Thursday, April 18, 2013


“How do you keep going so hard for so long when you can’t even stop to take a breath?,” she asked. I told her this season of life is clearly my [much-needed] boot camp for dying to self, and for coming to hard-core terms that this world will never satisfy. It’s broken. It’s hard. It’s not my Home. Those realities are what keep me hanging on.

But several nights later, the rubber met the road of routine and my soul pounded the pavement in resistance. I just wanted to stop, let my mind soar freely beyond these four walls, and let my soul breathe. But I was called yet again to the same place, at the same time, to do the same thing. And I didn’t want to. There was a temper tantrum raging in my soul, and I wasn’t ready to surrender.

So I stepped out the front door and sat down on the top step, beneath the warm blanket of stars. It was a quiet night. And the only motion in view was the flickering of the street lamp, wavering back and forth just like my soul. What it needed to do, was the very thing it was struggling to do.
And so was I.

And there was that kite. The one stuck in our walnut tree. My son had pointed it out to me from the Dining Room window a few days before. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have ever noticed it.

The breeze that night was enough to border chilly, and enough to entice the kite elsewhere. So I watched that kite. I watched her fight in the darkness against the branch that held her there.
Constantly wrestling to be free.

She’s a kite, afterall. She’s designed to be in motion, to soar high among the roving clouds and endless sky. Not to be stuck stagnant at ground level.
She was clearly out of place. And in essence, useless.

Then I saw what surrounded the kite.

Flower buds.
Quiet whispers of life.
Steady companions anxious to burst declarations of beauty. Declarations of their Creator.
Reminders of His presence.
All in the same place that months ago, held coldness and death.

On top of that, the kite was free to behold the majesty of the night sky.
Because she was stuck.
Had she not been stuck, her nights would have been spent in the sterile darkness of storage. Missing out on the radiance of the moon, and the canvas of constellations.

As she wrestles against the rough branch, He whispers to her in the wind. So she does something different this time. She leans into the branch. And she begins to see things she's never noticed before. 
She sees a young Daddy swing his little girl around and land her on his shoulders.

She breathes the crisp night air, watching the sky expectantly for shooting stars like a child on Christmas Eve. 

The other day, she watched as a family, 15-year neighbors to the walnut tree, packed up their memories to make new ones in a new home. 

And she's witnessing the sacred courage of a husband and wife as they battle their way through the dark alleys of a cruel disease.
Despite her struggle to break free, she’s beginning to see beauty blossom around more corners than ever before. Even while wrestling lonely in cold, dark nights.
As I write, she remains stuck in my walnut tree.
But maybe she’s not so out of place, after all.

Because apparently, this isn't about the chance to fly again.
This season in the walnut tree IS about the kite breaking free. But it's about her breaking free from something greater. Something that holds her back far more than the heaviest of branches ever could.
It's about discovering strange new sources of joy. And peace.
And surprisingly – freedom.

In fact, it's about redefining freedom.

Finding a freedom she's never known before. Freedom from herself.
One that soars wild and uninhibited, closer to the Heartbeat of Heaven than even the open skies.
One that finds glimpses of His glory in the small, but sacred, plot of land where He's placed her.

A thrilling liberation to embrace that her worth goes far beyond what she can and cannot DO.

She's finding these freedoms.
In the stuck.

She's beginning to see that we glorify God not just by doing big things, out there, for all to see. But by doing the little things.
Right here.
With nobody watching but Him.
Because He's enough.

She's beginning to trust that the significance of her days isn't defined by her scope or reach.
And that her value isn't secured by grand scenery or a seemingly extraordinary calling.

Because when God's in it, it's all extraordinary.

She's discovering this grand paradox. This freedom in the stuck. This beauty in the tangled mess. Soul rest in the assurance that no matter how useless she feels, or even looks, in her stuck state, she can still partake in the goodness and glory of God.

~ ~ ~

What circumstance has been beyond your control and left you feeling stuck?

My experience on the branch has been an isolating one. How would you describe your experience?

Have you ever considered ways the branch might be a friend in disguise, rather than an all-out enemy?

And I constantly misplace my identity in what I do (or think I should be doing), rather than in Who He is, do you?

Share your thoughts, & share the post!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The One Thing Your Blog Strategy (and your soul) Can’t Do Without

Create titles that hook ‘em, they say.
And they’re right.

Present your content with visual cues to keep them reading, they say.
Yep, I’m a believer!

Find your voice.
I agree. It makes all the difference.

Close with a call to action to invoke a response from the reader.
Marketing 101.

