Forty years ago, I stood next to my grandfather under a familiar white tile counter. The smell of onions and hamburger permeated my senses. I could almost feel the steamy bun between my fingers; taste the White Castle square before I pulled it from the miniature box bearing the blue pen drawing of the famous restaurant.
A year ago today, I pressed publish on this blog for the first time.
I crawled into a virtual canoe waiting beside the shore and took the paddle in my hands. I had no idea where I was going and could barely see above the water line. He told me not to worry; His voice would lead me to the destination.
Sometimes we know what life tastes like before we put the bite into our mouth. The writing life is often like paddling in the dark without a map, we just hope we’ll hit land before the mosquitos of self-doubt eat us alive.
For four years, I received a paycheck every two weeks for the articles I wrote, never certain about calling myself a writer. Until I tasted the words of strangers standing at my door holding the other paddle, dripping sweet on my welcome mat imprinted Redemptions Beauty.
And as I listened to my pastor explain the way God spoke to Ezekiel (Chapter 1) in a crazy vision using simile and metaphor yesterday; I saw how God used all the same messages for me over the past year as a blogger.
- The unexplainable disappointments in life are an opportunity to sit in a place of transformational exile. Because it’s in the places of brokenness, God changes me for purpose. The same way he changed a priest into a prophet in the person of Ezekiel.
- The act of writing is a lonely seat for this extrovert. But When I’m alone, God sees me. He never takes His eye off the one He gives life.
- Swept up in the eloquent words of others and their columns of accolades, I forget where I’m going and lose my way. And in those moments, He takes my paddle, digs deep into the waters of my soul, the truth leading me back on course. When I’m lost, God leads me.
- Days of doubt come in the awareness of my small place in the crowded room of words shouting from the world. In my weakness, He strengthens me.
- And on those days of grief, looking back and wishing I’d done it all differently, he reminds me of the promise in the rainbow. When I fail God, he forgives me.
Today, as I write post #235, those 6,225 comments in a span of a year allow me to see above the water line. I’m grateful for you, standing among the crowd gathered on the shore of welcome.
Yesterday, I sat at the dinner table and watched my family open a box of chocolate cookies. When H put one in his mouth, he said it tasted like Sunday School. Sometimes we know what life tastes like before we take a bite and those moments give us courage to keep paddling the uncharted waters.
I hope you’ll climb in the boat with me for the next leg of the journey, there’s always an open seat.
Continuing to count gifts with Ann:
- Celebrating a one year blogoversary.
- For every single one of you who chose to follow Redemptions Beauty and join the journey.
- For the encouragement of friends and family over the past year, helping me to breathe when self-doubt suffocates.
- New blogging friends that help to navigate the unknowns.
- Prose that inspires me to be better.
- The faithfulness of God, the way He assures me along the way through dreams and visions and answered prayers.
- For my grandparents, their belief in me before I believed in myself.
Linking with Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, Playdates with God, Soli Deo Gloria, Just Write, Into the Beautiful.
Oh, friend. I’m so blessed to be on this journey with you.
I’d have you in my boat any day Sandy. Can’t wait to hug you in person.
Happy Blogoversary, Shelly! I just celebrated my one year blog birthday on August 1st… Crazy how time flies when you are writing about Jesus, huh? Keep up the great work– I love reading your posts– they bless me!
Congratulations Sharita, on your blogoversary too. It does go by so fast when your writing, I agree. Thanks for being here, love connecting with you. I think about you running now, everytime I see your gravatar.
Happy Blogoversery, Shelly! I’m so grateful the Lord gifted you as a writer.
Thanks Kristin, so happy to know you and excited to hug your neck next month.
Happy 1 year Anniversary for your blog which has touched me in so many ways. I have shared it on numerous occasions with friends and co-workers.
I’m so grateful for your support and encouragement Debbie. It means so much to me. Thank you.
I was happy to climb in your “boat.” And thankful for the open seat. A writer you are and a writer you will always be…. I had no idea I got on board early in the journey but what a blessing it has been!
I think we’re a good rowing team Dea. So grateful for your partnership in this wild journey.
