Welcome to the CMBA Newsletter!
It’s the month of love! We have a blog challenge this month, a great article on using Instagram, an invitation to promote your own resources, and a behind-the-scenes look at Brad and Kate Aldrich from One Flesh Marriage.
The following blog joined CMBA since our last issue. Do visit their site and share an encouraging word.
Stubborn Pursuits – Richard & Sharon Wildman
Our Valentine’s Day 2015 Blog Challenge asks you to write a post–just one–about date nights. You can write about why date nights matter in your marriage, tell a story about one of your date nights, or share creative ideas for date nights. Here are the rules:
- Publish one post about date nights between February 1 and February 14.
- Share a link to your post in a link-up at the bottom of this issue of the newsletter.
- Grab a button to post on your blog to let your readers know you’ve taken the challenge. Save the picture below or use this code: <div align=”center”><a href=”v” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.upliftingmarriage.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/VDAY_2015_button.png” width=”175px” height=”175px” border=”0″ alt=”CMBA”></a></div>
- Visit other CMBA members to read and comment on their blogs.
- At the end of the challenge, we’ll have another button for you to post to your site to show that you completed the challenge.
But wait, there’s more!
Every blogger who posts a blog challenge link will be eligible for a drawing. The winner will win his or her choice of one of these three books:
You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark Thank you to The Marriage Bed for underwriting the prize!
From the Forum
The CMBA Member’s Forum is a safe place for us, away from the eyes of our readers, where we can gain insight, encouragement, practical help, and prayers. This month’s featured thread asks about your guidelines for comments on your blog posts. Do our commenters influence readers’ views of the blog? Do comments promote ministry and the exchange of ideas? Do they get in the way of the ministry.
What do you think about limiting blog comments?
How Do I . . . ?
How Marriage Bloggers Use Instagram
By Lori Ferguson, Encourage Your Spouse Are you missing out on a great visual medium to convey your message? Only a few of our CMBA members are using Instagram as a social media tool. Of those who are using Instagram, most mix their message with images of their personal life to demonstrate “walking the talk” of growing a Godly marriage. Debi Walter, at TheRomanticVineyard.com, said, “…it encompasses all aspects of our lives, which gives it a more personal connection.” What is Instagram? Instagram, a social media medium, is a free, downloadable application for mobile device users to share photos and 15-second videos on Instagram, and other social networking sites. The photos have a distinctive square shape, and the image can be enhanced with a number of filters. Instagram launched in 2010 and has over 130 million active users; 70% of Instagram users are female.* 3 Ways to Use Instagram as a Marriage Blogger Marriage bloggers use Instagram for:
1. Walking the Talk
Jason Graves from SongSix3.org says, “Instagram allows Tiffani and I to visibly demonstrate loving deeds – such as my recent Hershey’s chocolate picture, or special date night sushi dinners being prepared as I wait for the chefs to finish their work. We regularly banter cheerfully back and forth between her personal account and my SongSix3 account. Our readers can see all this.” Using Instagram to be real and show real life as a married couple is one of the most useful aspects of Instagram.
2. Praising and Thanking God
Whether it’s a photo of a stellar sunset, the messy goodness of toddlers, the delight in worship, or the simple joy of connecting with friends, Instagram documents all the reasons we have to praise God and be thankful. You can use a photo-a-day group challenge to keep yourself motivated.
3. Promoting and Connecting
Marriage bloggers use Instagram to promote their ministry in three ways. Hashtags play a big part in connecting with other Instagramers, growing their followers and/or promoting an event or a cause.
• Using images to promote new posts on blogs (images are usually from that post), marriage quotes or tips, are the most obvious way marriage bloggers use Instagram. Hashtags for this purpose include: #marriage #newpost #marriagetip #marriagequote #christcenteredmarriage
• Marriage ministry participants work together on social media to promote a book, movement, or an event, etc. The hashtag #pullingbacktheshades is currently being used by marriage ministry participants to promote a book/movement. Events have been promoted with hashtags like #marriageconference #marriageretreat #buildyourmarriage
• Bloggers, marriage coaches or speakers can use Instagram to document “in-the-moment” photos from all their participants using a hashtag from the event. Many attendees, especially women in their 20’s and 30’s are active on Instagram, so if you give them a hashtag to promote their participation, your event is documented in a personal way from many angles.
