how redesigning your blog can remind you of your purpose

It took years for it to feel normal for me to write on a blog. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it. I marvel at the blogless people, the women who don’t even know the word. I envy them sometimes. It might be because I am still learning how to be a blogger, an author, and a person.

water tower

Chatting at the Sky got a little makeover this weekend. If you read in a in a reader or by email, this could be a good day to click over and poke around. Erin from Design by Insight works magic and can read minds. I highly recommend her.

You who are new here might think I have a blog because I wrote books and authors are supposed to have blogs and junk. But that’s not why I have a blog.

I started a blog because I had toddlers giving up pacifiers and I needed someplace to work that out. I wrote the night before our son was born. I wrote about my brainless answers to four-year-old questions. I wrote after we totaled our car.

Writing my stories over time uncovered the writer inside me. I have only taken my writing seriously for about three years. I’ve been blogging for six. As I sifted through old posts to re-categorize things, my hand hovered over delete more times than I can count.

There is some straight up crazy in these archives. I’m not exaggerating. Some of the things I used to write I simply don’t enjoy writing anymore and I was tempted to take out anything that didn’t fit. But I didn’t.  I’m leaving it all in.

Blogging has profoundly changed me. I felt like a shadow before I started writing here. For years like many of you, I wrote in journals. But journal writing is different. It wasn’t until I began to write things to be read by a community of people that I began to see myself. I am a mess. I am a contradiction. I am brave and also not.

Working those things out in writing helps me to have peace with it rather than fight it so much. Thinking about my own contradictions in my head brings anxiety. But writing through them gives me courage. Yes, I am a mess. But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to offer.

Hope profoundly motivates me.

I see the world as a half-full glass.

I risk Pollyanna by writing that way but I don’t care.

Even when I feel hopeless, discouraged or small, writing here reminds me that small isn’t a bad thing. The critics and disappointments carry their own kind of gifts.

emily p freemanI desperately want to keep this a place for your soul to breathe. That means something different for everyone. For me, it means calming photos, thoughtful words, and lots of white space.

In an effort to stay true to writing what I love best but also make it easy for those who wish to poke around and find real information, we’ve re-worked the archives and added a few features that, hopefully, will smooth things out.

For years I wrote sporadically about family, motherhood, faith. I still write about those things, but I do it differently now. I am different now. My writing voice reads stronger. In real life, I can be a bit of a wimp. But I’m not as wimpy as I used to be, and I think that is because of this blog.

God has used writing to convict me of sin and selfishness. He has also used it to convict me of righteousness and giftedness. You can’t leave that part out.

Every time I publish something here, I want to have something in my hands to offer. If I have nothing in my hands, it doesn’t mean I won’t write. But I will wait until the emptiness has a bit of a shape before I give it to you.

I want you to be able to find your way around. I want to share myself with you as authentically as I am able. I want you to read and I want to make it easy.

If there is something that would make it easier, would you let me know?

My dad reminded me this weekend as we spent some time together, “We make the mistake of thinking people have arrived and we judge them there. But they are always changing, growing, learning. And so are we. We’re not done yet.”

This is not all we’ll ever be. We live, notice, hope, remember, and trip over the middle. We love in the middle. And the middle is where we write.

We’re not done yet. I’m thankful for that.

Comments

  1. Anna says

    I’m so glad you didn’t delete! When I first discovered you, or more accurately God led me to your blog and used it to bless and speak to me, I read the archives. And it was honestly one of the most enjoyable and uplifting experiences – it would be the best book! X

  2. says

    I love the new look, and I’m so very glad you resisted the “delete” button. Your courage and growth encourages so many others to be courageous!!
    You’re an inspiration – maybe an unwilling one at times, but an inspiration just the same. God speaks through your sweet voice. Hearts are stirred, motivation is planted, souls are soothed. From what I can tell, your desires for this space are being fulfilled.
    Stay true, friend!
    Love from Virginia!! <3
    Joy Manoleros´s last blog post ..graduation!!

