Wow, can you believe it?  Exactly one year ago today I started to write articles for this blog site. And in that time, I published 162 articles.  Again a big “Wow!”, as I never thought I had that much stuff up in my head.  And seeing as most articles average around 1,000 words, then in the last year I have written 162,000 words.  Yikes!!  That’s a lot of ink, or should I say, “That’s a lot of keystrokes!”

The questions some of you may be having are, “So how and why did I start writing last November?” and “What has it all been about?”  These are excellent questions, and I too want to look back and reflect on this past year.  So let’s all journey back in time together and see what we find.

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 The idea of writing goes back many years.  To be honest, I can’t really remember when it first happened.  But my wonderful mother began to suggest to me that I should write down all the interesting mission stories that I would tell her about which had occurred at some point in my life.

As a typical young man, I would just nod and say, “Thanks Mom, maybe some day.”  Part of me felt that there was too much ministry to do to slow down and take the time to journal on a regular basis.  And I really didn’t want to take the time to sit down and think back and write stories about the past.

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But then a few significant things happened within the past few years.  My mother was still urging me to write down my “story”.  Part of me still thought that would be a bit egotistical to do that.  But part of me thought, “Well, I am approaching age 50, and it might be time to reflect on what I have done up to this point.”

Then, in 2008, I was hit with the full force of my muscle disease symptoms.  Within a year, I not only resigned all my responsibilities with our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators, but I thought that my years of being a traveling missionary were over and done.  In fact, for a short while I wondered if my life was soon going to be over and done with too.

To say that I was a bit depressed in early 2009 would be quite an understatement.  But with time comes healing.  And then with the encouragement of my wife, Jill, along with supportive people in our Papua New Guinea Branch, the door remained open for Jill and me to still make some short trips to PNG so that I could continue working as a Bible translation consultant.

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The second major health crisis came in 2010 and hit our PNG Branch Director.  In August of that year, she suddenly started to not feel well, and then her skin turned yellow.  She and her husband, Jan, immediately flew down to Australia to see what was wrong and were given the diagnosis of rare bile duct cancer.

The cancer was so far advanced, and in just over a month, our friend Jan had to say his last goodbye to his lifelong mate and best friend.  What amazed many of us was how open and transparent he was in his regular blog articles.  He had written for years, and shared his joy of life and living in PNG.  But now he poured out his heart through his blog writing.

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And that was when Jill prompted me to consider doing the same thing, to write in a blog to express my thoughts and feelings about life, my disease, and my hopes to keep on doing mission work.  She knew that it would be therapeutic for me, even if I didn’t realize that myself at the time.  And so I did, starting on November 24, 2010, I began to write my story.

I look back and I can see that the early stories are a bit silly, rather self-focused, and did not have much in terms of a direction or purpose.  But within the first few weeks, I noticed that people were coming to read the stories I was writing.  And by the end of December, seeing that over 500 people had come to my site, I suddenly felt compelled to write with purpose.

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Even as I continued to write “my story”, I found that in almost every case, I could see that God’s hand was upon me and has worked through me to touch others.  And as I have reflected on my life, I can see that for the most part, my life’s desire has been to glorify God and help advance His kingdom here on earth.

And so as I began writing in January of 2011, I mapped out many themes that people might find interesting, and would at the same time give glory to God.  Two year-long series have been “Who Am I?” with the goal of seeing how God has worked in my life, and the second is the Atteberry book to help us all travel the “Hard Road Journey”.

Other things have appeared on a regular basis, like short sermon series, regular sharing from a devotional site called “Connections”, and mission stories, either from my past, or what is happening currently.  And from so many people’s feedback I know that God is using these articles to be a blessing in people’s lives.

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There is a verse in Psalms that talks about “the world is watching us”, which reminds us that we are to be a testimony of faith to others as we live our lives and as people see us for who we really are.  I am humbled and amazed that in this first year of my blogging, that over 10,000 visits have been made to my site.

And so I guess my mother was right that I have a story to tell that others would be interested to hear.  And I thank my wife Jill who was the one who really prompted me to start this blog.  Most of all, I thank my God, who continues to work His miracles in me and through me and it is really His story I am telling.  And then I say thank you to my audience for your continued faithfulness in coming back to read these articles.

It has been a great first year.
Let’s all look forward to another good year to come.

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