Laudable Linkage

Here are a few interesting reads found on the web lately:

Next in the Sexual Revolution: Children. HT to Proclaim and Defend. “They claim children are sexual beings too and who are we to deny a consenting child that right?” Scary and appalling.

Matthew 18 is Not Instructive for Book Reviews, But Much of the New Testament Is, HT to Challies. “‘Did you contact the author privately before you posted the review?’ . . . The question invokes the well-known, but oft-misunderstood, church discipline passage in Matthew 18:15-20.”

The Miracle That Can Happen When You’re Tired. “They were tired. They were overworked. They were hungry. Which just so happens to be the perfect time for God to display His power.”

Who Says Social Media Can’t Make You Wise? HT to True Woman. “Ten years of social media has shown me the wisdom of being slow to speak, how comparison kills joy, how in-person friendship knows no substitute. But it has also taught me the sweetness of the well-timed word of encouragement, of shared celebrations and shared losses. Used wisely, a virtual platform can actually minister. For those indwelt by the Spirit, wisdom can be unearthed from even such common soil as social media.”

14 Stunning Illustrations That Perfectly Capture the Introverts Love of Books, HT to Linda

The $8,000 Mistake All Bloggers Should Beware. I forget where I saw this one. “Copyright laws have created and enabled an industry of predatory lawyers – also known as copyright trolls. These attorneys take advantage of photographers and artists who make their images available online, as well as the bloggers who don’t know any better and post the wrong content to their sites.” Apparently they don’t have to warn you first and give you a chance to take it down. We all know (or should) that just because a photo is on the Internet doesn’t mean we can use it. But apparently some of the instances we thought were ok, like a link back to the original site, don’t justify the use of the photo.

You’re Using a Cutting Board Incorrectly, HT to Challies. I never knew! But it makes sense!

And, finally, someone on Facebook posted this video of a baby trying chocolate milk for the first time. Adorable!

Happy Saturday!

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Laudable Linkage

Just a few good reads to share today:

Read Your Bible to Fight Unbelief, HT to Challies. “We stop reading it when, in our unbelief, we start living as if we were autonomous and knew well how to do this thing called life without any direction from the Holy Spirit.”

Why Paul’s Messy Churches Give Us Hope.

Walking Saints Home, HT to Challies, on “the calling to walk with men and women to the end of their earthly lives.”

Why You Shouldn’t Stop Blogging (or Why You Should Consider Starting)

And, finally, this was floating around Facebook a while back. It always cracks me up:

Happy Saturday!

Results of Your Blogging Preferences Poll

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When I first started blogging, blogs were simple with a feel of neighbors visiting over the fence. In the twelve years since then, bloggers have been urged to find their niche and develop their platforms. Certain features became musts. I had mixed emotions about some of the advice given in “how to have a successful blog” articles, so I decided to ask my readers about their own preferences in a poll. My friend Lou Ann has conducted polls with Survey Monkey a few times, so I asked her about them and then took the plunge.

I had originally planned to announce the poll on my blog, give my own readers a couple of days to have first crack at it, and then share the poll on social media. However, I decided not to do the latter for two reasons. First, I wanted the answers to just reflect readers’ preferences. I didn’t want strangers to the blog to filter in what they did or what they thought should be done. Secondly, Survey Monkey’s free plan only allows for 100 responses. I wasn’t sure what to do if I should happen to get more than 100, and I didn’t want people to get angry or upset if they couldn’t respond. In retrospect, I realize I could have said upfront that only the first 100 responses would be taken.

The poll received 51 responses in a week’s time. I’ll share the questions, results, and a few of my thoughts. The first number is the people who chose that particular answer; the second number is the percentage that answer received among total responses.

Question 1: Is it important to you that bloggers you read follow a consistent schedule?

