Monday, November 26, 2007

Blogs are Like Notebooks

When artist Gail Nadeau cared for her mother (who was descending into dementia), Gail kept a notebook. She drew and painted and wrote. She molded something from the experience even as the experience itself shaped her.

She used the simple power of the notebook, to accept and process life's realities.

Like Gail, I keep notebooks. I have a general one, for the miscellaneous pieces of my life. I have one just for my experience in the outdoor Secret Place. I have a purple prayer notebook that could get more use.

And then I have blogs. Approximately three of them (I'll explain this number sometime soon, for those of you who might contend otherwise.)

Three blogs. Seedlings. Green Inventions Central, on stewardship and health. And now a new one, that I hope will get more use than the traditional notebook sitting on my counter... Love Notes to Yahweh, a blog on prayer and devotion.

When I broke the news to my spouse, about the new blog, he shook his head in mock woe. "You're addicted."

"No," I said. "Blogs are like notebooks."

It is true that blogs can be addictive. But blogs can also be notebooks. Places to accept and process life's realities, in community.

(Side note on this... I currently have the comments turned on at Love Notes to Yahweh, but I'm struggling with the question of whether this is the best choice— both because of the blog's content and time management issues. Creative recommendations, Anyone?)

The Notebook Series photo by Gail Nadeau. Used (again) by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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Blogger The Gyrovague said...

I would keep the blog comments closed, much as Kristen does over at Lattes and Rainy Days. She has a second blog that is just her and her experiences as she experiences Christ and his bride. The question then becomes though, why put it in a blog?

12:54 PM  
Anonymous miriam said...

L.L, I noticed your Love Notes blog on your side bar the other day, and enjoyed visiting there. I almost left a comment, but somehow it felt like a holy and intimate space, so I decided against it. (Not that it would be wrong for someone else to comment.) :)

You could close the comments, as gyrovague suggested, and I feel like it would not be incongruous to keep it as a public blog. I'm always thankful for tangible examples in how to live a life of prayer and how to craft prayer, and you have that to offer, whether or not you interact with the readers.

The other thing is that if you left the comments open, you don't have to respond to all the comments (if any) - I know this is probably a stretch for you because you are a great conversationalist. I visit numerous blogs in which the authors rarely respond to comments. And that's OK, really. :) Not all blogs have to be for conversation.

I so admire blog authors like you who have it within them to respond graciously and thoughtfully to each comment... it took me a while with my own blog to find peace with the idea that I didn't *have* to reply to all the comments. As in real life, some of us are just better at chatting than others, I think. :) And for you, who could do lots of "talking", it's alright to choose silence without feeling like you're slighting anyone. Be free.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

There's always the option that you are addicted and blogs are like notebooks...

I also suggest you keep the blog comments closed at your Love Notes blog. As Miriam said, it seems like a holy, private place between you and God.

Peace, Kim

4:13 PM  
Blogger Real Live Preacher said...

The blog has been my only notebook, which is probably not good. Thanks for your writing. I'm trying to get on top of a lot of things to be more regular about reading it.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

Everyone's comments so far have been so insightful, thoughtful, kind! I love the spirit here.

I don't have an opinion on the comments open or closed thing. I do know that I, too, felt like reading but not commenting when I visited (as I shared with you before), but that's not to say I don't think I would ever have something to say or that others shouldn't have the option.

Perhaps it felt strange to consider commenting because commenting on someone's prayer seems like such an odd thing to do, even in real life -- unless, of course, they are praying directly for a need you have and you respond immediately afterward to say something like, "Thank you so much. That really lifted my spirit. It was exactly what I needed to be prayed with for." (Sloppy locution there at the end of that last sentence!)

5:50 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

No advice on the comments thing, but I absolutely love the thoughts over on the other blog. Really. And I also felt like it would be wrong to comment; an invasion of sorts.

But reading it? Oh, the longing it stirs up in my own soul to sit down and just be with my creator. Thank you for this.

6:49 PM  
Blogger kevinraysinclair said...

Thanks for dropping by! He did read it before he left. He actually just finished the AT this past week. We are all excited about his return to North Carolina. Take care!

