Blog consolidating and spring-cleaning

Consolidating

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been consolidating and spring cleaning my blog. This has involved  using a self-hosted WordPress installation to import a bunch of old backup files, then adding some other posts by hand that were not in these backups for various reasons. After that I had to go through and remove duplicated posts, clean up and publish some old drafts that needed to see daylight, and then delete all the remaining drafts that I’m not going to use. Once everything was together in one place I cleared out all the content from WordPress.com and imported the consolidated site back here.
The result is that this blog (A Saved Wretch) now has 741 published posts, an additional 380 over what was here a month ago. Even so, there are still a few posts I know I’ve written but cannot find which I will add once I track them down.

Blogging philosophy

Over the years I have wavered on my ideas as to what I wanted to present to the world on my personal website, initially it was strongly focused on my Christian faith, then while I was seeking a career change I tried to cultivate a different persona in case employers Googled my name.
The mindset I’ve settled into now is that very few people ever visit this site so it is actually primarily for me. I’m also getting old enough that there’s no point trying to change how others might perceive me based on what they stumble across here so it’s easier to just be myself. So there is a real mix of stuff on the blog, from single sentence updates to articles of several thousand words, all covering a fairly broad range of topics.

Spring-cleaning

The spring-cleaning will be ongoing as I loop through all the posts (I’m going from oldest to newest) fixing typos, spelling errors, broken links, missing images and inconsistent formatting. While this is a big job, it is also interesting to me as I look back over nine years of blogging and see the changes in my writing.

Archives

Moving forward and as I do my spring-cleaning, I’m saving a plain text copy of each post with the categories, tags and publication date included, labelled with the post name. I making a folder for each of these plain text files and adding to those folders the original and resized image files plus any other relevant files for each post. One of my biggest headaches has been tracking down all the pieces that need to be put together into some posts. I’m keeping all this stuff synched with Dropbox so I can work on it anywhere.

Categories and tags

Another remaining task is to rationalise my tags and categories. I currently have 15 categories and 430 tags. My present approach is to try to make the categories obvious, I want to avoid subtle distinctions between categories, it should be immediately clear what category a post belongs to. The tags are where the finer distinctions come into play.
The point of this is to use categories and tags to enable the WordPress algorithm to display ‘related posts’. In my early days blogging I manually linked to related posts within the body of each post I wrote. However, this approach has problems; it is really time consuming, I can only link to what I’ve already published (i.e., future content won’t be referenced even if it is closely related), and it leads to a lot of broken links over time.
A couple of things I’ve learned from this exercise:

  • keep backups in multiple storage locations
  • make sure backups are well labelled
  • have a logical system for labeling and archiving images
  • plain text copies of the text of posts are super valuable

If anyone has wisdom or ideas on how to do any of this stuff better please let me know in the comments!

Drafts deleted

For many months I’ve had about forty pieces of posts sitting in my drafts folder. Unfortunately when I have looked through those posts I’ve been unable to find the motivation to finish any of them. So they have sat there taunting me with their half considered ideas until I finally spent a couple of hours deciding whether I would actually finish writing any of those posts or not. In the end I realised that they had all either gone stale, been covered in some way by other posts I have written, or could safely be deleted because I can easily enough rewrite anything I’d had as a draft.

So now they are all gone, I have a nice clean WordPress dashboard with only the post I’m currently writing as a draft. It is like starting a new notebook, all blank pages ready to be filled with whatever I choose to write and no constraints.

24 to 30 July 2017

leith
Photos of the Leith as a raging brown torrent in flood at the top and at its normal ankle-deep flow in the bottom photo

Something I’m wanting to do is to keep an online journal as part of the function of this website. Obviously it is public so some things would not be appropriate to publish here, but considering how much of what is posted to social media networks can easily become public this is probably not too different.