  • Yes (1; 2%)
  • Somewhat, but it’s not the most important factor (34; 68%)
  • No (15; 30%)

I did not take the poll myself, but my answer would have been the second response. All kinds of blogging advice articles talk about setting and maintaining a schedule so readers know what to expect, but that is not all that important to me as a reader. I enjoy the rhythm of blogs who do follow a schedule or routine, but I also enjoy many with no discernible schedule.

Question 2: How do you feel about pop-up notices asking you to subscribe or offering you free booklets, printables, prayer guides, etc.?

  • I like them. They make it easy to respond. (1; 1.96%)
  • I’m ambivalent about them (3; 5.88%)
  • Hate them (23; 45.10 %)
  • I don’t mind them, but I don’t like for them to pop up the first few seconds I’m on the site or right in the middle of what I am reading. (24; 47.06%)

My answer would have been #3. I don’t care for pop-ups of any kind, but I especially dislike when they appear the first few seconds after I open the site or they block the post I came there to read. It’s almost funny to see an eager “Hey, do you want to subscribe to my blog?” pop-up when I just got there and I don’t even know anything about the blog yet. And it’s irritating when a pop-up blocks the content and has to be clicked off in some way before I can continue reading. When someone comes to our site from a link somewhere else, don’t we want them to be able to read the post they came there for first? And if they like that, they may then decide they want more. Pop-ups are less objectionable to me if they come up on the side or in a corner after several seconds, but I’d rather have offers to subscribe or sign up for free stuff at the end of a post, on a sidebar, across a top banner, etc., rather than a pop-up.

Question 3: How do you prefer for bloggers to respond to your comments?

  • I don’t expect a reply at all (18; 35.29%)
  • A response in the comments (28; 54.90%)
  • A personal email reply (2; 3.92%)
  • A visit to my blog (3; 5.88%)
  • Other (0)

This is something I have long wondered about, and I’m sorry that I have been hit-and-miss in replying. I try generally to visit the blog of everyone who comments and leave at least one comment there, but I have missed that sometimes. I’ll try to work on responding in the comments from now on as well as visiting you as well.

Question 4: How often does your ideal blogger post?

  • Every day (2; 4%)
  • 2-4 times a week (34; 68%)
  • Once a week (11; 22%)
  • Once or twice a month (3; 6%)

Someone emailed me re this question that content was more important than frequency, and I agree. What one writes is a bigger factor than how often. If a blogger writes really good stuff, I’ll read it however often they post. But my answer would have been #2. If every blogger I read posted every day, I’d only be able to read a handful of blogs. There are only a couple I follow that do post every day, and I admit I only scan some of their posts. I follow a couple of authors who post very infrequently, and that’s fine: I’d rather they spend their time on their next book. So it depends on the blog, the blogger, and the available time any given week, but it looks like a few posts a week is the clear preference here.

Question 5: How do you feel about “tweetables,” lines in a blog post designed for you to click on to post directly to Twitter?

  • I like them: they make it easy to support the blogger and share the love. (2; 3.92%)
  • I don’t care about them one way or the other. (35; 68.63%)
  • I hate them: they seem pretentious and clutter the blog. (14; 27.45%)

I admit, the first few times I saw these, I thought they were pretentious. But then I saw a commenter ask one blogger for them because it was an easy way to tweet the blog post. I know a number of bloggers now who support each other in that way, promoting each other’s blogs on social media. For monetized blogs or authors or speakers using their blogs as platforms, the more observable blog traffic, the better chance they’ll have with sponsors or publishers. The situation in publishing these days unfortunately requires an author to be somewhat self-promotional. So I understand them more now, but at this point I am not comfortable with using them myself. I have little buttons at the bottom of each post where one can share to social media if desired, and I think each one automatically puts the title of the post in when shared. Thank you to those of you who do that!

Question 6: Do you sign up for newsletters from blogs that offer them?

