Dear Friend,

You may not have noticed but I have been blogging for almost a complete year now! In addition to this upcoming anniversary (which actually isn’t for another 2-3 weeks) is the arrival of my 100th post, in fact this is the 99th. So my next post will be very exciting and will not only focus on the number 100 but reflect on the past year and everything that has happened. All of that being said, I hope that in this NEXT year of blogging I will have more than 100 posts… maybe more like 300… but that might be a bit ambitious.

Now an assignment I should probably be working on right now… as opposed to writing to you is actually about why I like to write. My brain is a little blank about what to write at the moment, so I thought I’d blog since this IS why I like to write… I like putting thoughts and feelings down on paper and while this technically isn’t on paper (although I suppose you could print these posts out and make a little booklet or something) it’s a form of expressing myself through words. What you may or may not know is that this blog was inspired by the beginnings of another blog (one that is virtually non-existent today) and that is the blog of my dear friends Gennie and Malinda. Now in late September, early October they revealed to me that they had just started a blog (only one post at that point, but still , they had started) this information intrigued me enough that I went to read it myself and was so inspired that I decided this was the hobby for me. After that, their time to blog decreased (after all, it was senior year, no one has time) and eventually posting ended. Malinda, however, now has her own blog that she’s been keeping up with…but you can ask her about that yourself. In fact, the next section of this post is, in some ways, a response to one of her posts. I really can’t explain why I like writing without letting you know that I absolutely detest writing for school. It’s sad, I know, but the second I HAVE to write, the joy is sucked right out of it. That being said, I can’t imagine myself ever NOT writing. Writing is in my blood. I journal, write letters to people (letters that are never sent or read by anyone other than me,) blog, write mostly bad poetry, attempt to write novels, I even write lists like no other. Blogging is a way in which I express to others what I would say to their face if my mouth worked in the same way as my brain. Now that may seem a little weird, but sometimes I feel that I am physically incapable of holding a decent conversation. Now I’m fine if the other person (you) are doing the majority of the talking or if I know you REALLY well, but in general, you should know that there is a mental block that stops the words from traveling from my subconscious to my mouth… and sometimes even to my conscious mind. If there is a person in front of me, my brain completely shuts off, the second they walk away, however, I feel like I overflow with conversation… except that this time I’m conversing with my mental version of them, not them in person…. so the conversations are, of course, completely biased and without reality. Blogging (to get back to the point) allows me to have a “real” conversation with you as a reader. While you are not physically in front of me…and this is currently a highly one-sided conversation, I can express those thoughts which I would be willing to share in a conversation that never seem to find their way out of my mouth in actual conversation. (Oddly enough, this post is becoming a call for more reader participation.)  I view this blog as a conversation of sorts, except you aren’t returning my letters… sure this is fine, after all it IS a blog not an actual letter… but I’d love the chance to respond to some of your ideas and thoughts. You may not have noticed, but there are three concrete ways in which you can become an active reader: 1)Subscribe to the blog, this isn’t that hard, I’m pretty sure you just press a button and enter your email address and all it means is that you will receive an email when I post. This not only reminds you to read my post, but lets me know the number of people who regularly view my blog. 2)Rate posts! At the bottom of posts there should be a place to rate the post, this allows me to get a feel for which posts are enjoyable and this understanding “guides” the conversation if you will. 3)Comment, Comment, Comment! This is super easy, after reading a post just jot a note saying (“I loved your description of…” or “Mandi, I’m a little confused about…” or even “Have you ever thought of writing about…?”)

The fourth question Chad asks me to ponder in my reading response (I know, you had forgotten that I was even responding to a class assignment here) is regarding writing as a spiritual response. Go figure, but this is actually relevant to the third section of this post (which I was planning on discussing even before I saw the assignment.) I have been having some weird experiences lately, many of which I won’t discuss here, but they all sort of led me to a really amazing spiritual experience today. Earlier I mentioned Malinda’s blog and in one of posts she poses the question “Why did God bring me here?” Now that is more of a paraphrase than a direct quote, but her wondering words are relevant to all of us. Why did God put us HERE. For Malinda and I “here” is EMU but for others “here” varies . Why am I HERE? As someone who feels a  personal call towards a particular vocation, this isn’t a question I expected to have coming into the college experience, I thought my reason for being here was to get a jump start on the plan God had for my future. Lately, however, I’ve been wondering why God brought me here to EMU rather than EWU like I had originally planned. These questions led to some prayer, and before you know it I was smacked in the face. Not literally of course, but this morning it was as if God smacked me over the head with a bunch of stuff from the past few weeks (especially in this past week.) Desires I’ve had to change situations, situations that have been out of my control, words I’ve wanted to say for a LONG time that now seem relevant to my life (and speakable?) I couldn’t believe the number of “things” (to use a general word that barely describes what I’m trying to express, if at all) that suddenly came to mind… it was mind boggling. My response, of course, was to journal/pray. I wrote out my thoughts first so I could sort them out and try to see where my thoughts were leading me before writing a prayer. If you look back to the post I wrote about convention, in which I describe the types of prayers Scott Roth discussed in one of the seminars I attended, you will see “written prayer as one of the prayers listed. This act of written prayer is encouraged not only because it allows you to look back on this prayer and see how God has answered it, but, for me at least, is a better way of communicating what I want to say (although I’m pretty sure God would understand even if I said a bunch of gibberish.) For this particular prayer I decided I wanted to pull in some scriptures and began to flip through my “used” bible (if you don’t know what that means go look at my senior Presentation “A Journey Through the Wilderness.”) As I paged through, I kept seeing scriptures that pertained to what I was asking God, it was AMAZING!!! I love when this sort of thing (to use the damned word, yet again) happens! This call to God for guidance in my words and actions was affirmed as I prayed! While this prayer isn’t dead, I’m still, in many ways, waiting for an answer, I could tell that everything would be OK, I could feel God’s presence with me in that moment. In that moment, my writing was spiritual…

Love, Mandi Jo