You Can’t Make Me But You Might Make Me Want To…Read This

Bloggers blog to have an outlet for the many thoughts cooped up in their heads. At least, that’s what I’d like to think. Sure, there are some who think their writing will compel thousands to instantaneously subscribe to their blog, which then leads them to fame and fortune.

I blog because I love to write, and it’s a bonus when my writing is good enough that it connects with you, challenges you, annoys you and makes you want to keep reading. The weird thing with blogging is that most bloggers I know want people to read their posts. You make it fun in a different way. The comments let us know you’re there, but there are ways to know that there are silent ones who read as faithfully as they can. Thank you. We/I can get needy that way, wanting readers. We’re very vain that way. We figure if we write it, it surely must be worth reading. But with a bajillion blogs out there it’s easy to get lost and be very lonely.

So in the spirit of broadening our RSS feeds, I’d love to know what blogs – other than More Than Serving Tea, of course – you follow and why.

Thanks!

Popular.

Being a published writer is a very strange thing indeed. I remember feeling grateful and proud when I saw my first byline, and I remember that More Than Serving Tea didn’t seem real until the first copies arrived at my home. I couldn’t believe someone was going to read what I had written.

But that’s when the fear and doubt really try to settle in and get comfortable. Getting published (or writing a public blog) doesn’t mean anyone is going to read what you wrote. It just means you’ve entered a new kind of crazy, manic, creative, wishful, hopeful, fearful place. Being published doesn’t mean having readers.

Blogging has opened up an entirely new avenue for writers to do just that – write and then hope their words will have readers who not only read what they’ve written but love it. Or at least like it enough. Is there anyone out there who blogs on a public blog and doesn’t want people to read it? You? You write a public blog but you don’t care if anyone reads it? Liar.

😉

We bloggers all have our good days when we write something that we think is funny or thoughtful or thought provoking, and our lovely readers concur. And then we have our bad days when inspiration never strikes or the words aren’t as clever or don’t turn quite right.

I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t know how many readers I have. It keeps me humble because most days here at More Than Serving Tea it’s a small but faithful bunch. It’s been fun over the two years or so to learn a little more about some of you, and even better to actually meet some of you (Alvin!).

But today (Friday) was not a good day or a bad day. It was weird. I was popular.

I’ve seen surges in my readership, especially when the likes of Scot McKnight or Sojourners crosspost or link to my blog. It is flattering because I respect both blogs and the communities that read those sites, and I’m grateful to have that exposure and mutual respect. And it is dangerous because I see how easily my humility turns false and gratitude for a God-given ability to write wants more than feeling God’s pleasure as I write. I want fame . Or at the very least some blogosphere popularity.

But today the blog stats were beyond anything I had seen, so initially I thought my post on keeping my mouth shut was beyond amazing. I still think I had a pretty good line or two and that the overall post was well-written, but that really wasn’t it. I lucked out and my post made some popularity list that I think is created randomly. I could say that it was a God-thing, and maybe it was. I’m pretty sure in some way it was. I just don’t think it was to make me popular and famous, per se. Popularity, even for one day, can feel like success, and even success is fleeting and misguided because it easily makes me stare at my bellybutton.

Today was a good lesson in popularity because I had it and I was “it”, and, friends, it is the same as it was in high school. Fast, flattering and fleeting. I can only hope that a handful of the many first-time readers (heck, I’d take one) would stick around for the ride to join the ranks of my long-time readers, first-time commenters. But that’s popularity.

I could work hard to try to be witty and write posts with popular tags in popular categories. I could try to be popular, but if today was a God-thing, God was giving me a tiny bit of space for me to think about why I gave a “bleep” about what other people think about my writing before I gave a moment’s thought to whether or not my words communicated integrity, faith, grace, hope and love.

Do I want to be popular first or do I want to be found faithful first?

Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Will I Know It When I See It?

Tiger & Elin. Jon & Kate. Deadly Viper & some angry Asian Americans.

What does reconciliation look like? What’s the difference between “moving on” in a healthy way and exercising the privilege to walk away from difficult conversations?

All the buzz about Tiger’s return to golf  and Kate’s debut on the dance floor caught my attention not because I care about golf or hair extensions but because their choice to “move on” from their respective scandals has got me thinking about forgiveness and reconciliation. Yes, their lives were a circus before the scandals, a teeny bit different than mine. Peter is not a pro golfer, and I am not a model. Peter does not own anything Ed Hardy, and I don’t get followed by the paparazzi. They are celebrities, but they and we are human beings. Why wouldn’t they want to move on, heal, and, perhaps, forget? I would.

But is that reconciliation? Would it be enough to see Elin stand by her man at the Masters? (IMHO, no. It would not.) If not, what is enough? Can someone ever apologize enough? Ask for forgiveness enough? Be forgiven enough? And then is that reconciliation?