  • Yes. I like reading more from the bloggers I follow (2; 3.92%)
  • I have for a couple of bloggers, but not everyone. (24; 47.06%)
  • No. I have all I can do just to read blog posts. (25; 49.02%)

The few times I did sign up for a blogger’s newsletter, I unsubscribed after a while, because they were mostly an additional post and a list of their posts on the blog over the last month, which I had already seen. I get a few author newsletters to keep up with when they have something new coming out, but they either don’t have blogs or I don’t read them, so I guess for me it’s either/or but not both.

Question 7: If a blogger is writing a lot on one topic, do you prefer one long post or several shorter posts?

  • One long post so all the information is in one place. (9; 17.65%)
  • Several shorter posts in a series so I can take it in a little at a time. (22; 43.14%)
  • No preference (20; 39.22%)

So it looks like a series of shorter posts wins out. 🙂 I have mixed emotions: I have seen some blog series where I felt like I was being baited to keep coming back, and if I want to link back to the series for future reference or to share it with others, it’s nice to have just one link for that. But other times it is easier to take in a little at a time in shorter posts, and sometimes there’s just way too much information for one post.

Question 8: Do you listen to blogger podcasts?

  • Yes (1; 1.96%)
  • A few (14; 27.45%)
  • No (36; 70.59%)

Usually if I am listening to anything, it’s an audiobook or music. I’ve seen people mention a few podcasts that sound tempting, but so far I haven’t gotten into them. But I know some people love them.

Question 9: How do you prefer to follow the blogs you read?

  • Email (19; 37.25%)
  • Facebook (7, 13.73%)
  • Blog aggregator like Feedly or Bloglovin’ (9; 17.65%)
  • Other (16; 31.37%)

I should have put a comment box with “Other” to find out what other ways there are to follow blogs. Besides just remembering where it is and checking back with it periodically, the only other option I can think of is newsletters.

Question 10: What posts do you like most here at Stray Thoughts?

  • Personal and family info. (1; 2%)
  • Friday’s Fave Fives (16; 32%)
  • Devotions/Biblically based posts (4; 8%)
  • Book reviews (13; 26%)
  • Laudable linkage (5; 10%)
  • Rambling “stray thoughts” (4; 8%)
  • Other (7; 14%)

Some of you commented that you wished you had been able to choose more than one answer. I apologize: I wanted to configure it that way but I couldn’t figure out how. So in one sense these numbers aren’t totally accurate, because many of you commented that you liked several of the options. But I guess they reflect “If you had to choose one, which would you choose.” 🙂 One commented that they appreciated that there were different categories. That was gratifying to me, because I have wondered if I should narrow the blog down to one focus or niche, though I have always like the hodgepodge aspect of it.

Thank you so much for your sweet, kind comments on this last question! They touched my heart. When I started blogging, of course I hoped for readers – otherwise I would have just started a journal. And I appreciated readers all along, but you have come to mean so much to me. When you share that something I have written touched or ministered to you in some way, it encourages me that God can use me tucked away here at my desk.

One reader commented that though we’re different in many ways, we have much in common because of Christ. I have so enjoyed that bond we share together. Some of you have become dear friends; I’ve even met a couple in person! Some of you have enlarged my horizons, encouraged me, convicted me, and helped me grow. Thank you! I love and appreciate you!

And thank you for taking the time to respond to this poll. If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them.

One quick little unsolicited plug for Survey Monkey: they allow for 10 questions and 100 responses on their free plan. They were easy to use, even though I didn’t understand quite everything. They have other features that can be unlocked with a paid plan. In my short search, I did not see any other free survey plan that allowed for more than one question. This was a learning experience for me: I’ve thought of ways I could have phrased questions better. I had more than 10 questions I wanted to ask and came up with a few more, so, who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a part 2 poll sometime.

Laudable Linkage

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to share the interesting reads I’ve come across, so I have quite a list accumulated.

Love Is More Than a Choice.

How I Process the Moral Failures of My Historical Heroes. I’ve been pondering this for some time, with the thought of possibly writing a post about it, so I was glad to see some thoughts very similar to my own.