9:13 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

Ah yes. Blogs are like notebooks!! For me, that's exactly what "Cloud..." is. Pragmatically speaking, I can type much faster than I can write; creatively speaking, it is beneficial to find other creative ways to format & express your Love Notes, these notebook prayers & musings. For me, keeping it in a blog keeps me accountable to making a record of the journey (so I don't get so far down the path, I cannot remember where I started) & of sharing it with those who might be interested. After glimpsing your Love Notes, I am very interested & am glad you are putting it out there.

And the no comments thing can be a way of guarding what is precious to you ... letting it out there to be a blessing others who choose to peer through the windows, but at the same time, keeping it very much within your heart, something between you & Yahweh. I can see how it might seem an intrusion to comment on someone's prayer, spiritual journey, or direct personal experience with God.

I welcome another blog from you, & welcome your decision to keep comments open or closed.

Be blessed, & thank you!

10:47 PM  
Blogger Nikki (and sometimes Daniel) said...

I'm glad you asked... and I apologize for the length of my reply.

I discovered your Love Notes blog shortly after it launched, and I debated responding, especially to the Breath Prayer entry, because I have a similar prayer practice - in fact, my breath prayer is the only prayer discipline I have managed to maintain with any regularity over the past several years. I use what is known as the Jesus Prayer - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I pray it quietly throughout the day on inhales and exhales. I now even pray that prayer in my more troubled dreams and find that the dreams dissipate and leave me in peace. That's powerful, and it excites me, and I want to share it.

In the end, I opted against commenting on your blog, but not for reasons one might think. For me, it was about exercising restraint -- about not allowing someone else's work and prayer to somehow become about me. Most of us who blog and comment do so because we are, at heart, communicators. Some manage to do so less selfishly than others. I am trying to learn that some things I think and feel and experience are better left unwritten.

I admire your willingness to journal so intimately in such a public way. It's not something I have been willing to do myself, except as an occasional exercise in my regular blog. Probably that's because I am so prideful that I cannot see how, given my heart and struggles, such an exercise could be accomplished in humility, and prayer just should be humble if it can be, I think. I don't journal often about my spiritual life as a result. I may be deluded. Perhaps opening up my deeper self to scrutiny would be the best way to teach me humility. I don't know... it's just where my heart resides at present.

I do know, however, that I come from a tradition where much prayer is corporate - we lift together the private intentions of our hearts in words we can sing and speak together. The candles you have on the top of the page are the sort of candles one finds in every almost every Orthodox church. When one enters, one often takes a beeswax candle or two, lighting them and placing them in sand before an icon or in a holder like the one in the photo -- always with a prayer, and those prayers are as many and varied as the hands that light and place the candles. Those candles burn, beacons of each individual intention, while the whole church prays and sings in one voice and all of our prayers rise symbolically in the incense that wafts heavenward.

Perhaps your blog is your candle. It's your quiet intention in the midst of our incense cloud of prayers. The beauty of the comments that are in the right spirit is that they become other candles in the holder -- the whispered prayers others leave behind when they approach the quiet place you have created. They allow the blog itself to be less about you and your private experience, and more about the ways our experiences of the Holy overlap.

Really, it's a matter of what you want. I think what you have created is lovely and devotional and probably impacts others in beautiful ways that you cannot imagine either way. You've chosen to share it... but whether it becomes a place of reflection for others or a single light in the darkness is up to you. I think there is great value in both.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Shona Cole said...

you have such great conversations here!
if I could type faster or could formulate my thoughts in linear form better I would join in so much more!

L.L., I admire your ability to write well and coherently.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous spaghettipie said...

I'm addicted to notebooks, too (and blogs for that matter.)

I voice similar sentiments regarding feeling awkward about leaving comments on the other blog. It would be the same way as if you were praying in a chapel and had someone come up to you and say, "Hey, I liked your prayer."

To leave the comments open or closed depends on what you want to do with it. I could envision that blog becoming like a prayer chapel. I can come in, listen to others praying, sometimes praying myself silently, or if allowed, sometimes "out loud." Comments are reserved for additional prayers prayed in response to yours. Not comments veiled as prayers, like "Thank you, God for the beautiful prayer LL prayed . . ." If no one feels led to add a prayer, then no comments are left. But if your post inspires them to also pray, a sort of communal prayer would result.

