Welcome to the CMBA Newsletter!
Welcome! This month’s newsletter features an overview of using Twitter to support your blog’s ministry, an invitation to an essay contest, and a behind-the-scenes look at Jason and Tiffani from My Beloved Is Mine!
Some of us do a lot of planning for our blogs, and others of us wait for inspiration. There is no one right way to do what we do. We all work in our own ways with the gifts God has given us, and sometimes it may be hard to see which direction to take. Remember that it is all in God’s hands. Even with our blogs, God will direct our steps.
Thank you for being a voice that encourages people to grow in their marriages.
The following blogs joined CMBA since our last issue. Do visit their sites and share an encouraging word.
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.
Featured thread this month:
If you have written e-books, what system did/do you use? Why? Weigh in on this thread in the forum to share your experience for the rest of us.
If you would like to try your hand at writing about marriage somewhere other than your blog, here’s your chance!
Creative Nonfiction magazine is seeking unpublished essays about marriage.
Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. There is a $20 reading fee, or $25 to include a 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction (US addresses only). The deadline is August 31, 2015. Creative Nonfiction will award a $1000 prize for the Best Essay and $500 for the runner-up.
Contest information is available at https://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions/marriage.
How Do I . . . ?
Use Twitter for My Marriage Blog?
By Lori Ferguson, Encourage Your Spouse
Why would you want to use Twitter for your marriage blog?
According to a 2014 Pew Research study, 23 per cent of adults online use Twitter. That’s up from 18 per cent in 2013. Twitter is an effective method to reach adults, with usage just behind Facebook and Instagram.
However, twitter isn’t a good medium for every marriage blogger.
I’m going to cheat here, and use Chris Taylor’s list of three questions from last month’s post about Facebook because they’re just as relevant when deciding to be – or not be — on Twitter! (If you haven’t read that post – check it out here: http://www.upliftingmarriage.com/marriage-ministry-matters-may-2015/ )
- Is Twitter likely to expand the ministry that happens on my blog or distract from it?
- Do I have time to add Twitter on to what I am already doing in social media?
- Am I interested in interacting with readers in a new way, or do I prefer it the way it is?
If, after prayer and pondering, your answer is yes – or you already have a twitter account – then read on!
Just as a note of interest, some bloggers, like Jason My Beloved Is Mine! @SongSix3, use Twitter as their main method of promoting a healthy marriage through daily tweets of marriage wisdom. Don’t assume that writing a blog post on your own website is the only way to do marriage ministry online!
A tweet is 140 characters. That’s not much – and yet some people are masters at the art of brevity.
Perhaps embracing the challenge of saying a lot with a little might make us all better writers?
What are 5 “must haves” to begin to be effective on Twitter
- Complete your profile. A complete profile includes a picture! (get rid of the egg) A profile also includes your URL, a bio, and a header photo. (yes, you can also do a background photo) Here’s a link to explain the basics and photo dimensions: https://support.twitter.com/articles/127871-customizing-your-profile
- Follow people. To begin to follow others on twitter, check out the List of CMBA members here: https://twitter.com/UpliftMarriage/lists/cmba-members/members Lists are a useful aspect on Twitter to allow you to segment those you follow, and those who follow you. Learn more about Lists here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-using-twitter-lists Some CMBA member using Lists are Tom and Debi Walter @TheRomanticVine and SheilaGregoire @sheilagregoire and One Flesh Marriage @1FleshMarriage In addition to creating your own lists, it’s also possible to subscribe to other people’s lists.
- Invite others to follow you. Include a link to your twitter account on your blog, in the signature of your emails, and whenever you guest-post. However, don’t automatically follow everyone who follows you.
- If you’re going to be on twitter… please be actively social. Don’t just post links to your posts! Respond to questions – retweet other people’s posts or tweets – comment on tweets. It’s not necessary to be on Twitter all day, every day – that’s where a scheduler comes in handy. (see #5) Also – use Hashtags to connect with like-hearted posts and posters. Learn more about #hashtags here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-using-hashtags-on-twitter You could use #CMBA or #marriage to start with… but no more than three hashtags, please.
