!

We'd love to have you visit us.

So tell me, what does your church do for Easter?

*Pictures courtesy of Meridith, Holly and Jayma. Thank you, ladies.


Joining us for the Easter Take Flight Challenge? Be sure to link up with us!

Take Flight now has a Facebook group! Join us there to keep up with the fun and blog post idea starters and challenges.

Small Starts

I love walking in the mornings. The peace, the beauty. It gives me moments to savor. Moments to look around and see things that are often too small, things that I often miss--both inside me and around me.

These blackberry brambles are springing to life. Their little leaves call me to pause and remember the Creator and thank Him for small starts. Young beauty.

So tell me, do you have a small start you can praise God for?

Monkey Movie!

Welcome to this week's a 2 z: Take 2
and the letter M.

A few weeks ago I introduced you to my monkey, Toby. Today he makes his debut on YouTube. Unfortunately I'm a novice YouTuber and didn't realize that when I rotated my camera the "movie frame" wouldn't follow suit. LoL. What can say? This is video and YouTube stuff is all new to me.

Well that's Toby, in action with marshmallows.

So tell me, have you ever been around a monkey? Was it like you expected?

If you're joining us for the a2z: Take 2 meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter M, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Know Who You Are

The thousand dollar question is often: “What am I going to blog about?” and that's a great question.

Click here for more post on making your blog work for you.
Last week we talked about knowing the purpose of your blog rather than having a niche blog—its something that has helped many of us. Even if you know the purpose, knowing what to blog about can be daunting. Here's an idea to help get some post ideas...

  • Brainstorm. Take ten minutes and write down every single idea that comes to mind. Do not toss any ideas out, no matter how far-fetched or stupid they sound.
  • Study the list and look for threads that tie your ideas together. Are there a few main themes?
  • Are there ideas you could expand on, maybe turn into several posts and not just one?
  • Keep your list and use it.

Blogging is not just what to write about, it's a matter of who you are to your readers. No, I don't mean you have to rank with the stars at all. I'm talking about how you present yourself to your readers. Are you a cool-voiced, professional one week and a down-home country girl the girl the next? If you're just starting out, trying on voices, that might work until you settle into your stride, but once you find that, go with it.

Want an example? Jeannie Campbell is a therapist and her blog, The Character Therapist, is consistent with who she is. She stays in character because it's her. Sure, she may post on personal things occasionally, but she maintains her professionalism in her posts. In contrast, I'm just an ordinary country girl and often use non-words like 'yanno' and 'hafta' because... well, lemme tell ya, they're me. I don't have a professional voice or professional post topics and if I were to try it, my readers might double check the url to see if they were in the wrong place. Both Jeannie and I know who we are and we stay consistent—in fact, our brands mirror who we are. Jeannie's brand: “The character therapist.” Mine: “Finding the extraordinary God in our ordinary lives.” Consistency pays off.

Knowing who you are will help define what you post about and it will dictate your angle on topics. You may write about many of the same things as others, but it's your angle and voice that makes it unique.

Another key to making your blog work for you is to get it in front of as many people as you can, reasonably, without being a streaming advertisement for your site and without doing constant self-promotion. How can you do this?
  • Link your blog to Facebook via Networked Blogs and have the feed post automatically. Facebook taps into readers you probably wouldn't have otherwise.
  • Comment on other blogs. Yes, this takes time and time is at a premium, but if you just leave 5 comments a day, it adds up. (When you do, remember their comment section is not your advertising grounds.)
  • Use keywords that people might use in a search engine.
  • Use the post labels wisely, for topics, not for key words.
  • Offer rss and email subscriptions so people can follow you in a way that work for them to find their way back.
  • Invite them to comment and encourage their responses.
  • Interact with commenters. The comments section can take on a life of its own. Want an example? Seekerville. The comments there are like a 24/7 party and through it all, they're tossing out nuggets of help, encouragement, and things they've learned over the years.

Get yourself out there so people can see you and let your blog work for you.
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