Beautiful reflections… All I can say is God is using you more than you know, Shelly. And I’m thinking the more of those self doubt arrows we feel, the more we must be doing something right or that old devil wouldn’t be bothering with trying to shoot us down. Happy anniversary! Keep writing… sowing jewels… for I know He has great plans and a future and a hope for you and your poetic words. 🙂
I know He has used you as an encourager in my life Pam. So thankful for you and I went to that website, she’s lovely. I can’t stop writing, its part of who I am now and thankful for the path He’s leading me to walk.
I feel the same about the writing He’s leading me to… and doors He seems to be leading to…And I’m glad to know I’ve encouraged you as you have me! Yes, she is another lovely one.
I just went from your blog to another at http://www.clairesteaparty.com and found this quote: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 So interesting, coming from someone like Shakespeare. Claire just wrote a beautiful post on this theme (What If You Get It Right?), and I thought how you would love it too… 🙂 Her heart for prose shines too.
I’ve come from Facebook, following Sandra King, and am pleased to discover your blog. Your comment, “The act of writing is a lonely seat for this extrovert,” surprised me. I’m an introvert and when I first began blogging it was a struggle to “go public” with my words. I liked the aloneness of writing, but it never occurred to me that less introverted writers would find it difficult. I’m glad you decided to persevere. Happy blogaversary.
Oh, how I love that Sandra. Thanks for stopping by Carol. And yes, most writers seem to share the commonality of being introverts. I feel like an oddball in the crowd but I’m learning to be comfortable where God has me, even if it does take me out of my skin a bit.
It is scary to blog, and you wonder if your words or pictures are just sitting in cyberspace somewhere. I am there too, with my blog, just remember we write for an audience of one. (as Ann Voskamp says) after that if others read then we are blessed. take care, I like your blog. Keep writing and blessing and you will do well.
Oh yes, an audience of one. It has to be that for me, or its all rubbish anyway. Love Ann’s words of wisdom, they have carried me here on many days of writing.
Thank you Shelly for blessing my life over this year. May the Lord continue to speak to you and through in this next year.
So thankful for you Robin, and the way He brought us together. I’m sure your husband will take some credit for that. 🙂
I’m grateful for how blogging has opened up the world to me (an introvert who also gets lonely in this calling), to enlarge the body of Christ I get to walk (and canoe) with – sisters, like you, Shelly. May the Lord continue to bless the work of your heart and hands in the days and weeks to come. Love, Patricia
I feel the same way Patricia. There are things I can’t write about on my blog but I’ll sum them up by saying the blogging community has saved my life this past year.
Happy Anniversary Shelly! Happy Birthday Blog! … as we say in China, happy to you every day!
Aw thanks Amy. So grateful for your blessing today all the way from China. Good to hear from you friend.
Congrats on one year!!!…i must say…your writing is much more mature and skilled than one year…I pray God continues to lead you by still waters…His gentle whispers will guide you with peace…and you will not strive because of how much He love you. blessings and cheers to you my friend~
You’re so kind Ro. I’ve actually been writing on a regular basis for all kinds of publications for five years now, just blogging for one. I’m thankful that I can do it. That my husband supports me and encourages me, even when the paycheck I bring in is tiny.
Sweet Shelly, I can’t believe you have only been blogging for *only* a year, because you do it so poetically and prolifically, but moreover, do *profoundly*. You have launched your little writing boat into deep waters. It seems to me that you have followed Jesus’ admonition to Peter in Luke 5 to “put out” your boat into deep waters…..deep waters that you might consider to be doubt, blindness, the wonderful words of other rowers, and of not knowing exactly where your writing destination Ultimately is. You have invited others into your boat, and we’re so honored, because we love what you write. But there is another passenger in your vessel, whose name begins with a J, and it is He who promises you that as you let down your net of words, He will fill them with a catch so large that those nets will break. You are catching souls for Jesus, Shelly, with every stroke on your keyboard. Congratulations for being obedient to get into your boat and launch into the deep. I can’t wait to see to what waters God is taking you! Love, Lynn
Blogging for one year, writing for five altogether. But really, I think its somewhat of miracle that I ever started writing at all. I have to give credit to my boss that hired me on gut instinct to write for four years. I had no previous experience, had never written a feature article in my life and I jumped in the water without a life preserver. So grateful that God used her to lead me to a calling I wasn’t even aware of. So thankful for all your love and support Lynn. You’re a gem.