Pray Them Home: Three Prayers to Pray for Prodigal Children.

The Father Who Eliminates Shame.

Ecumenical vs. Evangelical, HT to Challies. A good, concise summary of the history and the issues involved.

The Not So Simple Life. “No matter where you land on this simplicity spectrum, all of these endeavors don’t satisfy the peace we hope to gain from the ‘simple life’…Even simplification is a vain pursuit when it takes up so much room in our minds and our hearts.”

Don’t Take This Personally. “We each cast ourselves as the star (and director and producer) in our own movie. All our life’s plots revolve around us. And all the people in our relationships are supporting actors. But here’s the catch: The supporting actors in our movies are actually busy starring in their own movies.”

Dear Girl: Please Don’t Marry Him. “Your fear of breaking off the relationship should be obliterated by the fear of making a foolish marital choice which is far, far worse.” I don’t know anything about this author, but thought this was a good article.

Teens Who Choose Life in Unplanned Pregnancies Need Support and Respect, Not Shame, HT to Challies. Being pro-life is not just a matter of being anti-abortion.

The Art of Days. Seeing beauty in the everyday tasks.

Let Your Kids In On Your Ministry.

Desire, Choice, Consequence: Building Character Through Stories, HT to Story Warren.

Member of the Family.

As You Grow, So Should Your Dresses.

Is the ESV Literal and the NIV Gender Neutral? HT to Challies. Very little, if any, translation from one language to another is literally word for word the same, due to differences in sentence construction, words for which there are no equals, etc.

6 Keys to Help You Be the Boss of Your Blog.

The Numbers Trap, HT to True Woman.

Is Screen Time the Enemy of Reading? I almost didn’t read this, figuring I knew where it was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised.

To a Schoolgirl in America: Writing Advice From C. S. Lewis.

Free ebooks, HT to Worthwhile Books.

I saw this on a friend of a friend’s Facebook, and I don’t know who originated it, but I think it’s great. The OT is so much more than moralistic stories.

What the Bible's About

(Links do not imply 100% endorsement of site or author.)

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Laudable Linkage

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Here’s a short but profitable list of reads discovered this week:

Can We Really Be Free From Fear? HT to nikkipolani. “The secret to our emancipation from enslavement to our excessive fears is a fear transfer. We need to stop fearing other things more than Jesus.” “For the Christian, every storm serves the Lord Jesus and demonstrates some aspect of his sovereign power.”

Domestic Abuse: A Victim’s Story. This is far more common than realized, in homes where you’d least expect it. If you need help or know someone who does, or suspect someone does, please read this.

Seven Lies We Tell Unmarried Women, HT to True Woman.

Speak Life: How to Deal When Your Children Fight.

Royalty-free images and copyright violations. This was from a Facebook post about a blogger who had gotten in trouble for using a photo she found on the Internet without permission. This article was linked and gives clear definitions about the different kinds of licenses, sources for free photos, etc.

5 Kid-friendly Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day, HT to The Story Warren.

Speaking of Memorial Day, Laura shared some great ways to celebrate as well and included this helpful graphic:

Happy Saturday!

 

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Laudable Linkage

Before I get to another installment of my bimonthly roundup of recent noteworthy reads on the Web, I wanted to mention Write31Days. The idea is to choose a topic that you can blog about for the 31 days of October. I’ve participated the last few years with 31 Days of Missionary Stories, 31 Days of Inspirational Biographies, and 31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot. I’m still undecided about this year – and October 1 is only a week away! It is a lot of work, and I’m a little afraid of over-burdening readers with so many posts. But I enjoyed and benefited from it before and received positive feedback. So I am still praying about it. One topic foremost in my mind was one I was actually thinking about compiling into a book, and I thought doing it for Write31Days might be a good precursor for that. Then I thought – why would anyone buy a book if the info. is here already. 🙂 So I am still thinking and praying. At any rate, I wanted to let you all know about it in case you might want to participate as well. This year’s Write31Days page gives you the guidelines, a list of categories, links back to previous topics, etc.

