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How Do I Decide What to Write About?

A reader from Canada asked me to blog about these questions: How do you decide what to write about? How do you know what's okay to say and what is revealing too much? How do you dance between open communication and respecting your co-worker's need for privacy? How do you stay connected with home churches without your children feeling like celebrities?

Great questions. Here are my answers:

How do you decide what to write about?

Sometimes ideas present themselves on their own. I wrote Never Trust a Dead Chicken and The Great Battle of 2016 for Dar es Salaam the same day those things happened. I've written lots of posts after conversations with my friend Alyssa, because she always makes me think. There's been many times when I worry I am going to run out of ideas, but then I never do. These days, though, I do run out of time.

I process my thoughts through writing. I discover new thoughts by writing. I see this blog as a journal of my life, so I want to represent all the pieces. That can be tricky, though, which leads me to the next question....


How do you know what's okay to say and what is revealing too much?

Whew. I wish there was a rule about this one. I don't exactly know. If I'm writing about something sensitive, I usually pass it by Gil, and sometimes my parents or another friend before I post it. There's been several times when Gil has asked me to completely re-write a post because I've said too much or been too harsh, and I really appreciate that. 

I think ultimately my guide is the gospel. If what I say is going to bring more glory to Jesus, then I don't mind people seeing into my soul. 



How do you dance between open communication and respecting your co-worker's need for privacy?

I've become a lot more careful about this the longer I have been writing, but I probably still don't always get it right. I recognize that I am okay with being a whole lot more public about my life than many others are, and I want to respect that. 

I try to be completely anonymous about the people I am writing about, and if not, I ask them ahead of time. For example, when I wrote When Her House Was Scheduled for DemolitionWhen Plan B is God's Best and When the American Church Fails Its Missionaries, I wrote with the explicit permission of the people I was writing about. In fact, I sent them an early draft and asked them to edit it (which they did). I also asked Nikky for permission to write her story.

These days, I'm also trying to be a lot more careful about what pictures I post, especially of other people's children. Since I am now a principal, I'm a lot more concerned about how I represent my students. This is hard, because I think HOPAC kids are the cutest in the world and I would love for you to see them! (In fact, if you are a HOPAC parent and don't mind if I post pictures of your kids, please let me know.)

This is why these days, you'll see mostly group shots or lots of pictures of the backs of kids' heads.



How do you stay connected with the home churches without your children feeling like celebrities?

This is pretty much impossible, even if I didn't blog. I don't know if there's any way around MK's not feeling like celebrities in their home churches.

What's harder for me is the desire to show that we are not a perfect family, yet remember that my kids' don't need their struggles out there for the world to see. I've felt this a lot more as they've gotten older. So if my pictures and stories about them make it seem like we are a perfect family, well, that's certainly not true. I want you to see my imperfections, but for now, I will usually avoid telling you about theirs. (Though sometimes I make exceptions.)


I am always open to new ideas! If you have something you would like me to write about, don't hesitate to let me know.

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