- Use a scheduling App. Twitter is actively social, but it also can be a way to touch people all through the day. One way to manage your tweets so you don’t need to on Twitter all day long, is to use a scheduler. Yes – this may seem contradictory to #4, however you don’t want to flood your follower’s streams with a string of your posts. Posting all your twitter links all at once is very annoying to your followers. Solve this by using scheduling apps – some apps are BufferApp https://buffer.com/faq/getting-started (full disclosure – this is my favorite!) or Hootsuite https://hootsuite.com/plans/free Both have free plans.
What else is there to know about Twitter?
Wow. There’s a lot to know about Twitter and the Twitter community of tweeps! Some are serious, some are fun, some love to be quippy, and some are quixotic. And sometimes they’re all that in one 140 character tweet! If you do decide to dip your toes into Twitter, I’d love it if you’d connect with me on twitter – I’m Lori Ferguson @Ready2Encourage .
Like most everything in blogging, research is good, but doing is better. Follow some of our CMBA members, and connect. Ask a question. Respond to one of their posts. Try it out!
Lastly, Twitter chats during a prescheduled specific date and time are fun and a great way to interact and learn more with your followers and those you follow. Perhaps we’ll try a #Marriage twitterchat some evening – anyone up for that?
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.)
Do you have an e-book, devotional, printable, or other resource that you’ve developed? Let us send a little love your way. If you have a resource that you’d like help promoting, send an email to Chris at email@example.com. Resources will be listed in future newsletters. It’s a great way to help us encourage each other and see what we’re all up to.
Behind the Blog
Meet Jason and Tiffani from My Beloved Is Mine!
Tell us about your blog. When and why did you start your blog? Is there a story behind your blog’s name? What aspect of marriage do you blog about the most?
We are Jason & Tiffani Graves, married on August 28, 1987 – my 21st birthday. We started the “SongSix3 – My Beloved Is Mine!” blog in February 2012. We were beginning to come out of a time of awakening between us. We had both sinned egregiously against each other (in the form of adultery) roughly a decade earlier, but had each chosen to keep it a secret – not realizing that we could never have true intimacy until we were finally honest with each other. That time period broke in July 2011. The next 7-8 months were very rough as we traversed that minefield of emotions, but our senior pastor walked through the whole mess with us. Jesus taught us what it truly means to forgive. Tiffani showed me the marriage blogs of a few people, as I had no clue there were people doing this on the web. I remember specifically reading some posts from Julie Sibert and Brad & Kate Aldrich, and being very impressed at the work they were doing. The idea for our blog began to take shape in my mind. There are already experts out there teaching in niche areas, and we feel those folks are doing a good job. So our blog doesn’t concentrate necessarily in any one area of marriage. Our earlier posts were kind of zeroed in on telling our story of adultery and dishonesty about it, but we have long felt the need to be more diverse and talk about things that apply in all areas of the marriage. So you’ll find posts about adultery, respect, body image, death of loved ones, kids, video gaming (within the context of marriage), and several other topics. You’ll even find a few posts woven throughout from our life around the farm!
What is your favorite blog post (give us a link, please!), and why?
I truly can’t say I have just one favorite – but if you’ll allow me to share two, please? The first would be “Keep Short Accounts”. (http://songsix3.org/keep-short-accounts/) This one tells our back story in the most succinct way, along with the results of our sin and what we learned from it all. My other favorite is still my very first blog post, “The Most Beautiful Woman In The World.” (http://songsix3.org/the-most-beautiful-woman-in-the-world/) My Beloved wife struggled with body image so much, and I needed to find a way to SHOW her that I didn’t see what she saw in herself. I had fun writing this one, but the core message is still a serious one that most women struggle with at some point in their lives.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
We especially like Isaiah 43:18-19. Tiffani received this one from the Lord during a ladies’ retreat in late 2011 and it really helped us begin to think clearly about how God would have us move into the future of our marriage, and learn to leave the past behind us. “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” (NASB)
What has surprised you about blogging?