Downpour

A significant event for our region was the recent deluge of rain and associated flooding last Friday and Saturday. Fortunately our house was not affected in any major way beyond some leaky spouting and a very muddy back yard. We did bring one of the rabbits (Cloud) inside overnight on Friday as his hutch was leaking and he had become a bit wet. He got a dry cardboard box of hay in the pet playpen for the night and once the rain eased on Saturday I moved all three of the rabbit hutches onto the concrete driveway to get them out of the mud.

(The image shows the Leith Stream on Saturday 22 July above, then at it normal flow two weeks later below)

Blog housekeeping

Despite the lack of new writing on the blog, I have been busy cleaning up all the old posts that I imported a few weeks ago. This involves fixing broken links, editing for obvious errors, adding images back, fixing fussy things that annoy me such as correct hyphens and ellipses. I’ve also tried to clean up the categories and tags to enable some of the older stuff to be found by association, though there may not be many people who actually navigate website by following tags and categories like I do myself.

Other website work has included tightening up security of the site and trying to speed up the loading time of the site. Slow site loading is one of the prices to be paid for the convenience of using WordPress and bringing that time down to something acceptable takes a surprising amount of work. So far I’ve managed to get it to something I’m satisfied with, and while there is still room for improvement what remains to fix would take a lot of time and expertise that I don’t currently have.

Trampoline

Last summer our 5+ year-old trampoline got a small hole in it, which steadily became bigger and bigger until it could no longer be used. We promised the kids that we would get another trampoline for next summer. Heather recently won an auction on TradeMe for one at a good price so we picked it up a couple of weekends ago and despite the cold weather it was an instant hit. For our kids the trampoline is a great way to get them moving and active after crouching over computers watching Youtube for hours.

Work

The second semester teaching has been underway for several weeks now, though I would not say we are run off our feet setting up labs as yet. That will come in a few more weeks.

Micropub test

I’m trying out the Micropub plugin for WordPress as a way to add short updates to my site.

However, The thought does occur to me that if I’m solely using Micropub to post to my own blog it would be simpler to use the WordPress app that I already have installed on my phone to write a short update that serves the same purpose. As yet I don’t automatically publish my posts to other social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter, but this is easy to turn on. So the question is why bother with yet another way to send stuff to my blog when I already have several available?

I acknowledge that the IndieWeb folks are much smarter than me, but are they trying to fix a problem here that already has an existing solution? I guess that is not the case if you are not using something like WordPress.

Site journal

This page is an ongoing record of the evolution of my website. I began keeping this ‘site journal’ in March, 2017 when I decided to ditch WordPress as the software powering my personal blog and instead learn how to code a website for myself, but the story has evolved since then.

Getting philosophical

4 December, 2017

Today I made a Site Philosophy page. The idea is to briefly explain my working philosophy behind the site and why it is the way it is.

The original idea of having such a page comes from Patrick Rhone and Garrick van Buren and is simply that software (and websites) should have a file explaining the thinking that drives the design and implementation of that software or website.

I agree, partly because it causes you to actually consider what is your thinking on why you’re doing things the way you are doing them. Also I think it helps a visitor to orient themselves with respect to how the site owner has set up the flow of information within the site.

SEO / Google tinkering

1 December, 2017

I have a free SEMrush account and it sends me weekly reports from their Position Tracking tool on the state of my site in terms of search postion for keywords I have set (currently this is simply my name). Generally these reports don’t tell me anything useful so I tend to ignore them but the other day I clicked through to my SEMRush Dashboard out of curiosity to see if I had set things up correctly when I opened my account several years ago then sort of forgot about it.

What I discovered is that to get useful information from their tool I needed to link it to my Google Search Console and that this was broken because my site was not verified with Google. This is because when I dumped WordPress I has a big purge and threw out everything so I could start with a clean slate, this also included the site verification file from Google.

Therefore, today has seen a bunch of small SEO housekeeping tasks being done:

  • Listing all versions of my site with Google, including https, http, www, and non-www.
  • Selecting which version I prefer (https://mikemcarthur.nz, secure and without www).
  • Generating a sitemap. I used a Free Online Sitemap Generator which seemed to do the job OK, I may need to figure out a more effective solution to update it regularly.
  • Adding the sitemap to my site and then directing Google to it’s location.
  • Authorising SEMrush to access my Google Search console data.

