A Year in the Books: My First Blogiversary

IMG_1837 A year ago today, I started this blog.  I prayed and sweated and celebrated and finally made my little project public to the world.  So much has happened since then. Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride, whether it’s been all year or you’re jumping in today: thank you.

In November, I quoted CS Lewis from the Chronicles of Narnia, proclaiming that this blog was an adventure “further up and further in.” I said no to my fears of rejection and said yes to following the call Jesus placed on my heart, the call to write.

“That’s what we’re doing here- trusting Jesus, climbing up, racing through the fields of further up and further in.  There’s more to see than what’s in front of us, there’s more to Jesus than what we know, there’s more to ourselves than we’re willing to believe.  I want to chase that, the land I have been looking for all my life.  Further up and further in.”

In December, I shared some stories about Wilderness, my roommates, and my best friends.  It was a month of celebrating friendships.

In January, I introduced Throwback Thursday, a short lived series featuring journal entries from my IMG_3905angsty preteen years (I was a no doubt a more talented writer at 12 than I am now).  I both wallowed in andcelebrated my singleness (okay so not that much has changed in a year…) I attempted to live in the present while entering my last semester of college, hoping to set aside my workaholic nature, I dreamed “to live in the present, in the fragile promise that lies between January and May.”  I published some more TBTs, swooning over the boyfriends of 2003 (they were so cute and sweet).  Lastly, of course, I talked about Wilderness some more, celebrating the newest class of backpacking guides.

 

In February, I published some more TBTs and started another shortly lived project called Chasing Dreams.  This was the time full of trial & error, figuring out what kind of writing I wanted to do.  A year in, I think I’m still trying to figure it out.  I was also in a powerful season of reconciliation that led me into approaching Lent in a new way.  I spent a lot of time talking about things that I’m bad at (like sharing and being nice.)

In March, I swallowed my pride for the first of many times, and told you how hard college was for me, and I gushed some more about how much I love the mountains, hoping to prepare campers for the best week of their lives.  And then, something significant happened.  I figured out that I actually wanted to be a teacher.  After months of hating my teaching internships, I finally had a new placement at a new school (s/o to UT Elementary), my heart for teaching developed.  I realized this was where I wanted to be.  This was the beginning of something big.

In April, people actually started to read this blog.  I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher went viral, and the Huffington Post reached out and asked if they could publish my piece as well.  I spent days and weeks just watching my stats rise to unimaginable numbers.  Previously, I had been pumped when 600 people read a post.  150,000 people started reading my writing.  All of the sudden, the pressure of having a blog that people read hit me.  It was hard to keep writing after writing something successful.  How could anything else reach those kind of views?  My next post had maybe 100 views and 0 comments.  What a rollercoaster of emotions.

teacher

In May, the plethora of negative comments (along with many encouraging comments) still rolling in from I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher led me to write Why I Write in the Classroom, which still rates as my second most read piece, only because it links directly from the first successful post.  I then told you about some books and my thoughts on graduation, and peaced out for summer.

In June, I was traveling through Europe and was outraged about the way my Christian friends were speaking about Caitlyn Jenner.  I got political and edgy and used the word shit online for the first time.  It was the only thing I wrote this summer, and it was a turning point in my writing.  I published it on the Huffington Post as well, taking advantage of the new and exciting platform I had available.

In July, I gave a quick summary of my summer and published an old piece on Wilderness, relishing in every moment spent on the mountain tops.

As I walk away from Wilderness and into “real life,” (although I am convinced that there will never be any life more real than what’s lived on a mountain), I walk away as a woman of confidence and courage, ready to live life to the fullest.  Because life is not lived on the peak, but rather, in the valleys.  And as I tearfully descend back into the lower regions, I am better because of it.  Because I know what is above, and my eyes will forever see through new lenses.  Because I know what it is like to be afraid, and to be brave, and to live in true community, and lessons learned here are not easily forgotten.

In August, I started a new job and moved into a new apartment and started a new and foreign way of life.  I wrote a grand total of 0 blog posts.  Whoops.

In September, I wrote about some of those struggles that I’m still facing.  Post-grad life is hard and confusing and overwhelming, no matter how much I love my new job and all of my students.  I’m in a new phase of life, and I’m still trying to figure out the balance of writing and teaching and finding a community and prioritizing my time with Jesus.  The number of blog posts has significantly decreased, but the rewards of being a teacher are immense.

In October, I agin wrote nothing on this blog.  I spent a big portion of my semester sharing all of my teaching adventures and ideas on my teaching blog.

Now, here we are, full circle, back to November.  This past year has been an adventure and a rollercoaster.  I cannot express how thankful I am for all of the support and encouragement I have received.  I am overwhelmed.  Thank you thank you thank you.


