Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blogging About Blogging

EDIT: To clarify, I'm not finished blogging forever. This isn't the end of Emily is Smiling. However, for the time being, I need a break.

This is all a big ramble and definitely breaking the unspoken rule of "Never Blog About Blogging," but if you read my blog regularly at all, I hope you'll take a moment to read.

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting as frequently on this blog in recent months, and when I have, they have not been as thoughtfully written or as in-depth as they were before. I have been blogging for 5 years now. The New Year is about to begin, and I thought I would outline a little about what my blogging priorities look like for the year 2015.

I love to write. I always have. One of the things that I love to write about the most is my faith in Jesus, because it is the most important thing in my life. It is the most significant piece of my identity and a huge part of who I am. Let me reassure any readers that even when my posts on this blog consist of pictures from Instagram or lists of books that I'm reading, it isn't because I'm wearying of my faith. It's because I'm wearying of blogging.

This is in part because the world's response to blogging is also changing. In the year 2014, online audiences have been moving largely out of the blogging sphere to share their thoughts in other places. Posting comments on blogs is practically a thing of the past, which means conversations between bloggers and readers are almost nonexistent now. This isn't only happening to me. Nearly every blog on the Internet has taken a hit in both readership and, especially, comments in the last year or two.

While view-count isn't the sole reason why anyone should blog, it does play a part. Since I began blogging 5 years ago, I've considered my blog as both a journal and a ministry, a way to reach out to people who are looking for encouragement as they walk with Jesus. With less people taking the time to read blogs or join in conversation, the time I put into writing thoughtful blog posts is affected. I desire to put my effort into forms of ministry where people are receiving and giving back, where community can be found.

Also, the amount of time I choose to put into blogging these days is changing, regardless of who is reading. I've found ministries that have impacted my heart more in this season, like Deaf ministry. I'm a busy college student. My grandma was in the hospital for almost the entire month of December, which focused my thoughts and intentions recently more on family than on the Internet.

A day may come in the future where I sit down and re-shape Emily is Smiling into what it was before. I treasure some of the blog posts I've written. This place is forever special to me. But for right now, most of my attention is straying to other places and other ministries.

I'm not ready to give up this blog completely yet, so don't think I'm never going to post again after January 1, but I will be posting less. Many of my intimate thoughts about faith and about Jesus are being journaled right now instead of blogged, and sometimes I may share them on here, but quite often, I won't. The things I've blogged about in seasons past are still heavy on my heart, and I'm still working hard to implant them in my life, but Emily is Smiling is not a big priority for me in this moment. There is a season for everything, and my season of frequent blogging may be coming to a close. At least for now.

I'm still happy to talk with anyone who reads this blog, and I'll be back now and then to share both silly and serious things. But here's an update of what's going on in my life right now. I hope this long tangle of words makes some kind of sense.

I love you all,



  1. Emily, thank you so much for this. My heart is bursting! Never could I have dreamed of such a wonderful, loving, generous, illuminating, frank, penetrating, thought-provoking (and entertaining!) response to my blundering questions. This is the Emily I've missed, and more, and better! As people in France sometimes say, "Je n'en reviens pas!" (I'm not coming back from it!)

    As I said in a comment to another post, I agree wholeheartedly with your priorities, especially putting offline work ahead of online work. My prolonged absences from this blog have been partly because I suspended all my Internet projects indefinitely. They were taking too much time away from my other priorities, offline. I didn't want to abandon this blog altogether though, and I'm glad I didn't! I really hope I can still get some updates from you now and then, even if only once or twice a year!

    I've seen the online trend away from blogs, but I'm not happy about it, or rather I'm not happy about how and why it's happening, and what I see being lost, that I don't see happening on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I might post more about that here, or in one of my blogs, after I think about it some more.

  2. Emily, I was going to try to organize my thoughts about the trend away from blogging, but sometimes a lot gets lost in that process, so I'm going to try just pouring this out.

    In the fifteen years or more that I've been on the Internet, one of my questions has been, how can we use the Internet to help spread the knowledge and love of God? Another has been, how much, and in what ways, am *I* called to try to do that? Most of those years I felt very strongly a calling to practice fellowship with people I saw being stigmatized and marginalized, in each of the forums and other online communities where I posted; and to try to help improve other people's attitudes and behavior towards them. Invariably, the conversations I tried to have with people were flooded with off-topic posts, and other people feuding with each other.