In theory my site is small enough and well enough linked that a sitemap is not strictly necessary according to Google. However, they do mention that if a site is new (and this version of mine is), submitting a sitemap can trigger the crawling of the site sooner than waiting for it to be found via other sites linking to it. Currently I’m not aware of any links to my site from anywhere else on the web so it could sit in isolation, un-crawled by googlebot for a long time.

Fixing links

30 November, 2017

After finally finishing my Giant List of Books to Read with its numerous (non-affiliate) links to Amazon, I decided to run a check for broken links in case I’d messed some of them up – a likely problem in a file with so many links. I used a tool I have on my Mac called Integrity which found 360 problem links. Some of these were broken, a few were 301 redirects and a lot were empty links with a hash # in place of a url which were part of the site template I am using.

While none of these were harming my site, I chose to fix all the 301 redirects before they eventually turned into 404s and to finally get rid of all the empty placeholder text which contained the non-existent urls. Obviously, with a static site this entails opening every single html file and editing it – this is why I’d put off removing the placeholders, and also because initially I needed the example formatting to help my avoid screwing everything up.

It took a while but the site currently has only good links in it (that may only last for a week!) and in the process I discovered a bunch of other errors which arose from re-using certain pages as templates for others without changing information such as dates, what navigation menu item is active, and inconsistent footer formatting. So a worthwhile exercise to do occasionally.

Static again

7 November 2017

Moved back to a static site using Amber template

I realised that I miss the fine-grained control you get by hand coding everything, and that trying to make any cohesive story of all the random stuff I’ve ever published is a recipe for insanity. So now I’m back to a hand coded site based upon a theme template that I’m gradually adapting to fit my own needs.

Moved back to WordPress

26 July 2017

At the beginning of July 2017 I switched everything back to WordPress because I was tired of having to update every change on multiple pages by hand. Over the next month I collected everything I had ever posted on my various blogs over the years together on the one site to create a central ‘internet home’ with a long-term goal of minimising my use of commercial social media sites.

This collecting together of all my material was a major task and WordPress was a good platform to use due to the ease of importing other blogs and bulk editing of posts. While this particular experiment did not last very long, it was a useful exercise to gather everything into one basket to assess what I want to keep and what was junk. To some degree that assessment is ongoing as I reformat content from that site and add it to this one. A tedious job, but to me worthwhile in its slowness as I can mull over each ‘piece of content’ (terrible term) and decide if it is really worth keeping.

A working contact form!

30 May 2017

For weeks I’ve been wanting to get a contact page set up on this site since that will be the only feedback I’m likely to get without having comments working. Today I found a very good tutorial based on the Bootstrap framework that I now have working successfully on the site. This is a big milestone for me, giving at least some possibility of interaction with anyone who reads the site and hopefully also a way for any problems I don’t know about to be brought to my attention.

The tutorial is on the Bootstrapious website, written by a guy named Ondrej. The tutorial was easy to follow, logical and had demo files all ready for download. In fact this tutorial made the process so easy it feels a bit like cheating. But this is an important thing for me to get right, especially the php and javascript parts which I’m not at all familiar with yet.

Other stuff I’ve been working on over the last week is adding more actual content to the site, in particular lists of the poems I have read and books I read in 2016.

I have also been using Bootstrap 4 CSS for new material I add to the site. There remain a couple of formatting glitches which I want to resolve before changing everything to Bootstrap 4, this is why you may notice the nav bar changing colour as you move from page to page; the dark nav is Bootstrap 3, the light grey one is the latest version. Obviously the actual colour is a trivial thing, it just makes it easy for my to know at a glance which style sheet each page is using. What makes the transition between the two a little complicated is that the classes do not match exactly between them so the html has to be changed to use the new CSS classes, some of which I’m still figuring out.