Why I Write in the Classroom

In April I wrote, “I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher,” and it went viral.  (Well, I don’t actually know the definition of viral, but as far as anything that I’ve ever written goes, the 100,000 views and publication at the Huffington Post puts it at the viral level in my books.)

Amidst the encouraging comments and shares and exciting buzz, there were a handful of negative comments.  Quite a few people asked, “how do you have time to blog while teaching?!”  Most of these questions were passive aggressive, suggesting that I was being irresponsible/bringing personal work into the classroom.  I have three responses to this question.  Number one, I wrote that article as a student teacher, there were days when I had more time than I knew what to do with.  So to put it eloquently, hop off.  Number two, I wrote that part of that post while in the classroom.  What writer sits down and writes a whole piece to perfection in one sitting?  Maybe some do, but certainly not me, and that’s not the writing process we teach our students either.  I started that post in the classroom, and finished it sitting on my bed, where most of my writing happens.

Thirdly, and this is the more important response, it is important and valuable for us, as teachers, to write in the classroom.  More than that, it is important for us to showcase to our students all of the skills that we are trying to convince them are important to hold on to as lifelong learners.  If I tell my students that writing is valuable, and then they never see me writing, what are my words worth?

I write in the classroom because I want my students to see the power that words hold.  I write in the classroom because I want to invite my students in to a world made better by the responsible expression of feelings.  I want my students to live in a world where they know they can be heard, where they know that words will bring about power and freedom and joy and change.

I have a confession: right now, as I type this, I am….in the classroom.  There are students in here,  *gasp* and they are engaged in their own writing projects.  They walk up to me and ask what I’m writing about, and I walk up to them and ask what they’re writing about.  When I was published on the Huffington Post, we shared that joy together and I read it aloud to them.  They have asked me several times this week I have written anything new yet, and many of them have explored my blog on their own time.  Yesterday I was able to share a piece of my writing with a student to use as a mentor text, and it was so exciting for both of us.

I write in the classroom because our classroom is a community in which we take risks, chase our dreams, and share our true selves with each other.  My true self is my best self, and I want to share my best self with my students.  And my true self, my best self, is full of ideas and words and phrases that just must be written down.  And what a valuable experience it is for ten and eleven year olds to firsthand witness the compulsive habits of someone who finds identity in being a writer.

It is widely accepted that everyone learns differently, so why is it so hard to accept that everyone teaches differently?  I cannot imagine teaching in a class restricted by four walls and everyone else’s idea of what teaching should be.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go conference with a student about my writing before it’s published.



The Basics

Thanks for all of the support on our launch day yesterday!  This is such an exciting time for me- my little baby has launched.  Welcome to my long awaited, official blog, erintaylorgreen.com

Yesterday I shared with you some of my heart behind this, the fear and the expectation and the excitement.  Today I just want to say thank you.  Thank you to those of you who have believed in my and encouraged me and pushed me to pursue my writing.  Thank you for giving me the support that I have needed to believe in myself.  Thanks for being at the other end of my rope, calling me higher.

I also wanted to take today to share with you the logistics on this blog. What you can expect from me, and what kind of things you’re going to find here.

Why I’m here

I’m here because I love to write and I love the Gospel, and this is my way to share it.  I’ve always love to write, but I haven’t always believed that I could be a writer.  But God has called me out of my fear, and into risk- so here I am.  I’m here because Jesus has called me to write.

What you can expect from me

You can expect me to write about things that matter, things that make my heart cry, “yes!” and things that break my heart and things that make me think and make me believe truer things.  I promise to be genuine, real, and honest.  I promise to lay it all out there, just like it is.  Raw, real, and open.  I promise to not pretend that I have all of my sh*t together, because I most certainly don’t.  I want to talk about real things and start conversations that matter, that grow us closer to Jesus.  I will post regularly, but never at the expense of genuine words.  I can assure you that you will never find words written here that don’t come from my heart.

What you will find here

I will write about the things that I am passionate about, not just in my own life, but the ideas and beliefs and truths that are worthy of taking precedent in all of our lives.

  • The Gospel & living a life with Jesus
  • the mountains & living a life of adventure
  • navigating through college & (soon to be) life after
  • being a mentor, a teacher, & a Young Life leader

Apart from my writing, I’ve included some book recommendations and resources that I hope will help and encourage you in your walk with Jesus, and resources that will help plan content for Young Life club talks and campaigners studies.  My ministry is a huge part of my life, and I know is also a huge part of some of your lives, so I want to share that with you.

 

If you haven’t already, feel free to explore the blog.  If you’re unfamiliar with Young Life, or Wilderness, or even with me– read a little bit.  This is a brand new project, and there is lots of learning for me to do.  Leave a comment, send me an email– let me know what you think.  Want to read about something in particular?  Let me know- I’d love to write about it.

 

Thanks for joining me.  Next week will kick off on Monday with the blog’s first content post and giveaway!  Stay tuned.


