No More Knocking Myself Out!

No More Knocking Myself Out!  Why I'm done trying to be a top blogger | RaisingArrows.net

When I started blogging there wasn’t such a thing as social media.

Yes, I’m a dinosaur in blog years.

I’ve sort of “grown up” with blogging.  I watched things change at the speed of the internet, and I’ve had to adjust how I do things to accommodate the ever-changing online world.  In the process, it sucked the joy right out of it.

When I started blogging, no one had Pinterest-friendly images.  When I started blogging, there was no right time of day to post to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  When I started blogging no one was trying to be better at blogging than the next guy (or gal).  Blogging was just writing, and most people happened upon your blog by accident.  If they stayed, it was because of your content, not because you spoke the loudest or the longest or because you were seen in all the right social media platforms.

I’m not against change.  And I’m definitely not against reaching out to people.  But I am against knocking myself out to do so.

So, I am done with the rat race to be a top blogger.

Social media is a great tool, but I am no longer going to bend over backward so Facebook will see my posts (which means it can’t contain any links or say any words like “blog”, “giveaway”, or “post”.)  I won’t be pinning my posts on Pinterest at the “right time” or begging Google to see my posts as important.  I won’t be stalking all the blogging gurus trying to figure out all the latest tips and tricks to make my blog bigger and better.

I just don’t care any more.

I’m ready to get back to writing for MY audience, not searching for someone else’s.  I’m ready to get back to the heart of blogging – sharing information meant to edify, encourage, endure.  Sharing my heart with my faithful readers and those who happen upon Raising Arrows and stay because they find a home here.

You’ll still see me around social media, but it will be on MY time.  And you can always get Raising Arrows in your inbox and read it on YOUR time.

God has some big things going on in our family, and I am excited to share the journey with you!  I am so thankful He brought me to the understanding that knocking myself out to be a top blogger wasn’t a part of this journey.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

Blogging Topics & Ideas {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Blog Topics & Ideas {Welcome Home Wednesday Homemaking Link Up on Raising Arrows}First of all, I would never try to talk you into writing a blog.  There is a lot of responsibility that comes with blogging, and none of it should be taken lightly.  If you are interested in blogging, or feel the Lord calling you toward it, please read my Christian Mom’s Guide to Blogging!

Christian Mom's Guide to Blogging

Today’s Welcome Home Wednesday is going to give you some ideas for what to blog about and how to make your blogging better.

First and foremost, if you decide to blog, know WHY you are doing it.  What journey has the Lord put you on that NEEDS to be shared with others.

For instance, Brandy from Cast Your Worries started writing to help other Christians combat worry.  She writes from experience.  She writes with heart.  (By the way, her post last week on A New Food Disorder was a very good read!)

When you write, think about who you want to reach.  Reach them in ways that are practical and helpful.

Consider a series like 31 Days of Organizing & Decluttering Your Home from Women with Intention.  This is often a GREAT way to motivate YOURSELF to get certain projects accomplished!

Or try a weekly spotlight on a topic like First Comes Love‘s My Daughter’s Modest Monday (which also happens to be the #1 clicked post from last week) or Yes, They’re All OursMarriage Monday.  This will give your blog consistency.  You know on Monday, you write on this topic, on Tuesday, you write on this topic, and so on and so forth.

Why not try branching out into the vlogging world (my autocorrect wants to make that say FLOGGING, not VLOGGING – some of you might feel they ARE the same thing! ;) )  Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents shared a video last week on how to make kefir.  The really great thing about video is that your audience gets to see you in your home environment, and hear your voice – like Stacy’s super fun Southern drawl – LOVE it!

No matter what types of posts you choose to write, there is one thing I would highly encourage you to do:  Have good photos and graphics.

Even without Pinterest being HUGE in the online world, beautiful photos and graphics can make or break a post.  Readers are visual and want to see what you are talking about, but they don’t want to look at yucky, dark, grainy photos or loud, busy graphics.

