On the 5-Year Anniversary of My Blog

five-years-blogging

“When our lives change, when the world changes,
we must reinvent ourselves as writers.”

~ Louise DeSalvo, Slow Writing

Five years ago today, I published my first blog post.

Liam was asleep in the infant swing in the corner of the kitchen, and it creaked and groaned with every revolution back and forth. Dane, I’m sure, was watching Dinosaur Train or Curious George. He was two. Liam was five months old. Those were the days when we lived on animal crackers and PBS.

I remember the sun streaking through the patio door window. I remember the list of “Evangelical Clichés” I’d printed out to write from over the first few weeks – two sheets of paper, front and back.

When I hit Publish that first time, it felt like jumping into the deep end of some pool that I didn’t really understand. I remember the palpable fear of drowning in it all.

Those of you who have been here a while know the story, perhaps. You know that I didn’t set out to be a blogger, but that I had this manuscript an unruly, wild memoir of being on fire for Jesus and then burning out – a story too Christian for the regular market and too swear-y for the Christian publishers. You need to get a platform, my agent said that summer. You need to start a blog.

And so when I wrote my first post that fall morning, it was really because wanted to publish that book. But also, it was because I was drawn to the idea of being part of The Conversation. I wasn’t sure what The Conversation was, exactly, but I knew that it had something to do with the evolving faith culture and with being heard. It had to do with lending my voice to the deconstruction of the evangelical experience as I had known it and to helping speak something new into being.

At the beginning, this felt desperately important to me.

*

In the five years between that first post and this one, I have written 454 blog posts. I built something like a “platform” and I learned (sort of) how to use Twitter and I found a new literary agent. I got what felt to me like a life-changing telephone call about a two-book deal, and my hand shook when I signed it.

I wrote at four and five in the morning. I wrote during PBS shows and nap time. I published that first manuscript, and then I dove headfirst into the second one. The books I wrote changed me, each of them…but much less than I imagined they would. When I’m honest, I’ll admit that the publishing itself changed almost nothing. It was the writing. Always the writing.

Over the past five years, I felt my body let go of two early pregnancies, and then I felt my heart let go of the dream of a bigger family. I schlepped my boys to early childhood education classes to sing songs with hand motions in a circle. I sent them, one-by-one, to preschool, letting go of them bit by bit, a few hours a day. And then, just a few weeks ago, I took them to their elementary school bus stop where they let go of my hands and waved and waved and disappeared.

Over the last five years, I’ve gotten to read my pieces into microphones at radio stations and at colleges and conferences. Blogging sites swelled and then died. New ones took their place. I did an interview at the St. Paul NPR station and got blindsided by questions about hell.

Five years has taught me what it means to take Internet-comments like bullets to the heart and to keep writing anyway. I’ve obsessed over blog stats and “Facebook Likes”…and then I figured out that I could stop checking them altogether, and so I did. I cut swoopy bangs into my hair and then promptly grew them out. I became a Mac Person.

In the past five years, I have felt God’s presence in the kindness of Zoloft and in the kindness of strangers. Your emails and comments, your photo avatars and twitter handles – they have surrounded me like that great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews as we have seen and acknowledged one another’s hurt and hope.

Five years ago, when I started this blog, we were attending a church that fit us all wrong, and then we found a church that fit us exactly right. And somewhere in the midst of all of that, I stopped writing from loneliness and cynicism and anger and started writing from the place of my own Belovedness.

I’ve wrecked two phones and one computer. I’ve gone into the ditch on icy roads three times and into a pole once. I warred and ragged against winter and darkness, and then I learned to hold still. I learned to watch my breath spiral above me in the cold, Minnesota air. Inhale. Exhale. You are alive.

And what I mean to say is that five years ago, I dove into the pool of Blogging and The Internet and it was just another pool in and of itself. Just another space in which to do my work. But somehow, the Spirit troubled the waters, and when I jumped in, I found myself unexpectedly and miraculously healed.

5-years-later

There is that question you’re always meant to ask when you’re goal setting: Where do you see yourself in five years?

And five years ago, I couldn’t have seen myself here. I couldn’t have imagined that I’d get everything I wanted – the book deal, the Voice, the platform…or at least something like it – and still find myself starting entirely over.

The kids are off to school all day. The house is quiet. The cursor blinks against the white page that is a new beginning. What next? What next? What next?

