Community

Building Community

Study of blue and yellow(Photo Credit.  Used with permission.)

When I first began blogging nearly two years ago, my desire was to have a place where I could document my life in God.  I began my blog as an on line journal, never thinking anyone would care to read what I wrote.  And back then, I didn’t really have a desire to follow other blogs.  I mean, why would I follow a blog of someone I didn’t know? It made me feel like a stalker.  But once I got into blogging, I discovered an entire community of like-minded people who were all documenting their life in God.  They brought God into every aspect of their blog.  And I followed them.  Moms, single women, pastor’s wives, teens.  Most had something to say that I could in some way relate to.  There were others I didn’t have anything in common with, but I still followed.  There was just something about their blog that I liked.  Or maybe it was the weekly meme or blog hop that brought me.

And what newbie blogger doesn’t want followers? Back then, I oftened wondered who, if anyone, read my blog.  Where did they live? Did they have children? Did we have anything in common?  Why on earth would they follow my little ole blog?  When people did begin to follow my blog, it was a good feeling knowing that what I was writing about was being read.  I have to admit that I used to purposely click “next blog” in Blogger, and visit the blog rolls of every blog I followed just to find new blogs to read.  I would join every “blog hop” and weekly meme that I could.  Silly? Maybe.  But through all of that, I found some of the most amazing women who have not only welcomed me into their blogging community, but who have lifted me up in prayer and encouraged me during the hard seasons of my life.

I love community and connecting with other women.  I have been told I have a “pastor’s heart”.  I genuinely care about people.  It grieves my heart when someone is hurting and I am filled with joy in sharing their victories.  When I visit a blogger who is asking for prayer, I really do, most of the time, stop right then and there and pray. I am not perfect and I’ve missed it on occasion.  But my heart is always stirred and I really do try to lift every request to the Father on your behalf.

But I was shocked last night when I looked at my Google Reader and saw that I had 592 unread items.  Some of you are saying, “WOW, no wonder you burn the midnight oil”.  And others might be saying, “is that all?”.  But I was completely overwhelmed.  God has been whispering to me about the need to simplify many areas of my life, blogging being one of them.  This is not the first time I’ve been convicted by the fact that there are so many blogs in my Reader, that trying to keep up with them might actually be taking time away from not only my blog’s original purpose, but my family, and God.  So last night, I began the painstaking task of “purging” my Google Reader.  I am still going through the process. And it is difficult.

I want to build community.  But it’s hard to do that when I am frantically trying to read blogs and comment and reply to comments.  So it’s important that I lighten my load so that I can write and encourage you the way that God has called me to.  I promise to do my best to reply to every comment left here.  And I promise to “visit” all of the new blogs represented.  It may take some time, but I will get there.  YOU are important to me!  And, if my blog blesses and encourages you, I invite you to follow me along on this journey.  But please, do not feel pressured.  I never thought I would have so many people following my journey in life.  I am humbled.

This was quite a different post for me.  A “chat with the girls” really.  But I wanted to let you all know what I’ve been struggling with.  How about you.  Are you struggling with keeping up with blogging? I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord what He would ask you to do.  I believe He’s given us enough time in our day to blog and build community.  We just need to use wisdom while doing so.

48 thoughts on “Building Community”

  1. Katy says:

     proud of you. it’s a hard step to purge the google reader, but really it does simplify and take off the “pressure” and helps focus your time and energy. i try to do it periodically just to make sure i’m not overloaded. though it definitely is hard for me to hit delete!

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thanks Katy!  If it were up to me, I would follow as many blogs as I could, but then my head would spin and I would fall asleep while reading blogs late at night, which is what I was doing.  It’s such a hard thing, but so need, and God will bless us for it!

  2. Susi says:

    Hello Barbie, I just recently found your blog.  I don’t usually like reading Christian blogs, even if I’m a Christian, because they all are so much like “teaching” blogs, and I like reading simple thoughts from ordinary people… but I like yours, it’s different, your writing seems humble and honest. I, like you, love the social part of blogging, connecting with other people.

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thank you Susi.  I try to keep it real here.  I browsed around your site.  You have some fabulous instruments.  I would love to learn to play any one of those.  And not that you are looking to following any blogs, especially since my last post, but I moved to Word Press and was able to keep Google Friend Connect.  But I think the way you keep up with those you desire to follow is working for you.  Hope to visit again soon!  Blessings!