Maybe you could turn the approval feature on before posting prayers (although that's more work for you.) People seem to be good at following your "house rules" so I think it could work if that's what you wanted it to become. Just a thought if you wanted to allow for a response.

If you want it to be strictly personal, a window in to your soul -for viewing only- then leave them closed.

Regardless of what you decide, thanks for sharing with us. Your prayers are encouraging to me.

3:36 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

i went and visited over at your other blogg, Love Notes to Yahweh, and the colour picked up from the wonderful photo of the candles is very pretty. so, at first sight of the blog, it was a very nice place to be. i can not say enough about your gift of expression through your writing. lovely.

also, i think that in time you will know the answer to what to do on the question of comments.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Your love notes to Yahweh looks so intriguing and so interesting. I can't wait to get on there and spend some time reading.

Yes, you seem to be more balanced in your blogging; I mean you don't necessarily blog everyday- though three blogs!

But they really do kind of complement each other, on the surface to me.

On just looking at your love notes blog, I think it wouldn't hurt to close the comments. I'm not sure on that one, but it does seem more like a journal you're sharing.

11:36 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

Laura, Love Notes is truly an intimate look into your heart and life.

Saying, "thank you," doesn't begin to show enough gratitude for allowing us to come so near to you that we breathe in the intoxicating fragrance of Christ.

Beautiful, my friend. I am deeply moved.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

LL -- I love the Love Notes, also felt hesitant to comment there, but desperately wanted you to leave the comments on in case the Lord himself might visit you there (I know, God doesn't blog, but I can hope!) In fact, that actually might be a good reason to turn the comments off, to give us all a silent space following prayer to listen and not respond. To see if Yahweh will respond, not on the blog, but in our hearts. Sweet answers to your prayers in the lives of all those who love you.

7:43 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Hi, All.

I'm just stopping in to say that I'm listening to this conversation with great interest, respect, and gratitude.

When it seems to come to conclusion, I'm going to try to process all of it and see where it takes me. In the meantime, I've been alternately amused (Kim!), comforted, encouraged, touched, amazed, inspired, and intrigued.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Yes, I agree completely - this is what I consider my blog - my notebook of what is happening in my life, what God is doing with me - and sometimes what I am doing without God and totally messing up - even the posts that don't have anything to do with me personally still really do because they come from my thoughts and prayers.

About that purple journal - when you get that one figured out, please clue me in.

Here is a post you might find interesting - I certainly did. It is how we spent Thanksgiving.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


I have 3 active (ok, semi-active) blogs...and it's way too much to keep up.

Blogs are like notebooks...and you ARE probably addicted. ;-)

Let's form a 12 step program, recovery group and appoint a leader...and hey, here's an idea - we should have a blog!!! Is it taken?

7:14 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

blogs are better than notebooks for me.... because i can put photos together with writing, and in much less time. :) i've never been able to get into scrapbooking, or even getting my pictures into albums. and for some reason, i've never been able to consistently journal.

but i love blogging.... and you get the added bonus of feedback and community. as someone who is curious about people, i enjoy reading other's 'notebooks', too. :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

I just visited your Love Notes to Yahweh blog. It's beautiful -- your writing, your heartfelt prayers. While I didn't feel like reading it was intrusive, I did feel like commenting on your intimate conversations with God would be. But either way, I felt blessed to read a few of the posts, and I know it will bless countless others who visit. So thank you for sharing!

2:14 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Thank you so much for all your thoughts and encouragements and challenges. You've helped me make some decisions about "Love Notes to Yahweh". I don't claim that these decisions are either right or wise, but they are where I've come to for the time being.

Again, thank you. You have acted like an extended church community, a much-needed group of Shepherds on my path.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I dunno - I was a shepherdess (for real) for a couple of years in college - you don't vaguely resemble those sheep - maybe the Chief Shepherd has already been trainging you, young lady.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

speaking of...
i have a question for you. would you mind emailing me?
heatheragoodman [at] yahoo [dot] com


1:48 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

Notebooks are addictive too. *grin*

6:54 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave

my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice

blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


9:15 PM  

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