Bootstrap

22 May 2017

The website template I am using for this site uses the bootstrap framework. This is very complex to my beginner’s eyes, but does all that I want to be able to do, and a whole lot more. Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to learn about what all the CSS classes within Bootstrap do and realising that many of them are not useful to me. So toay I began eliminating some stuff that I will not be likely to use. Then I discovered that I have been working on version 3.3.7 which uses a grid system, but there is in fact an alpha of version 4 available which uses flexbox. Having seen how useful flexbox is, I’m going to try to use this on my site, even though it is still at alpha stage and so could have plenty of bugs in it yet.

Stuff I’m removing:

  • Carousel; I don’t foresee a need for this and they do not comply with accessibility standards.
  • Modal box; These annoy me on other sites and I have no immediate use for them.
  • Progress bar styles: no immediate use.

By removing stuff I don’t need I reduce the size of the file and potentially speed up how quickly the site loads. I also have to learn about each CSS class before I decide if it is needed or not. If I delete something important I will learn from the mistake, and if I need something later on that I have removed it is not difficult to add it back in.

A brief fling with WordPress

16 May 2017

Over the weekend just gone I caved in to temptation and had a naughty weekend affair with WordPress

I had been adding some of my old blog posts to the site and quickly tired of needing to update multiple pages each time I added a new page to the site. The reason why most modern sites use a content management system (CMS) becomes obvious when you have to manually update or add links to new content in multiple places. Tools like WordPress make this so easy that I have never given much thought to how many internal links my blogs have had (internal links are good, just tedious to do by hand).

In theory I could use a static website generator to build this site which would cut out a lot of that tedium, but unfortunately none that I know of can be installed on the Chromebook I use at home, and at work I do not have full Admin access to my computer so cannot install them on there either. If I really wanted I could put a request in to IT to install a site builder such as Jekyll on my work machine, but then I’d be restricted to only being able to make updates to the site from there, whereas the way I currently have things set up I can even use my phone to make minor changes if I want to.

So, I did get to wondering if perhaps just using WordPress would be easier – it is. However, it also massively slowed the site down. I know there are ways to improve the performance of WordPress sites, but the difference in response compared to this plain old static site amazed me, and also my reason for building the site this way is to learn. So it was only a brief affair and it is over now, I have returned to html and CSS.

Reset rabbit hole

3 May 2017

Trying to position the site header and navigation on my test page I found there is about a 10px gap between the two of them which I don’t want but this is not due to any margin that I’ve set. Tried a universal reset of * {padding: 0; margin: 0;} but this mushes the entire page together (I guess it overrides all margins and padding). So now I’m heading down the rabbit hole of CSS resets and how the universal selector works.

After becoming convinced tha the universal selector is not the best way to go and reading about CSS resets, I fiddled around with my own styles using the Safari Web Inspector and Chrome Developer Tools (different names for the same sort of thing really) and narrowed the main problem down to <p> margins being set by the browsers at about 8px, accounting for the irritating gap between elements in my page header.

To resolve this, and other potential annoyances, I have set the margins for paragraphs and headings to 0. This is a commonly used reset according to a series of three articles by Michael Tuck, starting with The History of CSS Resets.

Footer problem

1 May 2017

I’ve encountered a small problem, on my ‘Test’ page – the footer is moving up the screen as I scroll down the page on desktop (Safari 9.1.3). Oddly, this is not happening on mobile Safari so I didn’t notice it over the weekend while checking the site on my phone.

Solution: I had added a <main> div to enclose the article, it’s heading and it’s footer, leaving the main page heading, footer and site navigation outside of this div. This caused the site footer and navigation to adopt the <body> styling. To fix the issue I added a <div class=”container”> as an overall page wrapper. Currently the only styling this div has is {display:block;}.

Beginning with basics: Typography

28 April 2017 to 2 May 2017

I am currently reading a lot about basic website design principles, fonts, typography and such like. Expect the site to regress to a very basic layout in the near future as I play around with getting a good readable font and making the text layout optimal. To me this is one of the really important aspects of a good website, it should be easy to read and easy to navigate, with no distractions. Time will tell if I can master this!

