He Must Increase But I Must Decrease // Blogoversary

This past week marked the first anniversary of my blog, Fullness of Joy. It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I started this journey of blogging! That being the case, I think it is only right to share a little with you about that journey, and the lessons I learnt along the way.

And for that, one has to start from the beginning of the tale...

Before January 2011, I had never ever heard of anything called a "blog" or would have known what it was if anyone mentioned it to me. I had started my writing journey only a few years before, and was slowly realizing how important it was to me. My writing experience mainly branched out in such projects like my first story, Escape from Vanity, some ideas for a story set in Ancient Rome (the seeds for my current historical novel, The Crown of Life), and "just a bit of odd poetry and comic rythme", as Samwise Gamgee would've put it :). Besides that, I used to journal my thoughts irregularly in different dog-worn notebooks, and write book-sized letters to one or two of my friends who lived outside the state.


I remember pretending that I had my own girl's magazine, and I'd write "articles" and stuff just for fun. It was thrilling to imagine that I could reach out to lots of people through the use of words, even if it was only in the scope of my imagination!! But it never occurred to me that one could have an online presence, and that it was really possible to reach others through one's writing.

Around the beginning of last year, I became friends with a lovely young lady who had a private (closed) blog. She sent me an e-mail invitation to her blog, and I browsed into it with some interest, though without fully realizing what I was getting into. It was quite intriguing and I enjoyed reading all the posts she had. I also got introduced to other 'open' blogs from homeschooling girls in other countries. The posts that these lovely girls wrote were really the kind of things I had been longing to write and share about for a long time myself. Besides that, I felt suddenly that there were other young ladies out there who shared many of my convictions. My interest was thoroughly piqued. So much so, that I actually made an account with blogger and made a blog for myself (private). I wrote out an introduction and dabbled with the ready-made blog templates and fonts. But it didn't look as exciting as the blogs I saw about, and at that time I wasn't sure if this was something okay for me to try out. So I soon forgot all about it, and it seemed that that was that. 

June 13 changed all that though. My sister, Sarah, made a YouTube account and, despite it sounding irrelevant to it, my curiosity was aroused once again to making a blog, and I found myself opening up Blogger.com. And the journey started!

I went through phases in the beginning, what with trying to find a suitable blog name-- some of the title idea were Streams of Reflection... or Valley of Reflection--, a nice template design and sending invitations to my friends to view it. Finally, I found a lovely blog template, with a new blog title, Joy's Arbour of Reflection. And from then on, I started blogging regularly, the every day things of life: "busyness updates", music, a bit of my writing, photography (it was during this time I realized how much I enjoy capturing life on camera and sharing it on blogger), stories I read about Christians of the past and devotional thoughts and hymns.  It was indeed my little arbour of thought and reflection! Looking back on the posts now, I feel like blushing at how inexperienced and childish some of my earlier posts were. But despite that, I wrote more simply and freely, without feeling the pressure to get more followers, comments etc...it was just for my family and friends, and though limited in its audience, it gave me the freedom to share life happenings and thoughts and things that I would normally have not written if I had had a open blog. During the first six months, I slowly got better at writing blog posts; blogging gave me an added benefit of exploring other types of writing which I've found to enjoy almost as much as writing fiction. Most of all though, it was a blessing to write about the daily things I was learning in my walk with God, and share with my friends in Christ through it. 

It was always in my mind though, that I'd make joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com an open blog one day.  I didn't know when I'd have the courage to go out in the open and write for a wider audience, but I looked forward to it, while gleaning inspiration from different blogs. At long last, in December 2011, I took that step, and opened up my blog. It was then also, that I renamed my blog "Fullness of Joy". 


Calling it Fullness of Joy, had more to do with it, then being a reflection of my name. It is the Scripture verse in the above header which I long to be a reflection of in this blog: "You will show me the path of life, in Your Presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11. Through life's journey, my Father is teaching me and showing me the path of life. How I long to follow it, walking with Him! How I long to do His will and let Him lead me throughout my life. I know from the bottom of my heart that without Jesus, there would be no joy in life... no happiness. Life would not be worth living. How much sorrow, pain and difficulty there is in the world, and how the way the world presents a glamouring scene of pleasures and delights is truly all false. In reality, it is a hell without Jesus! 


He is source of all of life's joy and happiness because through Him we live, move and have our being. It is in Him and His Presence, abiding in His love, that there is fulfillment in life, there is the fullness of joy. And it is in following the path of the cross, following Jesus, that there is true joy; it is at His right hand that there are pleasures forevermore. I am learning this through every day things in life... I so often stumble and fail... but He is always there. He is my constant when everything in life changes. Life as it presents itself usually does not look very epic or heroic... yet, His love shines through even the mundane, the struggles and the difficulties. There is true joy, even in the simple things of life when one has Jesus. His love and joy in our hearts radiates our lives. As the song goes, "life is worth the living, just because He lives!"...and that's what I long to share on this blog. Fullness of joy in Him, in walking in the path of life, in abiding in His Presence daily. That's my true longing.


