Sunday, October 18, 2015
Tonight's lesson is why today the number ten is my favorite number, at least temporarily. It's a good number. It was the definition of Bo Derek in the movie Ten. It's the number of amendments in the Bill of Rights and the number of years between each US census. There are ten events in the decathlon, ten bowling pins fall when we get a strike, and ten yards for a touchdown in football. A basketball goal is ten feet from the court surface and our folks tell us to count to ten when we are mad. Biblically, that's how many spies reported it was impossible to take the Promised Land and how many commandments the Lord gave Moses. I don't want to bore you. That's a short list but a representative argument of why ten, to me at least, is a shoo-in for the Numbers Hall Of Fame.
But tonight is not about those rather random facts about ten. You see, ten years ago today, on October 18, 2005, I wrote my first blog on this sight. I actually introduced myself on blogger the day before, telling an extremely limited audience what I was about to do the next day. The impetus came from a college acquaintance, David Barnett, who was working for a book company and made a presentation at one of our faculty meetings. David told me if I wanted to sell the book I had penned, it would be beneficial to start a blog....and so I did. Being computer illiterate for all intents and purposes, I had my student teacher aide, Benedicte Magali Ilana Ingeborg Matuszczak, who went by Bouba, to format it for me and the rest is, well, you decide. My first entry was about an interview I had watched on CBS Sixty Minutes about football player Bill Romanowski who divulged that the trait that made him an all-star was HATE. And I've never stopped writing.
At first, I had to write at school as I had no home computer. But I wearied of being in my classroom until late at night so over the ten years, I purchased three computers, including two laptops, with the help of WCS tech gurus Paul Pollard and Michael Fonville. I settled into a routine of using Georgia font in blue ink and shortly after lift off, began adding the Applicable Quote Of The Day feature. (The first one I used was by Marilyn Monroe: "I've been on a calendar but I've never been on time.") I decided I would never write on controversial topics or politics as there is no shortage of those types of sites. I would make them, hopefully, thought provoking but understandable by my eighth grade Bible students. There have been a number of sources of inspiration for these devotionals, most of which take several hours to write. My family. Life in Nebraska. Memories of being an athlete. Something that happened in class or at school or at practice. Former students. Mission trips. I often pray to God that He give me something to write about that day and then something unexpected happens. Those times really help my faith.
From August 1, 2007 when Dad had a stroke, to April 15, 2008 when he died, this site became the place for me to pass on news and updates of his condition as well as Mom's who suffered from Alzheimer's. I am so glad I had this blog because it provided a connection for those who loved my parents, and there were many, and it left me with a history of the day to day struggle of Dad's fight to live and regain a normal life. It also gave me a way to let other's express their feelings for my folks as Mom died less than a year later. It was cathartic to me to be able to feel useful in the most difficult of times.
As the years passed, I made some changes, some due to blogger which updated its systems, always causing me stress but leading to a better product when I figured it out. I also began giving my students a voice through in-class writing assignments, always with their permission, as they rewrite parables, describe the one they want to marry, and my favorite, authoring blessings to their unborn children. (This year's blessings will start this week!) Also, I began reaching out to others to fill in for me as I spent July each summer on the mission field. There have been some incredible articles here by my family members, Joe Widick, Ken Ellis, Trina Agee Cornell, and more friends than I can list here. This summer saw another first with my first international devotional blogger as the incredibly beautiful and talented Yanping Chen, from China, sat in my blogger's chair for two nights. (Yanping, an accountant, will take over my massive fortune when my current accountant, Larry Roder, retires!) I also started adding pictures, when of course, someone showed me how. The visual always supplements the verbal.
For years, I really tried to increase the number of blog followers I have which currently stands at 658 and has changed little in several years. But I began paying less attention to that number with two more changes. The first is when I began sending the devotionals out as e-mails every night to about 350 folks on a mailing list, a carryover from nightly reports when I was in Vietnam. The other change, which has proven huge, was giving in and going on FACEBOOK in May of 2011. I post the blog every evening and with close to 4,300 Friends, including many in Vietnam, my thoughts have the possibility of being exposed to quite a few people. I can't tell how many read the e-mailed version but blogger has a dashboard to tell me how many visit the actual site per entry. A good night is about 50-60. I have no idea why but a devotional on the movie Cinderella Man has almost 1,300 hits! Sometimes the number is less than twenty. I'm not going to lie- bigger numbers inflate my sense of self worth!
So, do I have ten more years in me? I have no idea- there was no long term plan when I started. I doubt I could have conceived of ten years ten years ago. There are times when I wish I could give it up but then I get an e-mail telling how much one of the stories meant to a reader. Or how a sister in Christ has a ritual of reading right before she goes to bed. Or how a thought rekindled a long ago memory about a hymn or a grandparent. I learn more about Jesus every day so I don't think I'm close to running out of material. Do you know what's funny? I don't have a favorite or even a group of favorites. Truthfully, I don't recall what I posted a week ago so typically my favorite is the one I just wrote. So if you've made it this far, you have just read the favorite devotional I have ever put on the Internet. And I am so honored and humbled that you did. To ten more years.....
Applicable quote of the day, # 1: “There is some blogging jerk out there who feels he can generalize his way to validity.”
― Neil Young,
Applicable quote of the day, # 2:
“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.”
― Lee Odden
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Steve Hawley at 7:47 PM