Years ago, I used Photoshop for my photos and graphics, but since then, I’ve found PicMonkey!  This online photo editing service is FREE and really easy to use!  However, I know I don’t use it to its full potential, so I was thrilled to see a brand new ebook come out to help you become a pro at creating amazing graphics!

Monkey See, Monkey Do PicMonkey Tutorial ebook!

 Monkey See, Monkey Do {aff link} is only $4.00 right now!
(offer ends 3/19)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

Now, it’s your turn! Link up as many as 3 posts from your blog and enjoy the other links left here!  {If reading via email, please click over to see the links and leave yours!}

Welcome Home Wednesdays
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.raisingarrows.net" title="Welcome Home Wednesdays"><img src="http://www.raisingarrows.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Welcome-Home-Button3.jpg" alt="Welcome Home Wednesdays" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

A Look Back at the Posts of 2013

A Look Back at the Posts of 2013 | RaisingArrows.netEvery year I do a look back post, but this year I almost forgot!  This post is particularly helpful to those who may have recently joined Raising Arrows, or those who are busy and might have missed a post here that would be of interest to them.  For me, it is a fun way to remember the year.

The highlight of January was the birth of this little guy:

creed sleeping 2 monsObviously, I took a lot of time off that month, but I did write a post on how we store our snow clothes, and talked candidly about why homeschool moms get burned out.

In February, I announced I was determined to get fit and healthy and lose weight!  I also answered a reader’s question about what to do when your family isn’t happy about a new baby, and another reader’s question on how to heal and handle the fear after losing a baby.  I also introduced you to our yummy Elvis biscuits (had them for Christmas breakfast this year!) and told you how to have a no-stress medieval feast in your homeschool.

In March, I told you how I had lost all my pregnancy weight, gave you tips on breastfeeding, did a whole series on using Technology in your homeschool, and played Chopped! with my family (this is what we did for New Year’s Eve this year!  We even invited another family to join us!).

In April, I shared our Whole Wheat Pancake Mix recipe and Apron Prayers as a way to stay focused on Christ all day.

Apron Prayers | RaisingArrows.net

I told you how I prepare precooked meals for when grandparents are caring for our children, and also dug deep into what actually makes a curriculum biblical.

In May, I gave you 12 Ways to Raise Strong Daughters, and shared with you my thoughts on “Quiet Time”.  I also posted a family favorite recipe – Asparagus Ragoo (ragout).

Homeschooling with a Newborn

In June, I did a series on Homeschooling with a Newborn.  I also shared our favorite cinnamon roll recipe (this recipe is quick and doubles as a roll recipe!), and how we have created a “Special Night” for each of our children.

In July, I whined about hitting a weight loss plateau.  I gave you an awesome homemade granola bar recipe and shared a checklist for teaching home management to your children.  We also started having our children do their own laundry (what a great thing that has been!)  I finally learned to bloom where I had landed, and I shared with you how to build a blog that reaches out.

In August, I shared with you one of the best home management tools I use – my At-A-Glance Schedule.  We started doing “Special School” time to get those extras in that are so important to heart-schooling your children.  I gave you a recipe for family-friendly jumbalaya and talked about how I felt being the lowest pre-pregnancy weight I’ve ever been.

In September, I shared how meal planning has become the backbone of our schedule and also how we change chores in our household (this is still a work in progress, by the way!).

Caramel Apple French Toast Casserole | RaisingArrows.net

I shared a recipe for yummy Caramel Apple French Toast Casserole and I also told you some of the foods I really do not like – I think I shocked a few people!  I ended the month with a post that was very difficult to write, but very necessary – The Selfish Side of Grief.

In October, I experimented a bit to make our caramel corn recipe healthy – and it worked!  I also had a little rant over Date Nights and a big rant over Burned Out Homemakers.  I started doing Google+ Hangouts with other homeschool moms and wrote a post about how other moms handle their toddler and preschoolers during school hours that incorporated one of those Hangouts.  I shared a craft we do every year in the Fall called a Blessing Tree and I did a vlog on being a consistent mother.