    A few years ago I saw better possibilities for those conversations in blog comments, and in fact I have had a few of those conversations in a few blogs, including this one. Heart-to-heart, purposeful conversations, for example about what we can do help all people, near and far, live better lives. Then I saw those rivers drying up, as people were drawn more and more into social networking.

    I've been on Facebook for many months now, but I've just barely begun with Twitter and all the others, so there might be better possibilities in those than I'm seeing now, but at this point I don't see how they can make up for what we've lost by turning away from blogging, and as I see it we've lost a *lot*. Of course the new networks open up new possibilities, and I certainly want to learn how to use them, but if those possibilities don't include all the possibilities in blogging, I hope we can either revive blogging, or find some other way to recover what we've lost.

    What do you think? *If* we are called to use the Internet to help spread the gospel, do you see all the possibilities that we had in blogging, in the social networking that's popular now? If not, what do you think we can do about it?

    One possibility I see is that we'll still use blogs for some of our conversations, the way that you and I have been discussing. It doesn't have to be every day, or every week, or even every month. Maybe this will actually purify blogging, and free it up for precisely the possibilities that I'm concerned about. Maybe people who have interests on the Internet besides socializing, will eventually go back to blogging part of the time, for those purposes, without all the distractions that have now been transferred to social networks.

  3. Hey, Emily!

    I'm sure you don't remember, but two years ago I commented asking for advise on how to get through my aunt getting cancer and then passing away. The advise you have me was always encouraging, and I'm happy to say a year after she passed I was able to turn back to the Lord. Thank you.
    I've loved everyone one of your posts and really enjoyed reading about your trip to Africa! Africa is a passion of mine and I get to go for the first time this year!
    I hope the Lord blesses you, and that you have the opportunity to follow the passions He has given you. :)

    I've loved reading your blog!

    P.S. Sorry for the rambling. :)

    1. I definitely remember you, Haley, and I am so glad to hear that you love Jesus and get to go to Africa! I love reading your comments!

      I'm not finished blogging; it may just look like more like once a month instead of three times a week.

      It means so much to me that you have been reading for this long!

  4. Emily, there's something on my heart that I want to share with you. I'm getting ready to write about it in an Internet discussion, and the thought came to me to share it with you. I don't imagine it will be anything new to you, but it might mean something to you anyway, to hear it now, from me, and you might have something to share in response.

    At the heart of the gospel, as I understand it, is God in Jesus. Not the words "God in Jesus." The appearance of God Himself, in Jesus. Whatever we do to help spread the gospel, whatever words we use, however much we quote the bible, and however much God might grant us to show the fruits of the Spirit, none of that is the gospel itself. Those are ways that God grants us to participate in His work.

    That isn't actually what I wanted to share with you, but it came to me when I started writing this.

    What I wanted to share with you is about the gift of faith.

    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God ..."
    - Ephesians 2:8

    For many months, my heart has been burning with a desire to help raise awareness of that gift, and its value, among the people who have accepted it, and to stir up in their hearts an equally burning desire to nurture it in themselves and in others, and to help spread it far and wide.

    That's all. Not nearly as much as I thought I wanted to say, but now I don't know what else to say. Some time I would like to share ideas and experiences with you, in helping to spread the gospel, if that could possibly interest you.

  5. You said it's okay if we ask you for an update sometimes, about your walk with Jesus. Maybe some time in the next week or two? Or three?

  6. Actually the number of blog readers has decreased, but you can use links in social networks to invite your followers to read your posts. If something in my message was confused, excuse me. My native language is Portuguese

  7. I just stumbled across your song "Beauty" on YouTube.

    I love the message. I love the message. At the same time, it was very sobering. Very sobering. I'm still a little stunned.

    I've been doing a lot of Web surfing the last few days, looking for examples of the wonderful healing story I see associate with the killings at Chapel Hill. Some of the family members have appealed to all people to respond to the killings by shining a light on the lives of service of the students who were killed, and to carry on their legacy. Carrying on their legacy will be easy for you: Just keep doing what you're already doing!

  8. I've enjoyed your blog. Unfortunately, the day I discovered it as a source of inspiration is the day I also discovered you're discontinuing it (to a degree). I'm desperately trying to find ways to improve communication between my sponsored girls and me before I meet them in 7 & 8 months, respectively. I did enjoy your blog on what to ask your kids. God's blessings on you and your ministry!