But like some of you I'm sure, I have gone through some struggles on why I blog, and what I should post about since I started. I have learnt many lessons about the desire of getting a big audience, and writing appealingly... making my blog "successful". That was my temptation, unrealized or noticed when I first made Fullness of Joy public. Just the lure of getting more followers, comments and have a good look on my blog like those special blogs out there was quite strong. I did not realize that fully at the time; but I had felt that pressure to copy some of the other more popular blogs in the post styles to get people to 'notice' my blog. I was looking at how many comments and followers I was getting, and not what God was leading me to write. For a while it was a real struggle. It still is sometimes. But the Lord lovingly corrected and convicted me of this through His Word, as well as through a good talk I had with my parents about all that early this year. 


Through it, I learnt a lot and it was a true growing experience. I realized so much of my pride that was in it all, and how I was compromising for 'quantity' and not for what would glorify Christ and edify and bless my sisters in Christ. I still need the Lord's grace in this, but the Lord is gracious and helps us in our weakness and I am learning this every day. How true it is, and in the depths of my heart I long, that "He must increase, but I must decrease..." (John 3:30) And I pray that my life, and this blog would reflect this.

I know that one of the hardest things in blogging is to find inspiration for blog posts, and then the actual execution of those inspirations on the screen. It can be hard to be authentic, when there are so many blogs out there, but I think if one writes about what he really loves without thought about being genuine or authentic, just being truthful, then it will be authentic. I find the things that most inspire me to write my blog posts are the things that inspire me in real life as well. My love of writing, reading, music, the things I read, listen and watch, photography and nature, my family and friends, being a daughter and sister at home but most of all my life in Jesus all inspire and affect what I write on blogger. Often I've struggled writing posts on what I've read in God's Word or what He's spoken to my heart through devotional/inspirational posts, because I've felt a lack of that deeper knowledge and faith in God in myself. So how can I write and share with others what I am still learning and struggling with? But sometimes we "preach best what we need to learn most", and even though we don't need to preach, just sharing our own struggles and Scripture, quotes, stories, songs helps us in our own walk with God, as well as to others.


Of course sometimes the inkwell does dry out, and then you, my poor long-suffering readers, have to suffer a bit!! But inspiration can be found around us if we look hard enough and ponder in our hearts, and that is what I am trying to learn to draw from in my writing, with God's help. 
To end this long-winded post, I just wanted to thank you all so very much for all your lovely comments and encouragements you've shared throughout my first year of blogging. Your feedback and encouragement makes blogging all the more worth it. Also, I want to thank my followers for following this blog. Wow, I am really blessed. You all are great :). Most of all, it is a blessing to have 'met' you all, as sisters in Christ, and be encouraged together in Him!


May the Lord Jesus bless you all abundantly as you walk on the path of life, dwelling in His Presence, where there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore!

Comments

  1. Congratulations, Joy, on having reached one year of blogging! The Lord has let you on a beautiful journey, and is leading you still. :) As a blogger myself, it's easy to write for the acclaim--what I think people will connect with. But I'm trusting the Lord to show me what to write, and leaving the increase up to Him. A good reminder. Happy "Blog" Birthday, and may your next year be even more pleasurable and inspiring as you seek God's leading. :D

    Blessings,
    Schuyler

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  2. Thanks, Schuyler, for your beautiful comment :). The Lord is so good, isn't he!

    I have really enjoyed what you've been blogging by the way, and the spiritually-edifying book reviews have been very helpful to me as well. It is so important just to write what God lays on our hearts to post, and to trust the Lord for the response/increase. But it isn't the most important thing, and that's been something I've been learning.

    Thank you, dear sister. I pray the same for you too!
    God bless,
    ~Joy

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  3. Congratulations on a year of blogging! I only found your blog through As Lilies Sewing today, and on having a quick look around was a little excited on finding another homeschooler on ACE (I am sure there are plenty out there, but I don't really look for them!).

    All that you said about blogging was a timely reminder for me. It is so true that we can be tempted to count numbers as a sign of success, making getting more readers our goal rather than glorifying the Lord. I would like to thank you for that reminder!

    Blessings in Christ,
    Anna

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  4. Hi Anna,

    I am really glad to "meet" you :). Wow, that's wonderful that you're an ACE homeschooler too! I honestly didn't know that there many homeschoolers in England(I learnt that you live there from your lovely blog which I've subscribed to). Actually, in Australia there are many homeschoolers who use the ACE curriculum... so there are many out there :). Glad to meet one from England though!!! Is it hard to be a homeschooler in England?

    Thank you for your encouragement; yes, how often we do that, looking at the numbers to define success instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus, glorify Him. A lesson I am continually learning.

    Blessings in Christ,
    ~Joy

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