All I know is that I’ll keep writing here.

It will look different than it did in the beginning – less “how to talk evangelical,” more of what Frederick Buechner calls “listening to your life.” (I need a new tagline. Suggestions welcome.)

There will be, I think, less and less trying to add my voice to The Conversation, the one about faith or the one about politics or the one in which both overlap. There is important work being done there, such important things being said…but it was never a great fit for my soul in the first place, and I think that’s where we get in trouble with faith culture: trying to cram our souls into shapes they were never meant to fit.

Instead on this blog, there will be more of the simple conversations that make up my life. Yours. Ours.

“This is who I am,” Buechner wrote in The Alphabet of Grace. “Who you are I do not know, and yet perhaps I know something. I know that like me you wake up each morning to a day you must somehow live, to a self that you must somehow be, and to a mystery that you cannot fathom if only the mystery of your own life. Thus, strangers though we are, at a certain level there is nothing about either of us that can be totally irrelevant to the other.

“Think of these pages as graffiti maybe,” he writes, “and where I have scratched up in a public place my longings and loves, my grievances and indecencies, be reminded in private of your own. In that way, at least, we can hold a kind of converse.”

It’s been five years of blogging, and I want to say thank you. I want to say that this has healed me. I want to say I’m still here.

Cheers to five years. And to whatever the next five bring.

(And yes, I’ll be eating that cupcake for breakfast. In case you were wondering.)

37 thoughts on “On the 5-Year Anniversary of My Blog

  1. Addie – hearing your “voice from within” has been of inestimable value to me. Thank you for blessing and enriching my heart and spirit.

  2. Re: new tagline. What’s wrong with the one you just gave, “listening to life”? I think beuchner would take it as a compliment.

  3. Cheers indeed! I am so glad I found your voice, as your honest and poignant words have created space for me to be free and explore my own journey. Thank you!

  4. I’ve been blogging for over a decade and much of this feels familiar (except the book deal part). Blogging has frustrated and healed me too, and I could never have imagined the path it’s led me down.

    Grateful for your voice, Addie. I’m glad you’ll still be here. Happy five years. xoxo

  5. Addie, this makes me wonder how long ago I found you? Three years, maybe? No, maybe longer. Anyway, I’m so grateful you’ve kept blogging all this time, because your topics have evolved to match the changes in my own life. I always find your writing to be a little island of grace and peace in the midst of life.

    So very grateful for you, friend.

    xoxo.

    And now I want a cupcake.

    1. Grateful for you too, lady! So thankful for the ways we connected in this space. (And you should totally eat a cupcake.)

  6. I remember going on a writing retreat to a farm in Wisconsin, hearing about how your agent wanted you to start a blog. I was writing my first novel at the time, and you were ten steps ahead of me (still are!), so I started one too. And although my blog and its audience are quite different from yours, mine has also changed my life. Thanks for being my forerunner!! <3

    1. I remember that trip too…and those first moments of panic upon hearing I had to blog! Ha! So glad to have you in this weird writing/blogging space with me friend.

  7. 5 years?! Really?!! We were going through a stage of a church that didn’t fit, and in desperation I Googled How to Find a Church that fits….the rest is history. I think maybe it was they end of your first year that I actually found you. You have made me laugh and cry and say Oh wow, I am not the only one so many times. Your writing is so real and evocative and I am so very, very grateful that Google search led me to your newish blog back then. I treasure you and your words, and look forward to the next however many years you keep sharing your heart and your writing with us.

    1. So, so thankful for you Judy. And I never knew a Google search led you here. Amazing. xo

  8. Addie, all the congratulations on your five year blog anniversary! (We actually started our blogs the same year; my anniversary was in January.) It is always a joy for me to read your words; I’m so grateful for them and for you.

    And I trust that you will come up with a great tagline! A few of your Night Driving lines that came to mind for me …
    “The way out of the darkness has always, for me, started with telling the truth.”
    “The seasons turn, and if we turn with them – and if we’re very lucky – or very careful – we’re constantly turning into truer versions of ourselves.”

    That’s what I see you doing here: telling the truth about your life, and turning into a truer version of you and inspiring others to do the same. <3

  9. I’m so glad you hit “Publish” five years ago today! Your writing always encourages and inspires me – I often feel as though you write what I’m thinking, though you say it much more eloquently than I could. Thank you for sharing from your heart, and congratulations. (And here’s to many more years!)