Further Up and Further In

I have two big fears.  One of them is heights.  (I know, super inconvenient for someone who spends all summer climbing mountains).  I hate being at the top of tall things, I stay far away from edges, and I hate rock climbing.  Rock climbing is the worst- it absolutely terrifies me.  It’s nothing that I would ever choose to do.  In fact, there are lots of things that I would rather do- run through I-35 Friday at 5pm, give birth to twins, eat a mouthful of cinnamon, sock wrestle a tiger…kidding.  Kind of.  I just really hate it.

As a backpacking guide at Wilderness Ranch, we must be proficient in rock climbing.  I have to know how to set up a belay, tie knots strong enough to hold a semi truck, and stay holding onto the end of that rope, belaying for three hours, as kids climb up a terrifyingly tall cliff.  And worst of all, you guessed it- I have to know how to climb, also.  I dread it.

With a lot of scary things, it’s the moment before that’s the most nerve-racking.  Cliff jumping- the moment right before you launch yourself into the air.  Roller coasters- it’s the moment after they lock those bars in place right in front of you, just before that car goes from 0 to 120 mph.  My stomach is in knots just thinking about it.  With a lot of things, it’s the anticipation.  Not with rock climbing.  Starting is fine.  Easy, really.  The hard part is when you get half way up, and you realize you’re stuck.  You don’t know where to go.  You’re dangling from a terrifying height, and you can’t climb back down.

During every climb, I get to a place where I don’t know how to go up.  I’m harnessed into the belay system, I started climbing, but now I’m face to face with the actual rock, my muscles are shaking, I don’t know where to put my foot, and I panic.

I just sit (stand? hang?) there, face to face with the rock, unable to move.  Frozen in fear.  I cling to the rock, shaking, because I’m not yet convinced that the rope is going to hold me when I let go.  I don’t trust the rope or my belayer enough to climb up.  I don’t trust my own muscles enough to reach for that next ledge.  And so I stay there, clinging to the rock, crying.  Sobbing.  I just want to go back down.

But there’s no going down.  No one is letting the rope back down- I couldn’t get to the bottom if I wanted to.  The only place to go is up.  No matter how long it takes me to come to that realization, it’s still the only option.  I have to keep moving.  I have to trust that rope, to let go of that rock with one hand and reach for something higher.

I calm down.  I reach my fingers up, grasping to loose rock, finding a grip, and full of terror, I reach my foot up, pressing my entire weight into that tiny foothold.

It doesn’t hold.

Rock fragments tumble down beneath me.  My feet fall.

I lose my grip, and my white knuckled fingers spin out of reach from the rock.  I lose control.  But I don’t fall more than a couple inches.  I never do.  I don’t plummet to my death like I’m always convinced I will- I remain there, spinning slightly, but still on that rope, still right next to that cliff.

Because the rope holds.

And when I stop spinning, when my hands and feet can grasp onto that cliff again, my option is still the same.  Up.

 

Stepping out and starting a blog, sharing my writing with the world, feels a lot like that.  I’m clinging to the side of a cliff, knowing that the only place to go is up.  Knowing that I have to take that next step, I have to take a risk, I have to trust that the rope will hold.

Jesus has called me here, called me to share my words, share my story, and ultimately, share HIS gospel.  And it’s terrifying.  Rejection, embarrassment, risk of plummeting to my death- all of the fears swirling around through my head, yelling at me to take a step back.  But it is He who has called me here, and He is the one standing at the end of that rope, calling me up, calling me to take that next step, calling me to trust.  I can only cling to comfort and safety and control for so long.  Because there’s no going back down.  Jesus has made up His mind, has called me to something greater, and I’m ready to trust.  Ready to see if that rope he has will hold.

And I believe that it will.  Every.  Single.  Time.

So this is my risk.  This is my stepping out.  I believe that Jesus will hold me, sustain me, and call me higher.  I might slip.  I might lose my footing.  But the rope will hold.  Jesus will hold.

 

One of my favorite lines from the Chronicles of Narnia is in the last book, The Last Battle.  (Have you read it?  It’s great.)  Aslan calls the children and the Narnians, “further up and further in.”

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” – CS Lewis, The Last Battle

That’s what we’re doing here- trusting Jesus, climbing up, racing through the fields of further up and further in.  There’s more to see than what’s in front of us, there’s more to Jesus than what we know, there’s more to ourselves than we’re willing to believe.  I want to chase that, the land I have been looking for all my life.  Further up and further in.

My hope and prayer for this blog is that you would encounter Jesus in a new way.  That these words would not be my own, but they would be His, and His glory would be proclaimed.  I pray that you would see Him in your own lives the way that I have seen Him in mine.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  I don’t know what’s ahead, what’s at the top of that ledge, but Jesus does.  Follow Him with me- the adventure begins today.  Further up and further in.

 

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”  Psalm 56:3

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.  And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.” -Hillsong United, Oceans