I can hardly believe it’s a year ago today that I timidly pressed “Publish” on my first post here on this blog. I had no idea what I was doing, or what to expect, and I wasn’t sure if I would stick with it. I just felt led to write, so I signed up to join a group studying the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig, which seems a bit presumptuous, given that almost all of my writing until that point had been journalling, which I had never shared with anyone!
Despite that, the group welcomed me with open arms, and 365 days and 157 posts later, it seems I’m sticking with writing!
This year of blogging has presented so many great opportunities. I’ve loved taking part in some amazing blogging communities like Five Minute Friday, and having the chance to be part of the book launch team for Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book The Happiness Dare. A year ago I didn’t even know what a book launch team was!
I’ve also had the chance to contribute to a book- a compilation of Five Minute Friday posts which will be released on September 26th.
The most amazing part of blogging has definitely been the community. When I started this I had no idea if anyone would even read anything I wrote. I certainly didn’t expect to make actual friendships, and I have been so blessed by your encouragement, your comments and your wonderful posts too.
All of this brings me to a confession. Some of you may have worked this out, and this feels a bit weird and awkward, but I feel the time is right to tell you.
Carly Benson is not my real name.
As I said, I was basically clueless about blogging when I began writing here. I decided to write under a different name partly because of the work I do with young people. I didn’t want them to be able to find the blog and discover information which I didn’t necessarily want to share. But also, if I’m honest, it was a form of self-protection. It was scary for me to put my words out there, not knowing who would read them or how they would be received, and so it seemed safer to do it under a different name.
As connections have deepened and friendships have formed I have felt increasingly bad about not being open about my real identity. I actually had a post ready to explain all this about six months ago but the day before I was planning to publish it, I felt that God was saying it wasn’t time yet.
I think it is time now. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that my word for the year is “Surrender” and I think that God is calling me to surrender this protection- that I need to own my words, own my story, be myself and not be ashamed.
I should make it clear that everything I have shared on this blog is true- all of my experiences, opinions etc. The person you have got to know is the real me- I was just writing under a different name. If I knew then what I know now, I would have used my real name from the start, and I wish I had. I feel that the longer I leave it, the more difficult it is going to become, so I am going to make the switch and write under my real name from now on.
I still don’t want to attach my full name to this blog because of my concern about young people I work with discovering it, but I am going to write under my real first name, which is Lesley, and I’m happy for people to know my full name in other contexts (email, Facebook etc.) I just don’t want to put it on here.
I thought I’d make a short video to introduce myself to you properly.
So, that’s the awkward bit over. I hope you’ll continue joining me here over the coming year.
Just to finish, if you want to catch up on some highlights of the year, here are the top 5 posts with the most views and comments:
- Fervent Prayer– reflections on the book “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer
- What Do You Do When You’ve Done All You Can?– reflections on supporting a friend with mental health issues. This was a post from the heart and, although it’s a post I wish I didn’t have the knowledge to write, I was blown away by the response- that God used it to help other people and to enable them to share their stories.
- Stories to Bring You Cheer– funny stories of children’s responses to Bible stories. Most of my posts are pretty serious so I’m quite glad that this more light-hearted one has made the top 5.
- What Makes You Happy?– reflections on The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee and the different styles of happiness- take the test to find out yours here.
- Protecting Our Children From Sexual Abuse– another post that I wish wasn’t necessary, but at the same time I’m glad a lot of people read it as it has links to some useful resources that can help to protect children.