Beautifully worded Lynn. Shelly is having an ABUNDANT ‘catch’ in her net! Myself among them. I’m hooked. And I’m fed every day by Shelly’s beautifully-poetic writings.
I totally agree, Jillie! I feel honored to have been the one to tell you about Shelly’s exquisite posts! 🙂
Shelly, I wonder if you would consider re-posting your very first blog post of one year ago today? I know you have new readers like me who might really enjoy reading about your initial launch into the waters of blogdom. I’d love to read it if you can fish it from the waters!
Lynn, if you go to my archives on the right hand column and look under August 2011, you’ll find it there. I read it several times before I wrote this actually. Thanks for being interested.
Happy blogoversary, Shelly! Your thoughts, your words, bless.
thanks Heather. Was thinking about you yesterday and just dumbfounded that we lived in the same neighborhood and never knew each other. I sort feel like I was cheated out of a gift.
Shucks, I feel the same way.
Happy Anniversary, my friend! The online community is better with you in it.
I can’t thank you enough for the way you supported me through social media during those early months. You really live into the name of your blog Stefanie. I’m so thankful for you.
It has been and remains my honor to read, share and encourage you. God has gifted you greatly and uses your words to minister to so many, me included.
Congratulations on this milestone! I am so glad you hit “publish” for you have been an encouragement to me in this journey. Blessings to you!
So thankful to know you Christina and follow your writing journey. You’ve been a real blessing in my life.
Dearest Shelly…THANK YOU for the “open seat”! I am so INCREDIBLY blessed to set myself “in your boat for the next leg of the journey”!!! I am fairly new to your posts, but I never miss a day! You stimulate my thinking, and definetly draw me closer to The One!
Happy Blogoversary!!! Keep writing.
This makes me smile Jillie. So thankful the Lord brought you here. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.
beautiful writing…everyone who reads your blog posts are blessed…thank you for taking that courage and running with it…
Thanks Beth, I appreciate that.
I’ve enjoyed the ride, Shelly. Your words always seem to calm my waters…
Congrats to you on one year. I’ll be here reading faithfully for the next one, friend!
So thankful for you Nikki, what a gift you are to me.
“Because its in a places of brokenness that he changes me for a purpose.” I love that! I’ll canoe with you on any leg of your journey, Shelly. Because aren’t all trying to navigate the same river?
Yes, we are. We’re headed to different tributaries with the same living water feeding the stream. Thankful for you Diane. Thanks for being here, you were one of my first followers.
Shelley–you’ve only been blogging a year?! amazing. You have been a gift waiting to be unwrapped (and you are an inspiration to me–just January jumping in for this writer).
When I taste the words of your writing, yep, they taste like Sunday, and Jesus.
Didn’t realize it was only January for you Jody. Sunday and Jesus, like that.
I am thankful for that day when you did decide to press the publish button as well as some of the other buttons I might need pushed that get me thinking…..
I hope you’ll send me an email soon Celeste. I want to know how you are doing. I think of you often and pray for you too.
Shelly, I LOVED reading your very first blog post. Thanks for telling me about it. And it appears, perhaps, that you left a full-time job (which you loved) in order to fulfill God’s call as a freelance writer. I’m so glad that you heeded. It looks, too, as if you had a blog prior to Redemption’s Beauty, but I love this one, where you marry art and words. Your photos are as breathtaking as your words. I must admit, that I did a double-take on the White Castle HB’s! My husband calls them belly bombs! I wonder why?! =] Again, hearty congratulations on following God into the deep end of the water of words. You are doing swimmingly well, and I am splashing in the beauty of it all!
I’ve been wondering if I should take that old blog down now. It was my first attempt but so different than this one. And I know what you mean about those White Castles. I couldn’t eat them now but I loved them when I was a child. Thanks for all your generous encouragement Lynn.
You’re so welcome! You probably don’t need it, but I’d leave the archives on this one. What a pleasure to be able to read those. Thanks for pointing that out.
Visiting from A Holy Experience – Happy 1st Anniversary of blogging! And wishing you a wonderful second year, even better than the first …
Thank you Cherry, so glad you stopped by from Ann’s.
well…Lynn peaked my interest…read you first blog…I have to chuckle a little…my first…yours…makes me smile…anyway…that song…we were listening…meditating on the same song…my blog…tuning my heart…so I can tell a better story. That song was my heart cry to the Lord. I thought that was one of those neat connections…both a year ago…both listening to the same song…both launching out into the unknown…because we heard His voice.