The fact that writing does NOT come easy! We post so infrequently because neither of us are very prolific writers. Tiffani definitely has more ideas than I for posts, but she’s a homeschooling, farm-managing mom… time is NOT something she has a lot of! Speaking for myself, I often have something going in my head about marriage, but when I try to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I most often come up blank. It is a point of frustration for me.
Tell us about your spouse/marriage.
Tiffani and I got married very young. We were not Christians at the time, and really didn’t even acknowledge God at all. We had a rocky 1.5 years together, and then we split for almost a year. During that year, Christ got ahold of both of our hearts even though we were living on opposite coasts of the U.S. He got us back into the same room together and we both just KNEW that we were supposed to reconcile. We had a rough time trying to learn how to be Christians AND married all at the same time, without any real spiritual guidance – but we managed. Several years passed and thanks to wishy-washy lackluster walks with Christ, we each fell into sins (and silence) that would put a dark cloud over us for over a decade. 2011 was the year that the cloud was blown apart and the light of Jesus was able to shine in. We have spent the last 4 years learning to speak clearly and directly with each other, praying for and with each other, becoming the best of friends, and building REAL intimacy between us. We have six children ranging in age from 29 down to 7. (Yes, they are ALL ours!) Our two oldest children also have kids of their own, so we are grandparents to 4 bouncing little ones. We will celebrate our 28th year of marriage in two months. We have been locked in to the fellowship at Calvary Chapel of Manassas (Virginia) since 1998, and I lead worship & play electric guitar. Tiffani sings with the team as a backing vocalist.
What are some reader comments or emails that stand out for you, and why?
It still amazes and dumbfounds us that we get emails from every corner of the earth. “We got a blog reader from WHAT country???” People write to us looking for hope. They want to know what magic formula we used to get past the hurts of the past. Some of these folks are in some SERIOUSLY screwed-up situations too. It breaks our hearts to hear about the love triangles (and in some cases quadrangles) that people get themselves mixed up in. But we always respond to them the same way… there is NO magic formula. You need to submit yourself to Jesus, and learn to serve Him no matter what happens in your marriage. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” No, that’s not a guarantee that God will restore your broken marriage (although we will certainly agree with you in prayer that He DOES!) What this verse says to us is that God already knows you desire to be loved by another human in total intimacy. After all, HE put that desire in your heart. So serve Him while you wait. He has not forgotten you.
What are your hobbies (besides blogging, of course)?
In 2011, we city folks decided we wanted to move our four homeschooled kids into the countryside and attempt to get a bit more peace into our lives. We purchased a 2.5 acre farmette and successfully raised up a great flock of egg-laying chickens, several batches of hogs (fresh pork, anyone??), and a whole mess of meat birds that have served us many great meals from the roaster. Two months ago, we upgraded to a 10-acre farm (http://songsix3.org/new-family-farm/) which we share with Tiffani’s step-dad. There are two houses on the property, so he’s got his own space. We have moved our chickens & ducks to the new place, and recently had a local farmer drop off two one-year-old cows that will provide fresh beef later this year. Tiffani is a fantastic farm manager, and runs the place like she’s been doing it her entire life. I am a SharePoint Administrator and computer support guy all day, but my evening job is “farm hand”. I do whatever “the boss-lady” needs done. I’ve become quite proficient at snake hunting. Snakes love chicken eggs, but unfortunately for them, my family loves the eggs more. I won’t go into the gruesome details out of respect for the squeamish, but suffice it to say that although I’ve been involved in many-a-battle against nature, each time only one of us has made it out alive. I have survived to blog another day.