Monday, January 6, 2014

What I Learned at the Zoo and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
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At the Cameron Park Zoo on Saturday, December 28th, I realized in a powerful way why I do what I do:

I blog because I love.

Because I love God.  Because I love people.  Specifically, you people.

That Saturday in December, I told my family we were driving an hour and a half north to Waco to meet another family none of us have ever met.  My conversation with Craig went a bit like this:  "The woman (the lovely Kristin Taylor) is my blog friend who lives in Kentucky and she's visiting her sister in Dallas.  So of course, we must seize the opportunity to take our friendship to the IRL level!  And she has 2 kids and a husband, so it will be great!"

(Bless my husband for just going with it and because it's his birthday today.)

Long story short, our husbands hit it off.  Our kids hit it off.  And lo and behold, Kristin and I hit it off.  And I found out so much about her in 3 hour parade of fighting tigers, bucket-playing orangutangs, really loud gibbons (the kids tried to give them a run for their money, though), and a plethora of food at the Collins Street Bakery.  It was incredibly fun, unawkward, and real.  And this introverted, non-risk-taking girl did it all for love.  A love born from countless blog posts, prayer requests, heartbreaks, rejections, joys, and miracles.  A love that taught me people are so much more than just a Facebook "like," a comment, a page view.

And why is this such a powerful revelation?  Because it's the ticket to freedom.  It's the ticket I can clutch in my hand that let's me get off the SEO and Stat train and board the "I-Don't-Care-About-Those-But-I-Do-Care-About-You" train for good*.  My world won't be rocked when Facebook changes how they do or don't promote posts.  I don't have to feel sad if someone unsubscribes to my blog or if less people link up.  I can deal with the fact that I almost never use Twitter because I just can't seem to get to it.  And on and on and on (because let's face it -- social media's ways of telling how you do or don't measure up are endless).

For the first time since I entered into blog and speaking world, I feel like I'm out of the shifting sand of worldly approval and stepping on to the foundation of love.  God uses the blog world and Facebook and Twitter simply as tools to let love bloom.

Does that sound cheesy? I don't know.  Probably.  But the feeling isn't cheesy.  I love the fact that I can do this all for relationships and love instead of numbers or scales or money.  

This morning I was flipping through my journal and came across this entry from August 6, 2013:
"Sometimes I think I work toward goals automatically -- goals I don't think are truly valid.  I have these goals because everyone else seems to have these goals.  So, God, do I need to be concerned about numbers?  About shares, reach, comments, Bible study attendance, etc.?
Revelation:  Numbers and stats -- I use them to bring me comfort.  They tell me if I am okay.  Oh, what incredible power I have given to them.
It's my job to love the people God brings into my life, whether that's my blog friend, my IRL friend, the homeless guy on the corner, or my next door neighbor.  When I let a number supersede the importance of the relationship or when I let them tell me whether or not I'm doing a good job, I have lost the point.  I have ceased to be guided by love, which means I have ceased to be guided by God.

Soli Deo Gloria means "To God alone be the glory."  And so I fall on my knees in thankfulness for the community of love that He has built here, whether it consists of two or two million.  Because He is the Creator.  He is the giver of words, of creativity, of the breath in this space.

Let us go out, sisters, and love well.  Immeasurably well.

*Your train may not be the SEO or Stat Train, but maybe the Scale Train, the Checklist Train, the Grade trade, etc.  Wherever you see numbers as having an impact on how you feel about yourself, perhaps that's the train God wants you to examine.

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Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? 
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Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!
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20 comments :

  1. "I have these goals because everyone has these goals . . . " Yes, ma'am. I know what you mean. I've taken quite a bit of time off from my blog, in part, to figure out what it's purpose is (and, in part, because I got a bit lazy)

    "Let all that you do be done in love," wrote the Apostle to the Corinthians. Sounds as though you're starting the new year well. Hugs.

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  2. I'm teary. Thanks for loving me well. When can we get together again? (And my whole family means that!) Love you!

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  3. Thanks for loving us, Jen. We love you too!