On to this week’s links:

Is the Bible Foundation to Christianity? (Short answer: Yes! But here are good reasons why.)

Understanding your Bible—The Big Picture View.

What God Does With Your Sin.

Find a Friend to Wound You.

The Beginner’s Guide to Conflict Resolution.

A Secret to Parenting that No One Tells You: The Strength is in the Struggle.

5 Practical Guidelines for Reading the Old Testament Laws. This is probably the hardest section of the Bible to read – maybe after the genealogies – but these help put them in perspective.

Some Things That Have Helped Me in My Struggle With Anxiety.

Feed My Sheep. I wish I had thought more like this when my mother-in-law was in assisted living and a nursing home.

Christians, Cribs, and Co-Sleeping. I’m linking to this not for the discussion about where babies should sleep, but for how she applies truths here to others areas of parenting and faith and practice. There are fundamentals and then there are secondary issues, and on the latter we need to give each other grace to be different.

Beautiful Books and A Beautiful Book List.

And a couple of videos to give you a smile: an adorable three year old and her dad singing “At Last I See the Light” from Tangled.

And this:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to share noteworthy reads recently found around the Web. Hope you’ll find some of them interesting as well.

How the Lonely, Invisible, and Unnoticed Can Glorify God.

Taking the Risk With Christian Community.

Ten Reasons Why the Church Gathers.

Don’t Always Follow Your Conscience.

The Bare Essentials: What I Tell My Daughters About Modesty.

The Story of a Male-identifying Little Girl Who Didn’t Transition. “When we begin to tell boys that they must act ‘this’ way, and that girls should act ‘that’ way, and that if they don’t, they are transgender;  we put children in these tiny boxes that create confusion, frustration, and sometimes, lifelong psychological and emotional damage.”

Me, the Lord, Pizza, and Celiac Disease.

A Call For Plodding Bloggers.

The Backside Blessings of Blogging.

Brown Sugar Toast, a new-to-me blog by Christa Threlfall, has been running a series titled Dwelling Richly: An Interview Series on Studying the Bible in which she interviews various women about their time with the Word of God. I’ve just come into it recently, but I have enjoyed catching up with a few from women I know (Claudia Barba) or know of (Mardi Collier, Pat Berg, Jen Wilkin) as well as others I don’t know.

Alicia Reagan, the friend of a friend, shared this video of the new movie “Me Before You,” the trailer of which looks pretty cute, but the ending is horrible and a step backwards for disabled people. Sherry discussed the book here.

And finally, I thought this was really cute: a day in the life of a panda zookeeper. I guess it doesn’t pay to rake leaves with pandas around. 🙂 Love how roly-poly they are.

Laudable Linkage

Unfortunately Delicious.com, where I have been saving links for 8-10 years now, has been down for a week or two now. I hope it gets fixed soon – I would hate to think I’d lost all those, especially some I have returned to multiple times. It may be time to investigate Evernote or a different source. What do you use to save links you want to remember and return to?

Anyway – for now I have just been making a list of them. As you might expect, with Mother’s Day on Sunday, there have been a lot of posts relating to mothers this week.

To My Friends Who Still Have Their Mothers.

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard.

Don’t Blink.

Joy at Rejoicing in the Present has been running a series on moms in different situations. The two that stood out to me were A Letter to the Mommy-Heart Whose Dream Didn’t Come True and A Letter to Moms With Physical Limitations, but there are also posts about losing a child and having special needs children.

Coping With Verbal Abuse when a mom has Alzheimer’s.

And a couple not relating to mothers directly:

5 Question Checklist for Blog Commenting.

40 Most Valuable Toys From Your Childhood.

Susan at Girls In White Dresses is hosting a giveaway for an ESV Family Devotional Bible.