Ok, so you confused me because I didn’t remember writing about a song on my first post and then I figured it out on my walk. You read a post I brought over from my first blog BEFORE I wrote my first official blog post on Redemptions Beauty. But I think your comment is a God thing. The fact that He was speaking to us in those early weeks through the same Sara Groves song is really awesome. I’m honored that you followed your curiosity peaked by Lynn’s comment. She’s good at that. And I do cringe about some of my early posts, wondering if I should take some of them down and then I realize that we all start somewhere don’t we?
Yes, you can cast ALL of that self-doubt overboard!!! You made it. Your words inspire so many that it all has to be worth it. Your words are as precious as you are.
Thank Auntie Paula, for your faith in me.
Shelly, look at all these comments and all this love pouring out. People really do appreciate you and I’m one of them. Thanks so so much for taking the time to write your beautiful posts even on days when it seemed like the canoe was taking on water. I am so glad I met you and look so forward to meeting you in person one day soon! You rock, girl. That’s all there is to it.
Love that analogy of the canoe taking on water. I’ve bailed myself out a few times for sure. Thanks for the encouragement and helping me to see through the fog of my own muddied perspective. Grateful for you.
Yes, here too. I could never get enough. I need to partake at the table God provided for you here. For as long as you can accommodate one seat more, I will take that one.
Go, Shelly……. God voices sweet and necessary for you and for us to share. Thank you and I bless you with another year full of those.
You can take a seat in my boat any time Lolita, its a pleasure to have you on board.
I love when you talk about being an extrovert in an world of introverted writers . . . me and you, Shelly. Me and you. 🙂
And a happy anniversary to Redemption’s Beauty! (mine was last month)
Oh wow, its nice to know I’m not the only extrovert writing among the sea of introverts. Thanks Kelli.
Congrats on one year, Shelly! Your words are beautiful. Love how when we choose to step into the boat with Him, He takes us on the most amazing journey. Thanks for linking up today!
Amazing journey is the right expression. Beyond my comprehension. Thanks for all your encouragement Eileen, I really do appreciate it.
I am so glad you’ve continued to share..,and I feel so fortunate to have been along for the ride.
I miss you Kim. But know you’re in the right place, following His lead in all things. So grateful for you . . .and the fact that you commented on my very first post!
Congratulations on your blogaversary! It is a stripping down and rebuilding process isn’t it, this public sharing of words. I loved your metaphor of this journey, it rang true in my heart!
Rebuilding a new and better version, that’s what it is. I like your imagery.
Happy anniversary! You have done an amazing job here, and I am so appreciative of the mosquito-of-self-doubt swatting you encourage all of us to do!
It’s common to all of us if we unleash our words to the world isn’t it? We need each other.
Happy Blogiversary! You are a wonderful writer, and the blog world is a better place because of it 🙂
Karla, you’ve touched me heart deeply. Thank you.
Happy anniversary! I’m so glad you hopped into that canoe and haven’t stopped paddling; your words always inspire me.
Me too, and I don’t even have that much experience sitting in a canoe. Thanks so much for the blessing.
Congratulations on a year of writing and blessing others with your words in this beautiful space!
Oh my Holley, you touched my heart by visiting here. Thank you for the sweet blessing of your words to me.
You are amazing! I have so much to learn from you.
Mostly that I can’t do it in my own power. And if it’s my plan but not God’s plan, it’s not gonna work!
We learn from each other don’t we? That’s how I grow the most. He is so faithful, even when we are not, to grow us up in Him.
Oh, yes, it is a journey, isn’t it? So good that He knows what He’s doing, because I certainly don’t! Congratulations on a whole year of blogging! I know your words are a blessing to many.
Thanks for your congrats and Mary, I’m totally dependent on Him for all the words I write. I don’t want to do any of it in my own strength.
Oh, friend! How I celebrate with you! Congratulations on one year. Your words have been such a blessing to me. Reserving my seat for the rest of this ride. Together.
Well, your encouragement, the words you left here are the best gift I could receive. Thank you.