60 Pounds Gone + Favorite Trim Healthy Mama Tweaks & ResourcesIn November, I had a lot to say!  I rejoiced over 60 pounds being gone and shared some of my favorite Trim Healthy Mama tweaks and resources.  I also talked about what homeschooling looks like when you only have small children, and I shared some great affiliate ideas for bloggers.  I  told you about the Real Me and shared our Mother-Daughter journals.  I gave you Granny’s Homemade Dressing recipe, gave you tips for having a great Large Family Thanksgiving, and offered a free Thanksgiving service for your family.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, I even told you how to homeschool multiple ages with something we call Chain-Link Learning!  Phew!

And finally, in December (which seems light years away now!), I shared some Christmas outfits and ideas, our favorite Hot Punch recipe, and how to survive a large family Christmas.  I put together a home office for myself and I started offering a weekend newsletter to my email subscribers (you can sign up HERE!).  I shared our family’s Candlelight Christmas Eve Service with all of you, and I also told you what it is like to be a grieving mom during the holidays.

And here we are on the very first day of 2014, which happens to be my 6th born child’s 5th birthday!  When the clock struck midnight here, we said Happy New Year and sang Happy Birthday to our little guy who is now a “whole handful.”

micah running

Now, I must be going – I need to make our traditional New Year’s Kuka and Slumgullion Stew (recipe coming, I promise!) and celebrate with my family!  Have a blessed day everyone!

Just Walk It {why I’m not writing a New Year’s post}

Just Walk It {why I'm not writing a New Year's post} | RaisingArrows.netThis time of year bloggers write New Year’s posts.  They talk about what they are planning for the upcoming year.  They talk about their word of the year.  They “clean house” and move forward.

But this year, you won’t find a New Year’s post on my blog.

Now, don’t think for a moment I don’t like planning and decluttering and organizing and ringing in a new year.  I do!  But, this year God has me in limbo.  I can’t make any plans.

All I can do is walk.

I have been given just a little light on my path.  I walk one step and wait.  I walk another and wait.  I know eventually there will be more light on the path, but even then, it won’t be much.

But it will be enough.

This year, I’d encourage you to just walk it.  Make your plans, but don’t idolize them.  Be purposeful, make changes, clean and declutter, prepare and learn, but don’t get sidetracked by the little stuff along the way or the big picture you can’t see.

Let God be God.  Rest in Him.  Let Him light your path and then walk it.

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7

May your 2014 be filled with faith!

Just Walk It {why I'm not writing a New Year's post} | RaisingArrows.net

A Weekend Newsletter for My Subscribers!

There’s something new at Raising Arrows and it is just for my email subscribers!
(If you were already a subscriber by last Friday, you got a taste of it this past weekend!)

This week I’ve been working on tomorrow’s installment of a weekend newsletter and it has been so much fun!
Weekend Newsletter for Raising Arrows Subscribers!

See the cute little monkey?  He’s my MailChimp buddy.  Because of the number of subscribers here at Raising Arrows, I pay for email service so all of you get reliable emails from the site.  As part of that service I have the ability to create newsletters and send them out, but I wasn’t sure what that should look like until last week when I realized I wanted the newsletter to be a more personal place with a conversation feel to it plus a recap of the past week’s blog posts and some other things thrown in the mix.

So, if you are interested in joining the Raising Arrows subscriber list, all you have to do is sign up below.  You’ll get the weekend newsletter (as I am able) and a whole bunch of Subscriber Freebies as a THANK YOU for being a part of the conversation here at Raising Arrows!

Subscribe to Raising Arrows

* indicates required

Powered by MailChimp

And FYI, tomorrow’s post has our favorite cheese ball recipe in it – I’ll be making it tomorrow afternoon!

Mom’s Command Central {why I decided to create my own office space}

Mom's Command Central {why I decided to create my own office space} | RaisingArrows.net

It started with a meltdown.