And finally, this cracked me up:

Happy Saturday!

My favorite posts of the year

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Around this time of year, I like to skim back through the year’s old posts to find the ones I especially want to remember. I love the book reviews, weekly recounting of blessings in the Friday Fave Fives, the occasional meme or “stray thoughts” post, but I especially like to look over the posts where I thought through an issue by writing.

Before I did that, though, I received an e-mail from WordPress with some of my “year in review” stats. According to those stats, my most often read post is once again Coping When Husband Is Away from 2011. I had no idea when I wrote that it would hit such a nerve, and while I can’t say I liked the circumstances discussed there, I am glad God is using it to help other women in the same boat.

An odd thing, though, is that none of the top ten viewed posts according to my stats were posts from this year. In fact, the top two written this year, my review of Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan and Elisabeth Elliot In Heaven were way, way down the list of top viewed posts for the year. I don’t know what to make of that. 🙂

Anyway – on to this year’s posts:

January:

Are We Responsible For God’s Reputation?

February:

The Quiet Person in the Small Group.

Finding Time to Read.

How Not to Become An Old Biddy.

March:

“Special” Music in the Church.

Why Listen to Audiobooks?

Is It Nice to Call Someone a False Prophet or a False Teacher?

April:

Praying for the Lost Scripturally.

A very special birthday.

Camouflaging Dirt.

When the Message Isn’t For Me.

May:

Finding Time to Read the Bible.

Spots and Wrinkles.

Dealing With Caregiver Resentment and A Few More Thoughts on Caregiver Resentment.

June:

Is it more important to be nice or to be right?

Elisabeth Elliot In Heaven.

Not a long life, but a full one.

July:

Upcoming surgery is not a favorite because of the surgery or the post, but because of your sweet comments after I bared my heart over several concerns.

Exceeding Abundantly, But Unseen.

It’s ok to say it hurts.

Fallow Hearts.

August: None. Must not have done any deep thinking that month. 🙂 Actually, I was recovering from a procedure at the beginning of the month, then my son was in town for a week later in the month, so I was otherwise occupied.

September:

Middle Child and Other Syndromes.

October was mostly 31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot.

November:

Help For Changing Thought Patterns.

From Depletion to Abundance.

Am I Doing Any Good?

December: Another busy month.

So that’s it for this year! It’s so hard to believe 2015 is about to come to an end. Thank you for reading and for making the blogging experience so enjoyable!

 

Laudable Linkage

It has been quite a while since I have been able to do one of these, but here are some posts I’ve found interesting the last few weeks. Maybe you’ll enjoy one or two of them as well:

Planned Parenthood: Four Ways to Respond.

Explaining the Problem Does Not Eliminate the Problem.

Gentle Selfishness, HT to Challies. Guilty.

How We Do Family Devotions.

Are You Believing This Lie About Love?

Getting Acquainted With God.

The Sunday Worship Killer.

A Right Theology of Fear (and Why You Need It.)

A few on mothering:

Talking to Your Kids About Same-Sex Marriage.

The Beginning of the Sacrifice of motherhood.

How Much Should a Mom Minster Outside the Home?

Hidden. God has a purpose in “hidden years.”

A few on online communication:

How Should Christians Comment Online?

An Embarrassing Week For Christians Sharing Fake News. Yes! Confirm before you share.

Why I Removed Extremely Effective Pop-ups From My Web Site. Yes! Wish everyone would do this!

What Makes Readers Lose Interest in a Blog?

Four Easy Ways to Create Quote Graphics for Facebook, Pinterest, and Your Blog. Do you use any of these, or any others? I’ve used Quozio a few times.

21 Self-Editing Secrets That Can Supercharge Your Manuscript.

In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry For Lions. HT to Challies. A different and refreshing perspective on the Cecil the Lion story.

Someone shared this on Facebook:

Spurgeon - Faith

Amen! Happy Saturday!