What I’ve Been Up To

Hello, everybody! I’m back!

Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten who I am, since it’s been almost a year since I posted anything. The last time was my birthday year in review.

In the 11 months since then, I’ve been as busy as I was in my previous fake life. But in a good way this time. Not in the striving, exhaustion-driven way that was practically killing me. It’s been a strategic sort of busy and I have a very good reason for it.

That reason is why I had to step away from this blog for a time.

But enough with the hints. Let’s get down to business by updating you.

There’s quite a bit to catch you up on, some of it big and some not-so-big. I’ll start with the not-so big stuff, then I’ll hit you with the big news. I hope it’s worth your 11-month wait.

The Not-So-Big Stuff

First, I still live in Yakutsk, Russia, since I renewed my teaching contract for the current school year. And I’ll be here at least until the end of this academic year. As always, I’m waiting to hear from God on what He wants me to do when this school year is over.

Second, the 11 months you missed were active and fun but pretty tame, compared to what I usually get up to.

I marched in the usual May Day parade and went to yhyakh again, but didn’t perform this time. I did my first ever white nights photo shoot…

It was 10:30 pm and we had no artificial lights. Midnight sun is real, people.

I went to my first wedding in Russia…

Most fun I’ve had at a wedding.

I visited Armenia for the first time…

Cloud-shrouded Mt. Ararat – where Noah’s ark came to rest!!! – over my shoulder.

I hit up the Pacific Northwest with the inimitable Emma. Because what’s summer without her?

Of course, she’s perched on the edge. It’s what she does.

From Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, BC, we stayed in a tiny house (a real one, like on TV) and a gorgeous refinished attic; ate at all the best (affordable-ish) neighbourhood restaurants; hit up way too many book stores (but how could we not?); sampled lots of delicious komboucha; drank lots of really good coffee; went hiking and biking; and, as always, enjoyed being together for the time we had.

Then this past autumn, I went on a 31 km day hike with friends…

It took us about 11 hours to finish.

And I went dog sledding again when it got cold enough.

Dog sledding lunch stop

Of course, I’ve done other things. But those are the main ones.

The Big Stuff

So much for the not-so-big stuff.

What about the big stuff? There’s only one, and my life has been consumed by it over the past 11 months.

I Started A New Business

I sure did. Why? Because God has lead me into a new season of life as a writer entrepreneur.

I’ve always been an avid reader, and I thought that was the extent of my relationship with the written word. As it turns out, several of you guys were right: I’m a writer at heart.

Not only that, but I’m also a teacher at heart. I like to share my knowledge with others in a way that’s useful for them, which is what a teacher does. And I’ve learned that there’s more than one way to teach.

So God has laid a way on my heart to turn my writing and teaching into a ministry and a business.

Why I Had To Go Another Way

Truthfully, I wanted to transform this blog into my ministry. In fact, I spent most of 2018 doing all that I could towards that end.

I took a blogging course. Then I read everything I could get my hands on about launching a successful blog. I started learning how to turn a blog into an author platform. And I put my money where my mouth was; I paid for courses, material, advice and help.

But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the necessary traction. I was on the proverbial treadmill – running fast and hard, but getting nowhere.

So after about 8 months of frustration, overwhelm and no results, I decided to step back from the whole idea for a while.

I continued blogging here but I stopped all my other efforts and took some time to regroup. Meanwhile, the dream lived on in my heart, and I remained unclear about how to bring it to life.

Then in December 2018, through a series of events, God hit me with an idea. That idea lead to me trying something different. Which lead to me getting in touch with someone, who ended up becoming my business coach.

I didn’t reach out to her for that. But it was my best decision of 2019. I’m convinced that if I hadn’t made that decision, my dream would still be living in my heart.

A Fresh Start

The first thing my new business coach advised me to do was to start fresh. That is to say, start a new blog.

The reasons were simple and obvious, once she laid them out for me.

For where I envisioned going, a fresh start would be incomparably practical. Trying to get there with this blog would be fighting an uphill battle the entire way. I’m a fighter, but uphill didn’t sound like fun to me.

Not only that, but the message that was on my heart to deliver was totally different from the message and purpose of this blog. The two couldn’t successfully co-exist. If I tried, this blog would be schizophrenic in the extreme. No-one would be clear about what I was trying to say or accomplish.

Just as important, the voice with which my message needs to be delivered on my new blog is totally different from the voice of this blog. Again, I needed to avoid seeming schizophrenic.

Everything my coach said made perfect sense to me. And that was before she was even my coach. By the end of our first conversation, I knew that God had divinely orchestrated our meeting. So I followed His leading and jumped on her 1-on-1 coaching client list.

The first thing I did was take her advice.

I didn’t have the physical capacity to establish a new business and keep this blog going at the same time. So I did what I had to do and pumped the brakes. I brought everything to a screeching halt. Then I turned in a different direction.

I stepped back from this blog in order to establish a new one. So that I could start sharing the message God lay on my heart, with the women God lay on my heart.

And that’s how I’ve spent the last 10 months. I’ve been laying the foundation for this new ministry, business and season.

In With The New

Starting a new online business on the right foot is no joke. No wonder I was floundering before my coach came along! She stepped between me and the overwhelm that was chasing me. By keeping her eye on the next steps, she allowed me to concentrate on learning new skills and completing critical current steps.

Suddenly, the confusing tangle of my impossible dream became possible.

New writing and online business skills aren’t the only things I’ve been learning over the past 11 months. I’ve also been learning how to make the most of my time, so that I can balance my job and my passion.

That has meant being intentional and purposeful with my minutes. Many times, it has meant stepping away from social media, ignoring WhatsApp, and saying no to some social activities.

Basically, I dropped off the radar (well, for me, anyway) for the better part of a year. When I share the new blog with you, you’ll see why I had to make that decision.

What do I write about over there? As I do here, I write what I know and what I’ve learned. But I write it in such a way as to help and guide the women to whom God is calling me. So they can learn for themselves the truths that I stubbornly (and sometimes cluelessly!) had to learn the hard way. And I try to do it in a way that they can digest.

Back In With The Old

But even knowing that I had to start something new, I always intended to return here. This blog is precious to me.

It’s where I was first bitten by the writing bug. It’s where my rawest, most unflattering content about my own life, struggles and growth lives. This blog is where I first felt like maybe my writing could make a difference to others. And it’s where I first conceived of something bigger that can make a worldwide impact.

This is where God started showing me a glimmer of the biggest dream He’s given me to date.

Abandoning it felt wrong. I just couldn’t do it.

I’ve published almost 400 posts on this blog over the last 4 years. I don’t think I’ve run out of things to say. So perhaps I can still serve you here, even while I start building my new venture on the foundation God had me preparing this past year. We’ll see.

With that in mind, I’ll try my best to be back here about once a month, writing a roundup post of what God has been doing in my life over the previous weeks. If you’ve subscribed to this blog, you’ll receive a notification whenever I post something new. If you haven’t please subscribe now!

What Now?

So, you’re probably dying to check out the new blog, right? I’m still setting up a few essentials, but I promise to share it with you in a few weeks.

For now though, I have a couple of things I need to test that I’d love some help with. If you’d like to participate, please comment below and I’ll be in touch with you directly to let you know how you can help. Sorry, men. I know you probably want to help, too. But I need the ladies for this one.

In the meantime, thanks for patiently waiting to hear from me again. I hope you’re as excited as I am about the future!

I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.

Isaiah 43:19 (NIRV)

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