      1. Susi says:

        Yeah, I’ve seen that on other blogs to, some Google friend connect widget for WordPress. I don’t have any need to use it though, I’m happy with visiting people’s sites to find new updates. For me, reading (and commenting) is to follow someone’s blog, regardless of button clicks. Thanks for your nice compliments on my instruments. I love them too:)

  3. Mandy says:

     Hahaha, laughing as I read this because I’ve been in much the same place… I go back and forth with letting blogging become a ‘job’ of sorts, and it’s easy to start following to gain followers, doing memes for the wrong reasons, and basically just to let it become an idol in my life. I took several months off at the beginning of the year, and it was a wonderful time of refocusing for me. I’ve changed the direction of my blog because it had become something other than what I believe God intended. And now that the pressure’s off, I find myself having more to say, even if most of it doesn’t make it into a post… does that make sense?

    All that rambling being said, I love your space here and feel that your careful words are said out of true love and caring and a shepherd’s heart. You are gifted and such a blessing to me!

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thanks Mandy!  I could imagine how your time away from blogging served to refresh and rejuvinate you and your purpose for blogging.  I did miss you while you were gone!  Thank you for your encouragement!

  4. Child of God says:

    Hi Barbie,
    I know how you feel and I don’t follow that many blogs! At this point in my life I am near the computer a lot, because of the home schooling (I don’t trust my son on the computer he becomes easily distracted). So I am able to read and read and read. 🙂 But one day when he goes off to university the computer will not be a big part of my life then I guess I will be in the position you are in.

    God needs to be first in our lives always and we need to keep the focus.

    Blessings,
    <

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

       So true!  I never want to lose sight of what’s really important.

  5. Barbie Swihart says:

    Just popped over to read our post. My husband thinks I am having an affair with blogging!  They are so wise in helping us to re-prioritize our lives.

  6. Courtney K. says:

     It’s so, so hard to pick and choose which blogs to continue reading, and which ones to purge yourself from. I have a hard time “deleting” blogs from my reader too. I think as long as you continue to write the way that you write, you can still build a community here within the comment section of your blog. Taking the time to acknowledge those who DO read your blog, means more than anything. 🙂 Good luck with your cleaning out process. 

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      I absolutely agree.  I know many of the bloggers are in the same place as me.  So I think visiting and commenting on blogs is even more important!

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thanks Jeanine!  I wouldn’t want to  lose you!

  7. Lea says:

    Good post Barbie! I think moderation is key to all things in our life and I try hard to remember that with my blogging.  I do what I can do in the time I have allotted myself and let the rest go.  Like you, I’ve made some of the most wonderful connections through blogging.  Blessings for a wonderful weekend!

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      I am learning that it is okay to let some things go!  I appreciate your friendship through blogging!

  8. Modern Domestication says:

    Timely, I was  at MOPS today and it was much about community. I don’t always have time to blog with blog friends but either way I make sure to have a sense of community. Lots of true followers is a sign the message and journey you are sharing is authentic. Marked by our Maker I know it’s a real blessing to many.
    PS if you never leave another comment ~ we’re good. I don’t live for comments so never feel pressured.
    Have a grand weekend!

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

       Thanks!  I don’t plan on going anywhere!

  9. McKenzie Wessling says:

    I know what you’re talking about–my Google Reader is a ridiculous mess, and it’s incredibly hard to keep up with reading blogs and writing one and still be grounded in the real world. I think it’s helpful to focus the blogs you follow–picking either a category (mom blogs, 20 something blogs, etc.) to follow, or choosing just one or two of your favorites from several categories. It helps keep your Reader count lower, but still keeps you rooted in the online community to a degree.

  10. Joye says:

     I’ve been in this same boat so many times 🙂  I love the friendships and the community and I start feeling guilty if I don’t have time to read and reply to as many bloggers as I want to!  But God is showing me that I have to give myself grace and make sure I have my priorities all taken care of before I get lost in the world of blogging 🙂

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Priority is key!  I am thankful to have found you in this blogging world.

  11. Joan says:

    Hi Barbie:

    Your post hits close to home as I am realizing how much time I take to read and answer blog comments. I always try to return a visit when someone leaves a comment on my blog, and then there are those blogs that I always enjoy reading. (Your’s being one of them.) I don’t always leave a comment, but I read.

    While I want to be known as a “friendly” blogger, I realize that as readership grows it is impossible to visit everyone. And more importantly, I must never let my blogging time interfere with my time with God.
    I blog because I feel that it is something He has called me to do, and so I must obey. As Charles Stanley says, “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”
    Bless you, dear sister and know that I read – even though I don’t always acknowledge.

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thank you Joan!  Love the quote by Charles Stanley.  So very true!