  3. MARYNELL says

    Thanks for sharing…and thanks for sharing what your father said….that will be my touchstone quote today…the one I share all during the day, and the one I hold next to my heart for a long time….as long as I continue to change…!

  4. says

    Beautiful redesign for a beautiful writer. I am in that family-mom-pacifier writing stage, which has great purpose for a time. Yet sometimes I wonder if I’ll have anything to offer once my kids are a little more grown and I’m a little less messy. I’d love to know more about your transition – even just an encouraging word that your message changes as you, too, change and grow. Yes? Thank you for your blog, Emily!
    Becky K´s last blog post ..When You Want What They Have

  5. says

    I loved this Emily. I already love your writing, but today this is just right for where my heart has been loafing…thank you for being so real and allowing us a peek into your life. I’m so thankful that you keep writing. I loved this: “I am a mess. I am a contradiction. I am brave and also not.” I get that and feel that way so much of the time…okay, almost ALL the time! I’m also at a place where I still feel weird blogging…even though I do love doing it…so thank you for giving the nudge to keep doing it. I pray that God just uses it, brokenness, mess, and all, to encourage hearts who are also feeling stuck in a mess.

    Love the new look, by the way! Blessings to you :)
    Ashlie´s last blog post ..Hiding Place

  6. says

    Emily,

    I’m so glad you didn’t delete one single word from your archives. I, too, have been so blessed by your words here in this space in the very short time I’ve been joining you here at Chatting at the Sky.

    “I am a mess. I am a contradiction. I am brave and also not.” Oh, you put the words in my mouth. I so feel this way when I go back and read past posts on my own blog and that “good girl” raises her head wondering what others will think. But as you say, we are in the middle. We’re learning and growing and those “posts” we sometimes want to delete are part of that process. And thank goodness we are making progress. We can, are, and will move forward : )

    Love your new look : )

    Sweet Blessings,
    Pam
    Pam´s last blog post ..When my cup of coffee isn’t the only thing that’s stirred . . .

  7. says

    It is amazing how taking a new look at something old will help you to see it differently. I’ve had the same experiencing while trying to make my blog more of a reflection of *me*, not who I think people expect me to be.

    Thank you for your open handed sharing.
    Eyvonne´s last blog post ..An Evening Walk Anthem

  8. says

    WOW! I LOVE your redesigned blog…love the words and the white space…as a fellow blogger, I especially identify with you when you said, “Writing my stories over time uncovered the writer inside me … Blogging has profoundly changed me. I felt like a shadow before I started writing here. For years like many of you, I wrote in journals. But journal writing is different. It wasn’t until I began to write things to be read by a community of people that I began to see myself”… thank you for your open, honest, and transparent writing…you are an inspiration to your fellow bloggers :)
    beth willis miller´s last blog post ..Co-Author of Under His Wings Workbook with Sherrie Eldridge!

  9. says

    This post really speaks to my heart. Blogging has really opened my eyes in many ways too…and I’m still learning. Thanks for sharing, and please keep doing so!

  10. says

    I love the mini-makeover. And your words about change as a blogger and writer echo so many of my own thoughts. I’ve wanted to make over my own space for ages now and every time I’m on the cusp, something falls through {either the person who’s going to do it or the resources I was going to use to finance the makeover.} Sigh. It’s a small thing by comparison but still, my blog looks and works nothing like I wish it did. All in due time right?

    I’m so glad you didn’t delete anything. I started reading you 4-5 years ago, back when you were writing things that you’d now like to delete. And I loved your thoughts and words then just like I do now. Keep on keeping it real my friend. : )
    Scooper´s last blog post ..Summer House Love

  11. says

    Uh huh to the embarrassing stuff sitting on a blog from a couple years ago. That’s really powerful and true what your dad said. We’re all still growing and creating and trying to live out this message God whispers in us. I’m thankful for your blog, Emily. Your words have been an encouragement to me for years. (and your re-do here is pretty snazzy!)
    amanda d´s last blog post ..when regret wants to be friends

  12. says

    I love your blog. I loved it before your redesign and I love it even more now. I have just started blogging and feel you have perfectly expressed the reasons why. I journal but something about blogging releases into a community where it calms me and helps me process the thoughts associated with the words.