I have set the max width of the main content (text) column on my test page to 40em, which equates to 640px as this gives in the region of 15 to 20 words per line which is a comfortable reading length.

A ‘cheat week’

20 to 27 April 2017

Got frustrated with fiddling around with layout issues so found a blog template to use so that I can focus on publishing some real content for a bit rather than having pages full of ‘Lorem ipsum’. I’ve been using a template called ‘Blog Home’ and ‘Blog Post’ from Start Bootstrap, written by David Miller. While a useful way to quickly make the site useable, this setup is more complex than I need or understand currently so will not remain in place for long.

‘Internetting is hard’ tutorials

3 to 14 April 2017

Working through the excellent tutorials written by Oliver James over at InternetingIsHard.com, especially the ones on layout and flexbox. Working through the exercises here made me aware of why using an external CSS style sheet is much easier and cleaner than including the styles at the top of my html files.

Tidying up

31 March 2017

Today’s progress:

  • Used RealFaviconGenerator to make better favicon, Apple icon and icons for Android and Windows devices.
  • Added more comments to my code to make it easier for me to follow
  • Made all pages the same CSS style

Flexing CSS

30 March 2017

Learning about CSS flexbox and grid layouts

Today’s progress:

  • Started with a simple layout of CSS3 Flexible Box from w3schools.com
  • Once I understood the ideas behind flexbox, changed to a layout from Jake Archibald on About and Home pages.
  • Created and uploaded my own favicon and Apple icon images

Becoming responsive

28 March 2017

Learning about CSS media queries to make styling of index page more responsive on small screens.

Today’s progress:

  • Adjusted CSS to provide different styled views for screens that are larger than 600 pixels wide.
  • Added CSS styling to Journal page.

Centered, shadowed and rounded

23 March 2017

Learned how margins, padding and centering works in CSS and html. Used an example by Kroc Camen to create a cool shadowed box on my homepage with rounded corners.

Semantic elements

22 March 2017

Learning about Semantic Elements in HTML5. These make better sense to me than the old generic <div> element.

Today’s progress:

  • Added <header> and <footer> elements to index page
  • Learned a way to display < and > without them being interpreted as code
  • Added margins around body element
  • Began adding some CSS styles to text elements

Small tweaks

21 March 2017

Today I did some reading to get a better handle on some of the html tags I’m using and the ways to organise my site file structure.

Today’s progress:

  • Put the file for this page in the correct place!
  • Link the two pages of the site together
  • Inserted the script and code for Google Analytics

Hello world

20 March 2017

This website is an experiment. I am using it as a way to learn html and CSS and whatever other web coding takes my fancy.

The idea of creating a site like this, hand coded without relying on software like WordPress, has been on my mind for quite some time, but I would like to credit Tom Bennet and a post he wrote called Hand Coding A Personal Website which gave me a final nudge to make this happen.

I am using a basic template (HTML5 Boilerplate) as a quick way to get me started. I am only using parts of the code that I actually understand, so currently there is not much functionality to the site. This is very much a work in progress!

Today’s progress:

  • Organised webhosting
  • Changed nameservers for my domain
  • Created an index page
  • Created a ‘Site Progress Journal’ page (this page)

About (A Saved Wretch)

Hi, sorry, not much to see here. I am in the process of migrating 5 years worth of blogging to the Ghost platform so it may be a bit messy here for a while. Once I’ve got all the posts moved across I will get around to writing a more informative ‘about page’. Until then have a dig through the posts and see if anything inspires you.

Enjoy,
Mike


Contact

The Ghost blogging platform does not have a comments feature as yet and I am reluctant to use Disqus as it requires you to set up a disqus account in order to use it. So currently the only way to give me feedback is to email me at mikemcarthurnz at gmail.com, just be aware that my response time is in the order of a day or two rather than within minutes! I’m married to my wife, not my email.

New home


Welcome to the new WordPress.com home of Words of Eternal Life, I hope you like the new scenery! (The header images are all of places familiar to me in the south of the South Island, New Zealand.)