  10. I love that your blog will head towards listening to your life. I always look forward to your posts in my inbox because I love your authenticity, boldness, and honesty. I’ve read both your books and am excited to see where the Lord takes this blog next 🙂 Congratulations on 5 years!!!!

    1. Thank you so much Natalie for reading and subscribing and for these kind words. I appreciate you!

  11. Congratulations on your 5 years. I’ve only recently discovered this blog. I don’t even remember how I stumbles upon it, but I’m a regular now. Wow! I’ve got a lot of old blogs to catch up one.

  12. Thanks for being there for us all these years! How about “What I Really Mean…” for a tagline?

  13. Congratulations, Addie! Wow, 5 years, that means I’ve been reading your blog for more than half of its life! Time so very well spent. Thank you so much for being in this space; your words have meant the world to me.

  14. Oh, ha! I thought the cupcake was stock art. I’m glad to know it’s real and you got to eat it 🙂 Happy five years!

  15. I am so grateful for your voice and your faithfulness to this space. I stumbled upon your blog pretty early on and I wish there was a way to convey what your words have meant to me over these last 5 years. When we miscarried in march 2013 I found an incredible amount of solace in your words processing your own loss, especially as I tried to make sense of the horrifying fundy/reformed nonsense my family was throwing at me – telling me not to assume our baby was in heaven because God wills whom he wills/that lots of people have these and it’s not that big of a deal, etc. Rotten. And there you were being thoughtful and vulnerable and without easy answers but with some small bit of hope. Thank you. These two sentences are maybe my favorite things you’ve ever written – they so perfectly capture the tension my faith sits in almost all the time:

    “We are, all of us, punched through with holes, living with a little bit more emptiness every year. And it’s possible to be filled with the Spirit and still feel the void.
    It’s true that God is the best kind of Father. And also, the absence of your flesh-and-blood Dad matters. There is the way things should be and the way they are, and between them, there are a hundred thousand hollows, echoing with emptiness.”

    Thank you for When We Were on Fire. You tell the story of so much of my own adolescence and have given me the courage to learn how to process my experiences. My super godly first ever boyfriend told me that God told him to break up with me because I was to quick to forgive him for his porn addiction and that’s not what wise women of God do. So. I feel you. Godly Gaslighting is the fire that warms fundy hearts across america.

    Anyway. My little people are just toddlers and I’m fumbling along on my own faith and writing journey and you are a role model of mine. I admire your courage and vulnerability, your clarity and willingness to lean into the mess, and your knowledge of and grace with yourself along the way. Thank you! Happy five years!

    1. Thanks so much for this note Julianne and for reading. Also, I’m totally going to be using Godly Gaslighting from now own. PERFECT.

  16. “trying to cram our souls into shapes they were never meant to fit.”
    Here’s to breathing deep and letting our souls and selves expand into their natural shapes, and finding the beauty there.
    I have enjoyed traveling with you.

    Life is endless transitions. May the Spirit lead you as you move into this new space.

    (Hope that cupcake was as delicious as it looks!)

    1. Thanks so much Kathy. Love the way you said “breathing deep and letting our souls and selves expand into their natural shapes” Yes.

  17. I’m sitting here now, having just read your latest response to the depression question on Off the Page, having just last week been to my first therapist appt ever for my own depression (not a direct connection that I finally took myself seriously enough to get help, but probably not totally unconnected either). And I’m teary-eyed and grateful and not even sure how to begin to say it. Your journey is of course quite different from mine. But somehow you have made me, and others, feel invited into the journey together–by your faithfulness in telling the story, by your bravery in publicly delving into the mystery and tragedy and beauty of it all. I’ve been reading for maybe three years now, the same three years that have so often found me so TIRED. But even with the depression and the loneliness in finding church and the miscarriages and the questions about what’s next, you’re still here, you’re still going, and somehow that gives me hope on days like today. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for this note Katie. I’m so glad this space has made you feel less alone in some small way. Grace to you in this exhausting journey with depression.

  18. Sorry I’m coming to the party a month late…But I loved this post!
    And I had to tell you CONGRATS and keep doing what you’re doing.
    You are amazing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

^
Back To Top