    I absolutely love the last lines of this post. If you see my blog’s concept you will understand why. It is all about the middle. I know about the middle. Thank you.

  13. says

    I’m so glad you left everything in (so much like our personal stories) and didn’t take out the parts that don’t seem to suit you anymore – because it was a journey and we learn from each others.

    Clean redesign. I like the little pictures up top too!

  14. says

    Wow. Just wow. I’ve struggled with my blogging the last week. I’ve stayed away from writing even though I love it. Thanks for this, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I love your blog and love the new design. Keep writing, please!

  15. says

    Oh Em! I didn’t realize we were both going live today with a new look. What beautiful company to be in. I love this space so much. It has inspired me and challenged me as I think about both my design and my writing. You make us all want to be braver artists. Thank you for that. This space is as breathable and lovely as ever. Much love, Lisa-Jo
    Lisa-Jo@thegypsymama´s last blog post ..A great, big, blog-warming party with house-warming giveaways galore!

  16. says

    I’m so thankful you write and share your thoughts with the world. Your new place is lovely. I can relate to all you say here. I started writing from passion less than a year ago after writing for money for four years. Someone who has followed me from the beginning of my blogging journey just nine short months ago, said she was witnessing my tranformation through my writing. It is helpful to have an outside perspective, someone standing on the sidelines seeing the way this writing changes us into more of who He created us to be. I am so thankful for taking the first step. Thankful you did too.
    Shelly Miller´s last blog post ..Redemption’s Imperfect Clarity

  17. says

    I’ve been reading here for a while and I’ve loved everything you’ve ever written. I’m glad you’re updating the archives to make them easier to navigate.

    You’ve reminded me of the song the little ones sing “He’s Still Working on Me”. I’ve always believed that song was for the adults, too. ;)
    Southern Gal´s last blog post ..The Gifts

  18. says

    Such a lovely post. I have noticed my evolution as a blogger of almost 4 years. I know the feeling of wanting to delete something that just doesn’t “fit” anymore, but that would be like deleting a bit of me. A bit of my progression. We can’t see the change and progress without seeing where we’ve come from and that is all the reason not to delete.
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Hello, Monday!

  19. says

    I adore that little line of photos at the top of the page. The design is lovely—consistent with your previous design but with a little extra pep. I was like you before I started blogging—an avid journal writer. I treasure having an outlet for my thoughts now, and yes, I do look at other women wondering how they process their thoughts without posting them for anyone to see! :)
    Erica {let why lead}´s last blog post ..Behind the Scenes of Let Why Lead

  20. says

    Loved your Dad’s quote… and love your blog. It’s one of my absolute favorites! Thanks for baring your soul for all of us to identify with!

  21. Marilyn says

    I have recently discovered this blog & I’m so thankful I did!
    I used to journal quite a bit, but have not done much (any!) in the recent months. This is a particularly difficult time in my life (a husband with Alzheimer’s disease & oldest male child (adult) extremely ill) and I NEED to get back to writing. I think your beautiful blog will be an inspiration to me – thank you! :)

  22. says

    this is lovely, emily. but then, it always has been. thank you for writing yourself out in this space-it’s been so good to read for the last 18 months. i have one question – you opted NOT to change the title of your blog to your own name. and i am actually glad about that. but i’m wondering what your thinking is about that? so many have changed to new formats/looks and also changed the URL to their own name. i guess i see the advantage of that, but sometimes i wonder about it. so to find that you have chosen not to do that is intriguing to me. love to hear about your thought process there.
    Diana Trautwein´s last blog post .."This Difficult Friendship" – Living in Bodies