So the saga known as Deadly Viper isn’t exactly like Tiger and Elin and Jon and Kate, but when I think about forgiveness and reconciliation I can’t help but think about DV. There was a lot of ugliness and some hope. There were hurt feelings and misunderstandings. There were conversations and side conversations about actions versus intent versus past deeds done. There were divisions, sides taken, and allegiances. And it was in real time, on-line and public in a “you can’t take that back ever” sort of way. Relationships that started out broken between real people fractured in such a way that made me (and I speak for myself and no one else involved in the DV saga) wonder if we achieved the right end. I’m still wondering…

If, for argument sake, reconciliation for the two celebrity couples means restoring their marriages, what does reconciliation for those involved in DV look like? Is reconciliation necessary? Is it worth it? Who pursues it and how?

The Friends We Are & the Friends We Have

As a child I remember the most jarring part of moving was saying goodbye to Serge, Vikram, and Evangelia. They were the friends that made recess at Waters Elementary worth the wait and gave each of us someone else to blame when the walk home took longer than it should because we stopped at the little store to buy a piece of candy. We were the best of friends and having to find new friends was scary. It still is.

I suppose that is partly why after reading The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow, all I want to do is get together with some of my closest college girlfriends to catch up, cry, laugh, drink some wine and eat. K, P and C are not the childhood or young adulthood friends that are chronicled in the book, but they represent the closest I have come to the deep and enduring friendships I have just read about.

My husband said that though we hadn’t known each other for very long before our marriage, meeting my friends, watching us, and hearing us taught him so much about me. He was watching both the kind of friend I was as well as the kind of friends I had, and he continues to watch as some of my friendships enter a third decade while others are just starting out.

There was a season in my life when there was little space for new friendships. I craved connection to other new moms, but the demands of motherhood when life was full of infants and toddlers and preschoolers made establishing new friendships seem impossible. But God surprised me with new friends, some of them women I had known of or known years ago.

So now that there is a different pace to motherhood I find myself longing for friends like K, P and C to be both near and far.

To maintain the friendships from far away we have used technology to help us connect through three time zones. We have made celebrations and professional conferences as perfect excuses to get together. We will see how crisis and death in the future play into our reunions.

And to build new friendships I am simply trying – trying to set aside my own insecurities, competitiveness, and other character traits that desperately need God’s redemption and trying to be the kind of friend I have been so blessed by. Trying to be open to new things, but I’m really not sure I have the time for scrapbooking. (If any of you are reading this you know who you are 😉 Thank you for reminding me that I am still invited even though I joke about it being a cult.) Trying not just because I’m an extrovert but because we aren’t meant to do real life all alone. Trying because my daughter is watching and hopefully learning how girls and their friendships grow into women and their friendships. Trying because friendships have been good for my soul, made us more into the image of God we were created to be. Trying because laughing and crying and coffee and wine and a good book or a bad argument are always better with a friend.

How old are some of your most precious friendships and how have you weathered life’s transitions? How have you nurtured new acquaintances into deeper friendships? How have your friendships changed you?

Has LOST Left You Behind?

More Than Serving Tea readers, do you watch LOST?

My husband and I are big fans. We jumped into the show at the start of Season 2 and because of the convergence of several personal transitions/crisis/circumstances we chose to self-medicate by buying Season 1 on DVD and spending many nights getting know Sayid, Jin, Sun and Hurley. We currently own the entire series. After Season 6 comes out we will need a new idea for a Christmas gift to ourselves.

Our appreciation for the show has deepened as our investment in the characters and what they stand for has increased. Tuesday night there were 17 of us watching the show’s final season premiere at our home, complete with Dharma Initiative food and costumes. We had guest appearances by Hurley, Charlie, pregnant Claire, the Smoke Monster, Kate, Eloise Hawking and Workman.

Seventeen of us – half of the group traveled from the city out to the burbs – gathered for food and fun in the middle of the work week to hang out, watch a great show and talk during the commercial breaks. The group was a fun mix of people who wouldn’t have any other reason to get together except for the fact that they all know me and my husband and we all love LOST.

LOST has created a community, and for me that has meant an excuse to invite people into my home and therefore into my life to break bread, drink some Dharma wine, watch a show and get to know one another. More than a few people having seen photos of our past LOST parties on Facebook have half-jokingly, half-seriously said they would start watching the show just to come to our goofy parties.

I’ve talked to many people who are not interested in the show at all, but many of them have commented on this community around the show. There is a sense of being on the outside, left behind. I know at least two people who have invested A LOT of time catching up on five seasons in order to catch this final season at the start. Is it that the show is that good or the community is that convincing?

Do you watch? Why? Why not?

Leave a comment. Better yet, the person leaving the best comment (as determined best by me and maybe my husband) about why you love the show or why you don’t watch the show in a limerick, haiku or iambic pentameter will win their choice of  1.)Dharma Initiative chocolates, 2.) Dharma Initiative iron-on transfer or 3.) a copy of More Than Serving Tea.

P.S. Here is a great article about why another fan is a fan.

UPDATE: Sorry I neglected to include a deadline for my little contest. This morning at 12:45 a.m. CST, just a few hours before the earthquake, my husband and I declared Sara as the winner of our LOST contest. Her prize will be in the mail this week.

But if you feel the urge to rhyme and write an ode to our beloved show LOST, please do so. We love LOST around here. With or without tea.