And above all, write, write, and write some more.
Mhmm, Writing 101.

No doubt about it, I have a huge passion for strategic communication. My background is in marketing, so I champion all the above principles. But there’s an ingredient that’s imperative to any blog strategy that I have yet to see in any “top tips for bloggers” articles.
And it trumps them all.

Some of you may have a good rhythm with your blog and don’t tend to second-guess your writing, your strategy, or yourself in the process. But I’m guessing for the majority of you, that’s not the case. Especially after reading posts from blogger friends like this one and this one.

So let me put my arm around your shoulder and be your voice of encouragement today.

This, friend, is what I want you to hear:

It’s okay if you’re titles don’t stop the entire world in its tracks.

And it’s okay if you’re struggling to find your voice.

Yes, it’s even okay if you don’t close with the all-imperative CTA.

It’s okay if you’re inconsistent,
don’t come up with the next big thing,
and don’t write nearly as often as you’d like to.

It’s o-kay.

So why, you ask, is a writer who has a huge passion for marketing communications offering you the freedom to break all the strategic rules she tenaciously champions?
Because I have a greater passion for Grace.

Grace is what trumps all I know about marketing. It’s the glorious freedom that tenderly beckons me to set aside strategy and break the rules. Regularly.
Because I want to know Him more than I want to know success.

But Tanya, you ask, won’t that make my blog ineffective, stagnant, and stale?
Oh, dear friend. Trying to constantly configure the perfect equation for the perfect blog will make your soul ineffective, stagnant, and stale.

That’s far too high a price to pay.

And please don’t mistake me for saying that a highly-visible blog is a bad thing, or that it's equated with a lack of intimacy with God, or that we should suppress our God-given dreams. Not at all.

I want to make an impact on our world as much as you do. And that’s a good thing. What I AM suggesting is that we don't let that desire to make Him known trump our desire to know Him.
Or else we’ll begin to mistake our impact for our identity.

I don’t know about you, but I wrestle with that. A lot. I’ve had a post about my struggle with that percolating for seven months, but for now I’ll leave it to Oswald Chambers to sum up:

“Beware of getting ahead of God by your very longing to do His will.
We run ahead of Him . . .
becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don't worship

Beware of getting ahead of God by your very longing to do His will, dear blogger . . .

When you can’t find that snappy title that readers will find irresistible,
remember God’s power is made perfect not in competence,

but in weakness.

When you can’t find your voice,
trust His to speak through you.

When you’re banging your head up against a wall to come up with an engaging call to action (not that I’d know . . .ahem),
trust His Spirit to invoke a response in the reader’s soul in ways you or I never could.

And when the only feedback you receive is the sound of crickets chirping instead of comments affirming,
remember Who you’re writing for.
[And that it's also okay to break rules of grammar.] 

Strategic marketing and communications isn’t the end all be all for our blogs, dear blogger.
Your relationship with the One who authors your life story IS.

That relationship with Him is more important than your ministry for Him.
So don’t sacrifice intimacy with Him for the sake of traffic and stats.

Impact is valuable.
But it doesn’t determine your value.

And so, my fellow blogger, fellow life sojourner. Whether your blog strategy is written in a file or simply in your mind, THIS is what He longs for you to engrave in it:


For the imperfect blogger.

~ ~ ~
And now I want to hear from you!

How have you perceived success for your blog?

Do you struggle to embrace grace when you see other bloggers excel?

Do you ever let your personal value get too wrapped up in your blog?

Have you mistaken your impact for your identity?

And why not encourage your favorite bloggers today with this post?

Every blogger struggles with discouragement, at times. And not just us small-scale bloggers. So why not reach out to your favorite bloggers by sending this to them! Tell them how much you appreciate their pouring their heart out on the screen. And remind them of the freedom they have to be imperfect.

Let's cheer one another on toward grace-based blogging!

P.S. My little story of grace in this imperfect post . . .

Out of all the strategic communication tactics I shared, the one I struggle with most is closing my pieces with engaging questions. So several posts ago, I quit banging my head against the wall and decided to be okay without them.  A big part of my blog’s purpose is to be a source of joy for me, not pressure, and my laboring over that tactic was defeating that purpose.

Well, you know the rest of the story, right? As I was finishing up this piece, God brought the above questions to mind. Not just one, several! It was so foreign to have them simply come to mind without laboring over them for days on end that I have to shake my head in wonder and smile. It’s so like Him.

So! M
aking a cameo appearance here on Truth in Weakness, closing questions! Enjoy them while I have them, folks – Engage away!

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