Engaging is Key Like every other social media platform, engagement with people who comment, and reaching out to comment on other Instagramers’ photos is where growth happens. Use hashtags to discover other marriage-minded people – follow them, like their photos, and start making strangers into friends. Not every social media platform works for everyone. Some people love Facebook, and others are Twitter mavens – you don’t have to use all the social media platforms. Use the ones which you enjoy, and can make an authentic connection with your audience. Consider using Instagram if any of these apply…
- taking photos with your mobile device is fun
- you like adding words to photos to create a message
- sharing specific personal moments from your life is comfortable
- a long, wordy article isn’t your style – you’re better in a visual medium
- a visual document of your marriage ministry activities will help others
Some of our CMBA members have remarked that they already have an Instagram account never (or rarely) use it, and others commented they would like to try out Instagram. So… CMBA members: I challenge you to create an account and upload a few photos! (Valentine’s dates, maybe?) To begin connecting, reach out to our CMBA members listed below and “follow” them, clicking the heart symbol beside some of their photos to show you admire the picture and… maybe even comment! A few CMBA members on Instagram:
LeighAnn Dutton – Intentional by Grace http://instagram.com/leighanndutton
Jolene Engle – The Allabaster Jar http://instagram.com/joleneengle
Lori Ferguson – Encourage Your Spouse – http://instagram.com/Robert_and_Lori
Sheila Gregoire – To Love Honor and Vacuum – hhttp://instagram.com/sheilagregoire
Stu Gray – Stupendous Marriage – http://instagram.com/stugray
Tiffani & Jason Graves – SongSix3 – http://instagram.com/songsix3
David and Lorrie McIntyre – One Heart Beat Georgia – http://instagram.com/oneheartbeatga
Debi Walter – The Romantic Vineyard http://instagram.com/theromanticvineyard
(*Details on Instagram are from “The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos and Social Media to Market Your Brand” by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Giogilio)
Are you on social media? Follow CMBA!
- Pinterest (If you would like to be added to CMBA’s collaborative Christian Marriage and Sex board, email Bonny at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Usually this space shares a marriage resource you can use to strengthen your own marriage or encourage your readers to use. CMBA members have developed plenty of great resources. This month, we’re inviting you to let us all know what you have available. Do you have a e-book, a devotional, printables, or other resources that you’ve developed? Let us send a little love your way. In the comments, give us links to resources that you’d love for us to help promote!
Behind the Blog
It’s fun to get to know the person (or people) behind a blog. The plan is that each newsletter will feature one blog. We will provide a list of questions; it’s up to the blogger which questions (or how many) to answer.
Meet Brad and Kate Aldrich from One Flesh Marriage!!
We are Brad and Kate of One Flesh Marriage. Brad and I were high school sweethearts and dated for 6 years before we married. We have now been married for 15 years and together for 21. It has been an amazing journey that has had some very dark times over the past 15 years. But with that darkness, God has been great light and helped us to dive into his amazing plan for marriage and sex. In 2010 God prompted us to share our marriage story and all that he has done in it. We prayed about starting our marriage ministry and asked God to lead us to a scripture. He took both of us to Ephesians 5 and that is where One Flesh Marriage was born. Our blog is unique in that we decided that we both wanted to share on the blog, each lending our own perspective to each topic we talked about. That started our “call and response” style writing. One of us starts a topic and the other responds on the same topic with his/her perspective. Trying to get both the husband and wife perspective. We talk about all things marriage, but much of our topics deal with parts of our story. Sex and intimacy being one of the top topics for us. Our heart is to share God’s amazing plans for marriage and intimacy. We love partnering with all of you, because in our opinion there can NEVER be enough voices out there sharing God’s good plan for marriage! So thankful for you all for who you are and for being willing to share! Since our story involves many misconceptions and heartaches where sex is concerned, it should not have surprised us that when we write on that topic, there is much interest. Yet it did! We were shocked sometimes at the amount of hurting marriages out there and sex being one of the number one contributors to that hurt. We are no longer in a state of shock and now seek to share in all the places God provides for us, both locally and through the blog. We are not only passionate about sharing on the blog, but also about doing marriage ministry within our church and community. The blog is fantastic and better than we ever imagined, yet sitting with a couple in our church and talking marriage, is something we have an intense passion for. We are always excited to see new marriage bloggers out there. As I said previously, there are NEVER enough of us sharing God’s great plan for marriage and sex. There is so much junk out there and the world sells us a very sad version of marriage and sex, that the voices in tune with God’s word and the Holy Spirit are so needed. Keep sharing from your heart and from your story. God has a plan for that. Also remember that while your blog is great, it is not as important as your marriage and family. There are several times over the past year and half that we have had to step back and blog less. It is ok! While we are a voice, we are not doing any good if we are neglecting the exact thing we are writing on. As for the day to day of our lives. Brad is the Pastor of Small Groups and Re|Engage (marriage ministry) at our church, the Worship Center in Lancaster, PA. He also is a PA licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, still working part time in that field. I am an at home mom of our three kids. Our kids are 11, 10 and 8. All children of our heart, though two entered biologically and one entered through adoption. Up until this last year we homechooled them all. This year is a little different and we are only homeschooling one. I am also a portrait photographer in my spare time. We love our family time and value it deeply. Brad and I make it a goal to get away together twice a year to celebrate “us!” That is our favorite hobby! We hope to get to know more of you in the future. So thankful to partner with you all in marriage ministry!
Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Valentine’s Day 2015 Blog Challenge: Please share a link to your post here.