  12. The Frazzled Mom says:

     Barbie – I just found your blog.  Like you, my blog is about God and family and the everyday miracles that occur in my life.  Some posts are devotions and others are humorous reflections of the chaos of raising 3 beautiful, busy teenagers.  I know you’re trying to simplify, but I know you’ll like my blog.  I think it’ll make you laugh and cry and the same time.  I will definitely be a follower of yours.  God bless.  5minutesforthefrazledmom.blogspot.com    

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Hello and thanks for visiting.  I tried to click on the link here, but it says that your blog is not found.  Feel free to send me a link to your blog so that I can visit you.

  13. Dionna says:

     It was nice to have you stop by my blog again. I’ve missed you! 🙂 I left you a reply in response to your comment. 🙂 Hugs…

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thanks Dionna!  I hope to be able to stop by more often!

  14. The Frazzled Mom says:

     Barbie – Thanks for responding.  Hope you can get to my blog from the link.  I’ll try again – 
    5minutesforthefrazzledmom.blogspot.com  I guess if the link doesn’t work, you can copy and paste into your browser, but a lot of trouble! 

  15. teresa says:

    I am constantly trying to keep up….but I want to read them all…so I just do the best I can
    I always love my stops here…

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Thank you Teresa!  I have learned there will always be new blogs to read.  Hope you’re having a great weekend.

  16. Cyndispivey says:

     Barbie I struggle all the time!! I don’t like the weeks I blog but I’m not able to visit. I just can’t always keep up 🙁 Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings,
    Cyndi

  17. Anonymous says:

    You have been such a huge encouragement to me over the past few weeks… I wanted to thank you for that and for your genuine heart in this post.  Life is too short, but community is also important… balance is key 🙂
    -H

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Oh Heather, you have been on my heart.  I have never experienced such loss but I know that our Daddy God is faithful. He will hold you, catch your tears when they fall.  May you find rest, peace and strength in his arms of grace.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by here.

  18. Heather Aynne says:

     I have some blogs I read daily but most of them I read as I have time and I REFUSE to feel guilty if I can’t get to them. Every night before bed, I mark everything as read and move on.  That was a tip I got from someone when I started my blog. It can become overwhelming to keep up with everyone and it begins to feel like shackles tying me to the computer.  I’m just trying to recover from burn out right now, on both blogging and reading.

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Amen!  That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing as well.  Thank you for stopping by!

  19. Wanda says:

     Hi Barbie, can relate to this in many ways. I too couldn’t believe any one would have any interest in reading my ramblings. And I fell into a period of blog obsession but God is teaching me how to find the balance in blogging. 

  20. Cherie says:

    You were on my mind yesterday, and then you show up and leave a sweet comment! Thanks friend.  It seems we are struggling with the same thing here.   Blessings!

    1. Barbie Swihart says:

      Hello my friend.  Yes, I think many of us are learning how to juggle.  So glad you stopped by.  

  21. Alene Snodgrass says:

    You might have written this 7 months ago, but today it strikes a chord with me and I’m bawling. Yes, yes, yes. I struggle. I haven’t found the right balance of writing, reading, building community and it all seems so overwhelming. Your sentence “I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord what He would ask you to do” grabbed my heart. That’s just what I’m going to do tomorrow. Devote the day for clarity.

    http://positivelyalene.blogspot.com

    1. Barbie says:

      I picked this one for my recap post because God is continually speaking to me about how I can better manage my time better.  I have to realize I just can’t get around to everyone all of the time.  I have to let some go so that I can focus on His purpose in writing.  May He bring you clarity in your blogging and how to manage our time as you write for His glory!

  22. Debbie says:

    Barbie, I can so identify with this!  I end up following so many blogs because I enjoy them but I’m afraid I’ll lose them.  But then I find I don’t have enough time to read them all and I feel bad.  I too want to build community.  I’ve made so many wonderful friends through blogging.  Many of the women I hope to meet in person one day.  I’m so glad I got to meet you in person and do look forward to another visit this next year.  We’ll make sure to meet up for sure!!!!!

    1. Barbie says:

      It’s never ending, isn’t it?  We just need that healthy balance.

  23. Charina says:

    Barbie, what a beautiful post. To be honest, I feel the same way when I started my own little space a year ago. I just want a space where I can write down my thoughts and thank Him for all the blessings, big and small that He is giving our family. And yes it is so humbling to hear from other bloggers and uplifting to share in on everyone’s thoughts and experiences.

    1. Barbie says:

      Thank you for stopping by Charina!

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