Busted stuff

As always when moving stuff around the internet some links have been broken. Most of these will be links to images and I am fixing these as quickly as I can but as there are at least 200 to go it will take some time! If you happen to notice anything else broken please leave a note in the comments and I will get on to it also.

Categories and tags were also cleared during the move, they are a lower priority for me to fix but it may make finding stuff a little harder. If there is something in particular you are looking for try using the search box above – just type in a key word or two and hit enter, hopefully the search results will show what you were looking for. If not, again leave a comment!

Why do you keep moving the blog??

Excellent question! The initial reason for deciding to seek a new hosting provider is that although my previous host was very reliable and gave fantastic customer service, there was a low (500MB) cap on how much disc space I could use without paying more. This was becoming a limiting factor and I knew other providers were offering virtually unlimited disc space for a similar price to what I already paid.

Unfortunately finding a provider that is as reliable is not so easy – they all have faults. Eventually I settled on one which seemed to be a good compromise but it still cost a little more than I had been paying and involved much more technical work to set up. This extra work takes me a lot of extra time, and was consuming all my ‘spare’ time, creating other problems (such as an irritated wife!).

This cost in time and money caused me to reassess and opt for the technically easy and financially cheap WordPress.com option. It has limitations, but they are such as I can live within for the time being.

(More details on my odd decision-making process in the next post.)


Image of house drawing: iStockphoto
Broken link icon: DryIcons

Survey results

About a month ago I posted a survey asking you to tell me what you think. I certainly haven’t forgotten about it, in fact the results of that survey have been influencing the changes I’ve been making to the blog over the last few weeks. Some changes are things I have wanted to do anyway but it is good to have an idea of what factors are important to people who read this blog.

Some things I have changed are cosmetic – altering the look but no change to the content of the blog. Some things are structural; adjusting the way I use categories and tags, adding a new navigation bar under the header, shifting where the ‘Link Within’ widget occurs after a post. There are also some significant improvements to come in the content of the blog – this will take time as new posts are written and a better emphasis comes through the writing (I pray!).

Show me the results!

What sort of blog posts do you most want to read here?
  • Posts that encourage my faith (80%)
  • Posts that discuss the Bible in depth (40%)
  • Posts about faith in the real mess of life (60%)
  • Posts that take an unusual look at issues (20%)
  • Posts that lead me into deeper contemplation of Christ (53%)
  • Posts about Burma (6.7%)

It seems that what people want to read and what I’m keen to write are nicely aligned here. My heart motivation is to encourage faith, particularly in the messiness of real life. I also love to ponder, meditate, contemplate the person of Jesus Christ. Both of these (encouraging faith and contemplating Christ) require digging into the Bible, so while I hasten to remind folks that I am no Bible scholar, I’m happy to have another excuse to fossick around in the Bible as I write!

What are you seeking to find when you visit Words of Eternal Life?
  • Encouragement
  • Foundational teaching
  • Truth about God & faith
  • Whatever God lays on your heart
  • Information
  • Hard to be specific but heres a go: how to fix the gearbox on an FJ Holden, Moldavian Movie reviews, Greyhound Racing Betting Tips and general tips on the important things of life like shopping & TV programs.
  • The Shan postings are incredibly encouraging.
  • Interested in your thoughts on topics. A sense of connection – where our life & faith journeys overlap.
  • Encouragement, but at the same time a challenge to live a more Christ-like life. – And to hear about your experiences and discoveries as you try to do the same :)
  • Challenge
  • Thoughtful contemplation of the word of God and a different thought than I have seen in my study

This is not such an easy list to summarize but it would seem fair to say that encouragement and challenge to live a Christ-like life based on the truth about God might be a good target for me to aim for. Another important thing that people seek from this blog is sound teaching about the foundations of our faith. (I hope this is close to what people meant).

Are you able to find what you are looking for on this blog?
  • Yes, easily (78%)
  • I just look at what is one the front page (21%)

At least this aspect of the blog is not a problem!