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  4. Thank you for genuinely blogging for love. Measuring success by social media and stat standards drives me bonkers, but there are real women I've met along the way, such as yourself, that have blessed and challenged me just enough to keep on going. Thank you for that, and I love you too!

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  5. Thanks for loving me well!! And by the way I just love Kristin, and I love you, so I'm imagining that was quite the amazing three hours together. These were words I needed to hear as there are times I think I'm supposed to care about the numbers and honestly...I really don't. I care about how God is using what I share. And the friendships made... Oh my goodness... they mean so much more than any number. Beautiful, beautiful post!
    Much love,
    Beth

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    1. I adore you, Beth! So thankful blogging communities allowed us to become friends too.

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  6. Oh, Jen, that quote from I John...powerful. Someone right here where I live (my brother, actually) FINALLY asked me about my blogging/writing. While I was blessed by his praise and encouragement, the bottom line for me when I was explaining it to him is the connections and relationships it has afforded me. Although most of them are hundreds of miles away, because of prayer requests and shared hurts and hearts, honest posts and more than a few phone calls, I feel as close to them as my own family. The 'round table' you have set here at SDG has been a big part of that.
    Here's to real goals and real life with a real God.

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  7. Oh Jen, the narrow tunnel of social media somethings...It's so nice to see you rising above the stats and "likes" and rating...and just plain, loving people! I find it so hard balancing it all (face-to-face friends, family, and blogging) sometimes. But yes, it really is just pretty simple...it's all about loving people! Have a blessed New Year friend!

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  8. Oh, I love this! It's so wonderful when we as bloggers can get to the point where we don't do it for the affirmation because we do it for an audience of One. Thank you for your words. They blessed me.

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  9. I have loved each time I have had the chance to meet a blog friend.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  10. What a beautiful post & meeting! I have been blessed with online friendships that began with Beth Moore's 1st online Bible Study, Believing God. My husband also took me to Monroe, LA. (we live in Boston) & Buffalo, NY to meet two of the women face to face. We have written, talked on the phone, sent emails, prayed, cried & laughed our way now through getting our children through school, marriages, grandchildren & passing away of family. You are so right, Jen, NO number or statistic can ever replace the love & joy of knowing these friends. May God continue to grow His people in community! I just love this post!

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  11. ohh what an awesome risk you took! and real life is so much better than screens and numbers ;)

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  12. So happy you took the risk and that everyone hit it off so well....and yes, love can't be determined by the numbers...it seems to be what God is reminding me of today...Happy New Year, Jen :)

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  13. Oh, you two and your families together! I love how God gathers us up, bringing together His children! He must have been smiling watching you all. And I am grateful for your words about trusting His love, seeking His heart in the things He has given us to do. I pray I honor Him in serving Him and not the approval of the world. (An idol I have laid down more than once, I'm afraid.) Love to you, Jen.

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  14. Being the extrovert that I am I love meeting new people weather in real life or in virtual land. I consider everyone that I have a relationship with a true friend. I can't wait to meet more of my virtual friends so that I can hug and overwhelm them. That's just the way I am. :)

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  15. Oh, I love this. I'm so glad I got to meet you in the spring of 2012 when I was in Austin. Those real life meet-ups are what blogging is all about, and I thank you for bringing so many of us together. Happy New Year!

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  16. I turned this phrase into a question for me: have "I let a number supersede relationship?". Really have I let anything supersede relationship? People are eternal and they matter. Thanks for the community that you create and host here. I really enjoy it.

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  17. Hi Jennifer,

    I just wanted to say that so many love you, you can tell by the community here; I am one of them. That isn't from numbers that is connections with a similar heart, part of the amazing body of Christ :) Praise God we aren't of the world, but of Christ - it's exciting.

    God bless

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  18. Dear Jen, Your love shows through your blog and your paintings. Thanks for the beautiful post & for hosting & God bless!

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  19. Beautiful! To God alone be the glory! Be blessed! Love like there's no tomorrow and delight in every minute! Thank you for this community.
    Mary

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