stay at home vs. working.


Every single woman in the world knows what that post title is about, right?

Is there a longer standing feud in all of womanhood?
I really can't think of one. 

I think every single woman I have ever met has a strong opinion on the subject and can, at a moments notice, can give you a numbered list on why one is better (or more "right") than the other. 

I have read blogs that swear that if a woman does any kind of work outside of what you would deem normal housework than she is going against Biblical laws.  Period.   They believe that women are there to cook, clean and take care of the family.  Done.  And these are real people...I know you know people like this.

I have known other people that claim that stay at home moms are just lazy women who won't get out there and work for a living.  I have always thought that clearly these women have never stayed home to be "lazy". 
Then there are all sorts of in betweens out there.  And honestly, I have always been kind of confused about what God really wants from us women.  I mean...does He want our time spent solely taking care of our family? Does He want us out there working to relieve some of the stress of our husbands?   The only concrete answers I could come away from with this was that I knew that our husbands are to be the head of the household...and that things should fall in line behind that shield of guidance and wisdom.  As for what our entire role as wife and mother was to look like...I really had no idea.  

For ME...I always knew that I was going to be a stay at home mom.  I basically told Doug on our second date "Look, I have no intention of being a career woman.  So if that is something you want in a wife and you are not ok with me staying at home with our children...then this should be our last date".  

Needless to say he still married me.

I know several Jesus loving women who just stay at home with their kids.  And I don't me "just" as in there is nothing to it, I mean "just" as in they don't have a side job like me.  They know they are doing what God has set out before them for their lives.  

I also know several women who I know to be God fearing and in love with the Lord...and they have excellent careers.  And these are women who I KNOW seek the Lord in all they do and wouldn't glance over asking for guidance in the area of working outside the home. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that I was confused by the variety in my life.  I couldn't have told you what the common thread among them all was...and then like every other thing I have learned recently...it hit me through scripture. 

You may have heard this one before.  It goes something like this.   My notes are in parenthesis:

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
(She is unique and hard to find!)

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.  
(He can trust her totally!!!!)

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
(Her focus and intent is good)

She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
(She does not begrudge her household chores)

She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
(She goes the extra mile for quality and good bargains)

She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
(She does what she knows has to be done...not lazy)

She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
(Good with her money and looks for wise opportunities)

She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
(She is energetic and ready to go!)

She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
(She is a hardworking good steward...uses her time wisely)

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle. 
(She is diligent and consistent at working.)

She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
(She looks out for those in need)

 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
(She provides carefully for the future)

 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 
(She is elegant)

Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.  
(She is well known for good reasons)

She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 
(She makes takes advantage of good opportunities)

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.  
(She is poised)

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
(She is wise)

She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness. 
 (She takes care of her home)

Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying
 (She is praiseworthy)

Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.
(She is rare and distinguished)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 
(She follows the Lords way)

Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates. 
 (She is honored)

Now I, probably like you, have read that a million times.  And before when I read it...I thought...well isn't that special...who can be like that? Really?  What a nice thought but how can this really apply to my life today?  I mean maybe I can try to be like that in some areas...but all of them?  Are you kidding me? 

And then the last time I read it...it smacked. me. in. the. face. 

While this proverb IS a list that God sets before us to aim for...I feel like this last reading let me see another layer to it.  And from now on, when I read it...this is what will be playing in the background of my mind...

It's about balance.  It's about family harmony.  It's about what makes your family tick the way that God intended it.  After reading it I realized that (I don't think) there is a set plan out there for everyone.  I think God has a plan for each and every family and it is up to us to seek His will in the matter of staying at home vs working.  It is about what is BEST for our particular family.

To ME...my balance is staying at home...while sewing for a small living...while managing my house...while taking care of my husband...while taking care of my kids.

Your balance may not look anything like mine...and you can still be in God's will for your life.  We don't have to look the same.  I think God is awesome that way.

