Monday, May 5, 2014

The Blog Forum : : A Creative Little Series #5 ~ Creating Your Community

 
Community. 

We all yearn for it.  God's designed us that way.  We long for an authentic welcome, a safe connection.  Something deep within cries out to be heard, to be validated, to be appreciated.  We need hugs and sharpening wisdom and fellow sojourners alongside for the long haul.

Much of what we desire at the deepest level can only be met in relationship with Jesus Christ.  But there is still that element of community here on earth that beckons.  We're called to live in communities of faith and not be isolated from our neighbors.  Some sort of small group or two where there's a strong sense of belonging can enlarge our borders and breathe new life into our beings.  And who doesn't crave kindred spirit friendships with just a few like-minded souls.

This is true for many of us who blog.

But truth be told, I've found that there are some bloggers that are just not all that into creating a hospitable space.  No welcome mat seems to be found on their property, there's no sense of warm hospitality.  Comments are seldom responded to and they don't reciprocate your visit or your interest in connecting.  And that's fine.  {Please know that I'm NOT pointing a finger at any specific blogs and that I'm NOT talking about bloggers who get a hundred comments every time they hit publish.  You'd make yourself crazed trying to connect with each and every reader.} 

And there's no one right way to do this blogging thing.

But many of us like the opportunity to connect, and it goes far beyond gathering hits or followers or commenters.  It comes down to using that lovely gift of hospitality to make others feel welcome and at home and like they belong.   Arms are open wide to newcomers ... they're not outsiders looking in. They are part of the group.  They are valued and accepted.

No one likes to feel excluded. 

It brings back too many memories of being last to be chosen on the playground or sitting by yourself at lunchtime, isolated and ignored.  And that's an unspoken message I never want to send.

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3 ways I do community on this blog . . .

1.  I reply to each comment you leave.  You've taken the time in your busy day to be gracious and thoughtful.  For me, it's just plain rude if I don't answer you back.  That's just who I am.  Even if it takes a few days, it's going to happen.  

2.  I travel over to your place to visit and say 'hi' if your comment includes a working link.  {Please know that if your link is a Google+ page, it's often difficult to track you down if there's not a specific link to your site.}  It means alot to me that you've taken the time to write a few kind words.  And I truly want to do the same.  Sometimes you drop back in for another visit and I head back over to see what's happening at your place.  We begin to connect.  A friendship begins to emerge.  It doesn't get better than that.

3.  I feature your comments on the right side of the website.  I love giving you a forum to speak your mind and it's fun to introduce people to each other.  I want to honor you by getting your name out there.  I absolutely believe that this feature is valuable enough to take up some real estate around here.

That's how community is woven 'round these parts.  There's no one right way to do this.  We all have different ways of relating and the sky's the limit when it comes to weaving together your own very uniquely compelling space. 
 
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A few words on link-ups {aka linky parties} . . .

The welcome mat is out at these gatherings, such a cool way to build community, especially if your visitors are of the same heart and mind and also make it a point not to just link and run. The secret is to somehow persuade your linkers to visit their neighbors before they head on out.

I'm loving . . .

 
 
 
 
FORUM
 
How do you do community over at your place?
 
What link-ups have proved to be worth the investment of your time?
 
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BONUS!  A FREE 1/2 hour coaching session is my gift to anyone who's left a comment in one of the six sessions of this series.  Details will be in the upcoming conclusion!
 
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This is YOUR invitation to become an active part of this community!  Please click here to receive every post.
 
Sharing community with Beth  .  Kristen  .  Beth  .  Holley  .  Lyli 
 
If this series has been working for you, I'd love for you to share it with your community! 
The links are below.

31 comments:

  1. The steps you've outlined are a wonderful way to build a community. Responding to each comment is so important!

    For me, blogging IS my 'human' world. I'm too ill now to go to church, or even to WalMart. So it's me and the dogs, in real time, until my wife gets back from work.

    I do try to get to every comment, and visit the linked websites - and leave comments, at least a 'good show!' - but sometimes I'm simply not up to it. Sitting at the computer table long enough to do that is simply too painful.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/05/marriage-is.html

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    1. You sure do make a difference wherever you land, Andrew. Even in illness, in pain, in isolation. I'm truly thankful that you're in community with us here. You speak truth and provide a perspective we need to consider. And I so appreciate that.

      May today find your spirit strong ...

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  2. Linda, you are SO good at being welcoming and creating community. I appreciate the connection you've made with me between our blogs; I value your friendship.

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    1. I love being in community with you, my friend. I see Jesus in your writing, in the call He's placed on your life, in your gentle yet oh-so-strong spirit.

      I'm so grateful to know you ... even at a distance!

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  3. I agree...I've found the best way to form a community is to reply and do a return visit. I've found so many of my blogging friends this way. I try my best to stay on top of the comments and visiting, not that I get SO many that I can't keep up, but sometimes life ties my hands and it's hard to hop back on. I know there's grace for times like that, but I still feel guilty if I can't comment or visit.

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    1. Yep, for sure, life happens. And that's when we find how precious community truly is! For there is grace and an encouraging word, prayer support and kindness. Even from afar.

      And there is absolutely no room for guilt in the midst of love!

      I'm so thankful that you are here, Alecia. Truly.

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  4. Thank you for how you so lovingly welcome us here. I love coming by for a visit. :) I'm really enjoying this series. Such a wonderful idea. Much love to you, Linda. xoxo

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    1. And I love when you stop in, Beth! You do community so beautifully over at your place ... with a smile, such grace, and a sensitive honesty.