Does reading this blog make you want to know Christ more?
  • Almost always (46%)
  • Quite often (38%)
  • Sometimes (15%)
  • Hardly ever (0%)

This is something I’d like to work on – it is pleasing that nobody selected ‘Hardly ever’ but I do feel a bit convicted that the likely reason why my posts don’t always make people want to know Christ more is probably because this is not always my focus in writing every post. If I want Christ to be the focus of my writing I need to be more focused on Christ while I write (and while I plan/prepare to write).

Is there a topic or theme that you would like to see covered on this blog?
  • Drawing closer to Jesus…getting out of the “to dos” into Him who did, does and will do!
  • Prayer
  • Truth about God & faith
  • Jesus was hardest on the “Religious” people of his time. I worry about being a Pharisee, but mostly I worry that I don’t even realise it.
  • Burma and the Shan
  • Have enjoyed the variety of blog topics we have seen here since first visiting your blog about a month ago.
  • I think you’re doing great, kinda looking at things as they arise for you.

The last comment here pretty much nailed how I plan my writing! However, I am intending to approach writing with a little more planning in the future, though I can’t see me ever having posts planned out weeks in advance – even if I did I’d always make room for whatever God dumped on me today if it was significant. I am keen to write more about prayer, though there is a serious need for me to pray a lot more myself before this can happen with any authority. I will also continue writing about Burma and the Shan people – they are always on my heart and in my prayers so it would be weird for me not to write about this. I do think it is important to inform the Church of how much suffering occurs in Burma and as I’m convinced that God has put these people on my heart I am convinced He wants me to write about them also.

How often would you like see new posts on this blog?
  • Daily (0%)
  • Every second day (0%)
  • Two to three posts a week (21%)
  • Once a week (7%)
  • I don’t mind as long as they are good (72%)

I was greatly relieved to see that daily or even every second day postings are not being demanded – I think my longsuffering wife would have something to say if I were trying to publish a blog post every day! I greatly admire those who can write something worthwhile every day, but I am better to stick with the majority vote and only publish when I have something good to write!

What ONE improvement do you think would make this blog even better?

There were a number of encouraging comments that everything looks fine, here are some of the suggested improvements:

  • More readers. Puzzled why there are only few comments? Fine otherwise, I’ve really appreciated the honesty (honestly!!).
  • Put the “search this website” closer to the top. (done!)
  • Darker text against the white background! (done!)
  • Perhaps links to blogs you are reading so we can see what it is that inspires and encourages you would be helpful. (done – see right sidebar)
  • A list of books that you have read or are reading. (done – see right sidebar)

Many of these things were relatively easy to fix, getting more readers is a bit harder – I’ve been trying for almost two years now. However, the number of visitors is slowly growing and I am also growing in my writing. It seems to me that growth of the blog is something best left in God’s hands. I do a little promoting of Words of Eternal Life around the interwebs but am not out to make a big name for this blog. I see my part as writing and managing the blog in ways that endeavour to glorify God, He can bring the right visitors along at the right time.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

This is my primary goal, to glorify God. I stumble and fail but maybe in persistent stumbling and failing I will at least make it clear that I think attempting to glorify God is the best thing I could be doing with my life!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 ESV)

Action plan

Moving on from here I will continue aiming to post about three times each week, Monday/Tuesdays will usually be a Gratitude post, the others have no set topic (as yet!). I do intend to revisit the Who is Jesus Christ? series that I began last year and I have some ideas for another couple of topics which might form a series of posts.

What most of you will not see is me praying more, but hopefully that will come through in the posts – this is certainly my intention! I firmly believe that praying about what I write is important, this is one reason why I prefer not to post every day because it allows a ‘maturing time’ for each post (some have been deleted without being published after writing a draft and then praying about what I’ve written!).

You can expect some posts about Burma to continue, these are tending to average out around one every fortnight so if they are not of interest that’s not too much to skip over.

Overall I am excited about continuing to dig into the Bible and consider how to encourage one another in our faith in Christ. It is great to be challenged myself to come up with posts which will encourage and challenge others to know Christ more!