Most of my good ideas start that way.

I was overwhelmed.  Beyond overwhelmed.  I couldn’t seem to put two thoughts together and I was getting nothing done.  All of my home chores were either not getting completed on time or being left undone entirely.  Many times this was happening because I couldn’t even remember what it was I was supposed to be doing.  And then there was my blog.  I had so much stacked up and digging out seemed impossible.

I felt completely incompetent.  How in the world did I get here?

I went to my husband, asking him to excuse the mess I was making and begging him to help me figure out what to do to regain control of the chaos.

His answer was to compartmentalize.

We all know I’m a list maker, but this sort of list-making is different.  This is how my executive-husband runs his office – lists that are specific to a certain task or area of his job.  He suggested I do the same and get my list under control by dividing it up into a more manageable grouping.  

After talking it through, I decided to divide between 2 lists -

Home & Blog

I decided against Offline and Online because the things that involve my blog online are very different from the things I do for our home online and vice-versa.  I also did not think I could handle more than 2 lists, so I took the two things that take up the vast majority of my brainpower and focused on separating them out.  (For you, this might look like Homeschool & Homemaking or Home Business & Family Life – you get the idea – and YOU  might even be able to handle more than 2 lists, unlike me!)

However, as I was talking through all of this with my husband, I began to realize that compartmentalizing into lists was not going to help me if I didn’t actually look at those lists throughout the day.  I had become notorious for making lists and LOSING lists.

I decided right then and there, I needed a Command Central.

For the 2 years we have lived here, I have been without a real landing place for all my stuff.  I had a crate of homeschool things by my chair, a pile of lists on the kitchen island, a desk in my bedroom I never used.

There really wasn’t any one good place for me to set up shop.  Our living room and kitchen are small, our dining room is a strange shape, and the one wall I could have a desk on doesn’t have an outlet.  The printer was in my bedroom (you know, on that desk I never use), but guess what else is in the bedroom…my little guy!  And we all know that baby’s nap time is prime to time to actually get things done…and printed off!

I felt a little doomed, but I knew I somehow had to pull this off because I needed to run this household effectively and efficiently and that wasn’t going to happen as long as my brain was strewn about the house on tiny bits of paper.

What I finally decided to do was carve out a bit of space in a corner of the living room next to my chair and partially hidden by the piano.  It was out of the way, but super convenient.
{affiliate links included}

Mom's Command Central (control the chaos) | RaisingArrows.net

I used an end table from my bedroom as a “desk”.  Here, I placed my printer and pens and my compartmentalized lists.  Underneath were school books and more paper.  In the crate beside it were homeschool materials and binders I use on a daily basis.  I bought a LapDesk (see it up against the wall?) and used that for sitting in my chair and typing on my laptop.  I keep the laptop on top of my printer and charge it right there as needed.

(And yes, that is a DOOR behind my chair.  We rarely use that door, so it made sense to put a chair in front of it.)

I had created an office space for myself.  It wasn’t fancy, and it sure didn’t look like an office, but it was in a location centralized and convenient location.  It gave me a landing place for all those things I needed in order to run this home of mine.

I have to realize that all good leaders have a Headquarters.

I manage a home.  I manage a blog.

This is my HQ.  This is my Command Central.  I do this because it makes me a better home manager, a better homeschool teacher, a better wife, a better mother.

Homemaking Tips & Inspiration Pinterest board - Amy Roberts

Here are some other Command Central ideas for moms from my Homemaking Tips & Inspiration Pinterest board:

Clipboards

Don’t have a desk?  Put everything on clipboards and hang on the wall!

cart from a changing table

Forget the bar!
Makeover an old changing table into a rolling desk you can roll out of the way!

wall folders

Files and chalkboard (or white board) all in one place!

Another way to compartmentalize

Another way to compartmentalize!

So, tell me…do you have a Command Central?  What are the things you HAVE to have there to keep your home in good running order?