I kept getting this word picture in my head...of God holding me in one hand...and all my jobs in His other hand.  To me that represents doing what He has called me to do and Him doing the balancing...not me because I am doing what He calls me to do. 
The only time I am unbalanced...when my household is out of whack and when I am going nuts...is when I am trying to hold the things that God was holding for me...or trying to hold things that aren't on His list for me.  Does that makes sense to you?

  I guess what I am trying to say...is that I came away from this last reading of Proverbs 31 with this:   As a wife and mom we have to consider the following in every choice we make...does what I pursue(job, commitments, hobbies) bring my family harmony or strife?  Will this choice bring my family happiness or stress?  Will this choice bring my husband pride or embarrass or undermine him and his role as provider?  Will my choice benefit my family in a way that God wanted or will I cause consequences that were never intended?

I now understand the proverbs 31 woman to be a wife who is protective of her family's well being and her husbands reputation, as well of her own.  She seeks ways to add to her family's wealth so that she can help others too...she seeks God's will in all she does and because of that God blesses her in all she does...she brings good to her household and her children and her husband because of it.  She makes choices that keeps God's will for her life in the center...and that still leaves her able to pursue business and work and charity and friends and all sorts of other things.  She pursues only what God intends and not what the world is telling her she should.  She defines herself by the Lords standards and not by the worlds.

All in all...there is no clear cut recipe.  You have to figure out what God wants for you.  Maybe that means you work...maybe that means you stay at home.  Whatever brings that balance and harmony.

And maybe, just maybe, we should stop worrying about what others are doing and why...and worry more about what WE are doing and why. 

  The only clear cut thing is to see what God wants.  If He wants it for you...then He makes the way and not you.  Can I encourage you in that?  I KNOW what it is like to have to make a choice that doesn't make sense to the world but makes perfect sense to God.

When I had Moses, Doug and I were both working but I KNEW I was supposed to quit my job.  I KNEW that God had called ME to be the primary caregiver to my children.  Doug agreed with me, making less than 15,000 a year.  And I quit...not knowing how we would pay for a single thing.

 We were told, by more than one person, how foolish we were to give up my job just because I thought that "no one could take care of my child as well as I could".  To me, this was not a thought but a fact. 

Two days after I quit my day job, I got a call from a woman that I had never met.  She wanted to know if I could nanny her two girls.  And I could do it from my home and hers.  And I could bring my baby!
(Surely this was God saying "I love you, thanks for obeying!")

And let me tell you...there are a string of events that I KNOW have happened because of that act of obedience...Doug got a promotion soon after...we moved...we bought our first home...I started a legit business...we had another sweet baby...Doug was promoted again...my business is WAY more than I could have ever dreamed of or imagined...and I am sure there are more blessings on the way so long as we continue to consider HIS path for us.  All because we made a decision that looked foolish to the world...but made perfect sense to the One with the plan.

So maybe this is just a journal entry for me to reflect on when I lose my way again, as I often do and that is OK.  As usual..it feels good to get this out there...otherwise I would have to go to bed again and think it over and over...now I can move on.  Hopefully, another lesson learned and another step to being a more like who God wants me to be.

As always...your input is treasured and welcome...and ugly anonymous comments will not be read or acknowledged. :)
xo
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41 comments:

elise said...

this was really great.
i'm feeling really meh today, trying to find the motivation to be the prov 31 wife i want to be, and falling short.
thanks for some refocusing:O)

carlisle clan conversation... said...

I love that God places Godly women with Godly wisdom in our paths through the most unique ways. I have played both roles as a working & SAHM. I know being A SAHM works best for us in this season, but I'm thankful for the reminder!

Ella's Mama said...

I loved your post. I thought I was suppose to be a stay at home mom and soon realized it was not for me. I am a teacher, so when I have my breaks I love to be with my daughter. But, I also value my time away from her, it makes me more appreciative of the time I am with her. I agree that there is not one road/path that is meant for everyone. We have to carve that out ourselves (with our husbands) and do what is right for us as a family.