      • says

        I actually do, too, Anna! That’s one reason I asked. And Emily just wrote a lovely response – which has not shown up in this space for me to respond to yet – so THANK YOU, Emily, for taking the time to fill me in. My uber-techie son-in-law has been urging me to purchase a URL in my own name, so maybe I’ll look into that. But I really do love blog names and yours is one of my all-time favorites. I’m glad to see it land in my inbox every single time. Your wonderful way with words and ideas is an inspiration to so many of us – and your message? SO needed. Thank you.
        Diana Trautwein´s last blog post ..TSP Book Club: Scared of the Dark

  23. says

    Love love LOVE this post. I totally feel the same way — I started blogging in late 2007, and it has changed me profoundly. It has made me more confident in the gift of writing God has blessed me with, and more willing to use that gift. Blogging has helped me meet some incredible people, and work through some incredibly difficult stuff (an eating disorder, the death of our first child). I never would have expect blogging to have done anything of any value for me when I started…but I’m so glad that I did start, and so glad that you started, too, and that we’re both still going. It’s a gift to ourselves and to others! Love how that works.
    Beth´s last blog post ..Unraveling

  24. says

    What a great makeover – and thank you for being so honest. I have felt like I have changed as a blogger over the years and always felt bad that I didn’t have it all together at the beginning with a strategy and a clear writing voice and just a plan that made any kind of sense. I was sporadic and my topics were all over the place. I’m starting to get clarity on who I am as a writer and a blogger and I’m trying to work that through in my own blog as well. And of course a little redesign is always a fabulous thing!
    Christine Trevino´s last blog post ..Party Pack Giveaway from The Party Works

  25. says

    I am SO GLAD you didn’t hit delete. I know what you mean… wondering how much to leave here online when you’ve become someone new, in a sense. I’ve been fighting with this too this summer as I redesign my site… and your words encourage me deeply. It’s like giving up a part of our history if we take down the goofy monuments in favor only of what represents us today. Love your courage to leave it all. To be all of you in this way. Blessings, sister!
    Laurie Wallin´s last blog post ..How To Put Your Stress In Permanent ‘Time Out’

  26. says

    Hi, Emily…the new look is delightful. I think I’ve been stopping by here for almost a year now, but today I have rediscovered your blog. The way you regrouped your archives is great. And I have to say that I’m glad you didn’t delete any of your history. I’m just starting my blog and it is encouraging to know that I have room to grow into it! A few months ago I went back and read the very first few posts of a couple of my favorite bloggers and I liked what I read even though every one was pretty different than their current style. Keep writing and thank you :)
    Karen´s last blog post ..Grace for the Good Girl: Week 2

  27. Dianne says

    “Hope profoundly motivates me.
    I see the world as a half-full glass.
    I risk Pollyanna by writing that way but I don’t care.
    Even when I feel hopeless, discouraged or small, writing here reminds me that small isn’t a bad thing. The critics and disappointments carry their own kind of gifts.”

    love this … love you …
    and kudos friend … the makeover has created an even more serene space for me to breathe …

    xoxo
    d

  28. says

    I like your makeover here. And you still kept a lot of white space…definitely fits with your message. I love love love your dad’s wise comment. It is so true, and we all need to remember that everyone is in the midst of growing and changing until we are buried in the ground.
    Thank you for your writing. As you know, it is a gift.