      I'm grateful that you're in my life, friend. And I'm so happy that you're enjoying this little series, too!

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  5. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for always being so welcoming...I try to visit when I can find the person's blog and I try to reply although I know I have fallen behind sometimes due to illness or travels or just life....I like getting to know people and since I don't have 100s of comments, it is do-able :) blessings to you :)

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    1. Yep, most of us will never have hundreds of comments ... and that's ok. The best things come in small packages! And maybe that's true about community where you're less liable to fall through the cracks and be ignored ...

      ;-}

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  6. Gone all day. Just stopping in. Always I love what I find here. This series is coming at such a good time for me. Thank you thank you. And I too just realized that Google doesn't give my blog

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    1. Sorry, Google +, but you're hard to navigate ...

      Sigh.

      ;-{

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  7. If I EVER get Google + figured out---just about the time I get one cyber thingy figured out--along comes another one---It's like my running---I am always at the back of the pack! Color me frustrated! LOL!

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    1. Oh I hear you, friend! I know just enough of what I need to know. I am technologically {is that even spelled right?!} illiterate. I decided long ago to keep things as simple as possible. That part of my brain just doesn't work.

      And that's ok!

      ;-}

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  8. Connecting with people is a huge reason of why I do this. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't understand google+. I have trouble navigating my comments and responding to them. How do you do this in blogspot? I'll be moving to a Wordpress site next week. I hope it's easier.

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    1. When people leave a comment, I have it set up so it comes right to my inbox and I hit PUBLISH or MARK AS SPAM from there. It saves the reader from having to view outrageously vile spam that can so easily get on the site disguised as a comment. And it also keeps readers from having to do that annoying capcha thingy where you've gotta type all those strange letters to leave a few kind words.

      Then I go to the website, hit REPLY right underneath their comment and chat a bit.

      I do hear from time to time that leaving a comment doesn't work in one way or another. I encourage people to just shoot me an email with their kind words and I publish it for them.

      lindastoll@juno.com

      Good luck with Wordpress, Jenn. I'll be interested to hear how that goes for you. Blogger's been pretty kind to me and after all these years I can focus on what I want to say and not have to figure out how to navigate things.

      And that I love!

      ;-}

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  9. I'm going to have to go back and read this series in order - you're doing such a lovely job, my friend! It's been a crazy week or so for me and I'm a little late responding. I'm sorry about that - your comments are always so encouraging and they never fail to brighten my day :)

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    1. Oh yeah, I hear you about those crazy weeks! You just end up yearning for solitude, silence, and sleep ...

      It means alot that you stopped by in the midst of it all, my friend. Thank you!

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  10. Nice to find the community here via Coffee For Your Heart. It is hard to be vulnerable to settle into community (especially in blogging). Thank you for your tips. You seem to do this well.

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    1. It's not easy to find a safe space where we are welcome to share our laughter, our brokenness, our hopes, our challenges, our joys ... and find open arms of grace and acceptance in the process. In person or online. Please know that you are welcome here, Rebekah ...

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a few words! May your day be bright ...

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  11. Hi Linda! OH WOW! What a wonderful post! I used to blog a while ago for a friend in America. But I have recently felt led to start again. There's not much I felt I could do as I sought for God's will for my life. So I'm starting with things I'm good at (art/craft) and things I already do, blogging. In fact, one dream I have has to do with hospitality! Thank you for having me over and for such a warm welcome! Here is a link to my first post http://geraldinejayne.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/welcome.html

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    1. It was fun to drop in and visit you this evening, Geraldine. Thanks for taking the time to share a bit of yourself with us. Please know that you are welcome here in this little online community! I hope you'll find it to be a safe and loving space in your life.

      Blessings ...

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  12. i enjoyed reading this Linda. It is really very kind that you are willing to invest the time in finding out who is reading what you are writing...to connect. Especially when your posts are filled with responders. I love the thee rules you practice and I love the concept of a "welcome at"....thank you for the ideas, suggestions, and thoughts.

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    1. Yep, that welcome mat is front and center here, Summer. I'm so glad that you came by today, and I hope that visiting with us was worth your while.

      I look forward to getting to know you a bit better and that you'll find this community to be enriching and encouraging to your soul ...

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  13. I am a huge believer in building community. I spend a lot of time reply to comments on my blog, visiting the bloggers who comment and just trying to encourage new bloggers. I've found some true friendships in the blogging world. So thankful for this community.

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    1. Thanks for dropping in tonight, Barbie! I'm encouraged by your comment as I think we're truly on the same wavelength as we offer safe spaces for those who come our way.

      I'm glad you're here and hope we'll be running into each other more in the days to come. Weekend blessings ...

      ;-}

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  14. Linda, love the creativity in your blog, so-o-o many great ideas, very inspiring :)

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    1. You're kind! Thanks so much for those words of encouragement this morning, Beth. May your weekend be bright and beautiful ...

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  15. Linda,
    Wow you put it just like I've been thinking it. But I've always been the lonely one in the corner. So I guess I gut used to it. But that's why I do what you do ... make everyone feel welcome and loved.
    I just wrote a post about Koinonia. It's a Greek word about the kind if community God wants us to have. That post and my Church Hurts post struck a common chord in many people. I can see why.
    Glad to have found you!

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    1. Yep, once you've been that lonely soul in the corner, a piece of those experiences remains with you always. To choose to create a welcoming community redeems those past hurts. And in the process we become wounded healers.

      I love how God does that for us!

      IAnd 'm glad you're here ...

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So ... whatcha thinkin', friend?

Linda

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