  29. says

    ok…i must say I am shocked to read this…I have only been in the bloggy world for less than year…and i only found you not too long ago…so when I read your very wonderful blog…you being the writer you are…it is so surprising to read you opening line…to be honest this helps. I am still very uncomfortable in this place…I know some is pride…but some of it …I really don’t consider myself a writer…I feel foolish writing in this very gifted blog world…but I can’t leave as much as I want to sometimes…my husband often encourages me to just stay a year…then reevaluate…bummer…after reading this…I might just have to give it some more time.
    Thanks for leaving the old post…I will poke around a bit…I already cringe at my first ones:)
    I love the simplicity of the design…this post has touch my heart and I think God wanted me to read it…blessings~
    r.elliott´s last blog post ..His Ocean of Love

  30. says

    Emily, it’s so beautiful and full of all the same light & breathing space. I love the banner of images up top too. Can I tell you how thankful I am for the archive categories, too? To go back and read about those early mothering days? Thanks for keeping it all, Emily, and living out the process, inviting us to journey along.
    Annie´s last blog post ..On Practicing Life-Music and Meditating over Meatloaf

  31. says

    My writing voice reads stronger.

    I love that.
    I am like you in that way, and it seems like God is working on me to be less of a wimp when I’m not writing lately, too! But writing first gives me courage, and helps me organize and think what I think.

    Your blog is beautiful.
    And I just started your book this weekend. I’m grateful for it already.
    Emily
    Emily Cook´s last blog post ..Messy Mommy Jobs #6 and Link Up

  32. says

    Oh, Emily. This SUITS you beautifully. You’ve captured how I see you, which I know is just a glimpse, but still, you’ve done it! Jumping up and down a little, clapping my hands a lot. You inspire me by what you say, do…and sometimes just think.

    You’re a gift and thank you for sharing your gifts.

    Much love,

    xo
    See~Robin~Dance´s last blog post ..Inspired deals

  33. says

    Thank you for connecting the dots for me. I think I may understand more of why I write in your beautifully eloquent words of why you do. Yes the middle. I am all about the middle. Where we live, we change, and we grow. This is peaceful and it is rich. I like coming here. And I always look forward to my return visits. Not deleting was so wise because that was part of you and of your journey. I have always wanted to write to a younger me and say the dumb, the silly, the yuck is okay it was who you were THEN. Thanks for leaving those other seasons in the story that is you.
    Elizabeth´s last blog post ..When The Past, The Present and The Future Collide

  34. says

    Love your blog make over. It looks lovely, serene, and peaceful. It feels like a place of rest in a world that can be very much in your face. Thank you for leaving the archives. We are all on a journey and they are part of yours. Your writing blesses and inspires me. Thank you.
    Your dad gave you some words of wisdom. “We are not done yet.”
    Donna´s last blog post ..Night Class

  35. says

    I am a mess. I am a contradiction. I am brave and also not.

    Me, too. :)

    I love how your blog and your sister’s blog have a common thread. The one of how it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Not your home. And not you yourself either.

    I always find such beauty here.

    Always.
    Kimberly´s last blog post ..A Father’s Day Repost

  36. says

    The change is refreshing, Emily, and calm. Just right. There’s so much that goes into changing the look of a blog, isn’t there? You’ve done well. And? The temptation of the delete button in the archives? I was nodding my head about that! Good job leaving the path behind you visible. We all need to peek over our shoulders from time to time and see how we’ve become. You said it well (as usual!) Thanks for being real. That, too, is so refreshing!
    Carmella´s last blog post ..Inside :: Outside

  37. says

    I’m currently working on my redesign now. I’ll let you know when it goes live! I am ready to be sold out more than ever for Chist ( It comes in layers doesn’t it?) and hopefully the blog will refect that .
    Diane Bailey´s last blog post ..When Waiting is Hard

  38. says

    Laughing about your “straight up crazy.” I HEAR you. I’m glad you kept it. About a year ago, I came across a depressing journal from my teenage years; it was painful to read. It held so much hurt, piled up on those pages. I thought of throwing it away, assuring that its contents would be kept secret forevermore. But I didn’t. I kept it. It’s part of my story.

    And we’re the only ones who can tell our stories: The good, bad, and straight up crazy.

    Keep on keepin’ it real.

    (Your blog looks great.)
    Jennifer@GDWJ´s last blog post ..The Cry of a Common Loon, The Flight of a Common Woman

  39. says

    this is gonna sound crazy, but i cried when i saw your new blog look and read this post. i know…crazy. maybe it’s because i started today (i know, TMI). maybe it’s because i’m super emotionally lately anyway. or, maybe it’s because you’re just so dang inspiring. i felt so much of myself in this post. i’m a big ole wimp in real life and my blog has done the exact same thing for me as yours has done for you. i love the way your blog is set up…so simple, so easy to navigate, such a place for my soul to breathe….that’s EXACTLY what it is…every time i click on it. I love the way the photos are set up in each post and how each fits so well. can you teach me how to do this? ;) anyway, i’m so happy for this journey you’re (we’re) on. and, i’ve already started on my 31 days series writings…the Lord laid it on my heart (after reading so many different emails from women who are hurting) to write about the constantly “resolving” woman. we’re all saints who sin and i feel we tend to “work” on ourselves and miss the whole picture of who God really is and what His Grace really means. You’re comment in this post reminded me of this again…. :) blessings, cat moore

    • says

      Cat – your comment made me cry! It was this “We’re all saints who sin and i feel we tend to work on ourselves and miss the whole picture…”

      I love knowing women who understand that down to their bones. Yes.

      Thank you for your kind words about the blog – I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to hear you say them.

  40. says

    Hi Emily,

    I have really identified with your post. I have been writing since I was 16, primarily in journals. I never considered myself a writer, but love the written word and love reading. I just began my blog last month. And find that I am really enjoying it. It is as if I have finally discovered my art form. You see, I come from a family of artists (musicians, singers, painters). Both sides! And, I never felt I had anything to contribute until now. Writing has become a space for self-discovery and self-expression. It isn’t a chore, but a completely euphoric experience for me. Sounds weird, right?
    I especially liked your statement below:

    “Blogging has profoundly changed me. I felt like a shadow before I started writing here. For years like many of you, I wrote in journals. But journal writing is different. It wasn’t until I began to write things to be read by a community of people that I began to see myself. I am a mess. I am a contradiction. I am brave and also not.
    Working those things out in writing helps me to have peace with it rather than fight it so much. Thinking about my own contradictions in my head brings anxiety. But writing through them gives me courage. Yes, I am a mess. But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to offer.”

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    jana

  41. says

    I really love this post, and I can identify with all that you wrote here, the things that God has used writing and blogging to do for you . .. this is such a great reminder of the joys and benefits of writing and especially blogging. Sometimes I can let myself believe that it is just silly and why do I even do it . . . but your post reminds me that it is “something in my hands to offer.” amen.
    Jess´s last blog post ..Imagination and Community

  42. says

    I have a really hard time calling myself a writer. So when I saw this post I read it immediately. As fast as I could. I have not been writing formally for very long but is the way I translate my life into language I understand. I hope that you continue to write and if you’re interested I’d love if you would read some of my blog as well. Thanks so much for sharing your voice – Shannon

  43. Carolyn says

    I found your blog a few years ago, simply because you had painted your cabinets black and I was thinking about painting mine. I still remember your blog design at that time–it had simple, delicate black lines that wrapped around each post. It was beautiful, and it was strangely the reason I kept reading at first. Years later I am still here with you because you inspire, encourage, and console me in many ways. Thanks for giving to me through this blog.

    And now I’m wondering if your cabinets are still black. ;)

  44. says

    I am a brand-spankin’ new blogger. Thank you for writing this post. It encourages me to just BE in this new tippy-toe stepping out start of blogging. (My husband is an editor at Lifeway, and he has been pushing me for years to blog.) I am now, finally, listening to him. Thank you for putting into THESE words, what makes sense to my little brain. ~Angela

  45. says

    This is one of the most helpful things I’ve read about blogging-I’m working through what I want my blog to be and I think I needed to hear some of this. It’s good to be reminded that it’s ok to write where you are, knowing that someday, you’ll be somewhere else, writing that.

    So thanks!
    Kristi James´s last blog post ..tight quarters

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