I found your blog by accident and find myself drawn back to see what you are doing and read your thoughts. They have been very helpful this summer.

Sara in Lake Havasu

Ky said...

You know Crystal, I have always thought that the mum should stay home(at least for the early years)to be there for her children. To love them and nurture them. But, I have many friends who go back to work part time after they have their babies. Not immediately, but some time in the next 12 months. It works for them. Their children are happy, the extra income helps take the stress off the finances which of course helps to make mum and dad happier.
Thanks so much for sharing your insight into this passage. I've always felt like I fall incredibly short of the kind of woman that God expects, but you've helped me to see that I am doing things about right. I need to pull up my socks in some areas, and I am working on it.
It's great to know that it will be Ok.
Ky

Bethany said...

Thank you for this! What a beautiful devotional for moms who worry if they're making the "right" choice. So glad I found your blog!

Kelly said...

I have really struggled with this myself. I received my law degree around the same time our first son was born. I had every intention of staying home a few months and heading out to be a successful lawyer. Then, tragically, our son was born premature and due to do complications, died after 25 days. This changed my perspective on everything. When our second son was born 18 month to the day, the hour, and almost the minute of our first son's birth, I knew I would not miss one single second of his childhood. For ME, it was the right decision. I get a lot of snide or surprised comments when people discover I actually have a law degree and am staying home to raise our sons (we had a third). Really? I can't be educated and a stay at home mom? Even my parents constantly ask me when I'm going back to work. I'm fortunate enough that we don't need the extra income, but in any case, the decision is personal. I don't judge other women for their choice and I wish women, as a group, would stop judging each other. Thank you for your post--it really hit home for me.

Skamamama said...

i LOVE this post! so glad you shared your experiences & heart!

colleen banman said...

Thanks for sharing this Crystal! I was encouraged to take my pile of responsibilities, gifts, dreams and desires along with all my kidlers' needs and those of my husband and hand them all back over to God to help me balance. I have been feeling like I am spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. This is exactly what I needed to hear!!

Carey Clemons Bailey said...

thank you for the challenging words, with joy, carey!

Liz Taylor said...

I only wish you posted this when I was struggling with the decision a few months ago. I always wanted to stay home and be a mom to my little guy but was so scared on how to afford life and therefor continued writing for the magazine until he was 9 months old. Every morning there was a deep sadness in my heart. He went to the school right on my work campus and I could visit really whenever I wanted but it always made me sad. I prayed and prayed that somehow I could stay home, my husband got a huge promotion and I "retired" three weeks later (March 30, 2010). I was surprised how hard it was for me to finally let go. I guess I liked knowing I had a stable job if something happened to us. But it is the BEST decision and blessing I have ever had. I wish I could have taken the plunge long before but guess my faith was weak. Thanks so much for posting this. I will have to go back and read that scripture.
Liz
http://projectnaptime.blogspot.com/

Megan said...

I have recently found your blog and i loved the fact that your younger son and my daughter share the same birthday. I love to meet people with kids my kids age, makes things easier and funner. Ive been in church for a good part of my life. My husband not so much. We both want our daughter to grow up in church but we are having a hard time finding on in our area that we like. What you wrote tonight spoke to me. Ive never wanted a career. As far back as i can remember ive always just wanted to be a mom. My mom has told me thats what ive always wanted. Its not that i dont "want" to work its just thats not my "goal" in life. My husband has a job that allows me to be home with our daughter and I cherish every second of it. I love that I have seen everything for the first time that she has done it. Thank you so much for this really means alot to me. Now i know what to say to people that dont like that I am a SAHM. Thank you so much!

The Bonjour Family! said...

well said! I am so encouraged by this. I am also a stay at home mommy, and i truly believe this is God's plan for me and my family. thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom on this subject. I sure love your precious blog!! and I will continue coming back. :)

The Bonjour Family! said...

oh by the way.. i emailed you not long ago about the hoho monsters.. are you going to be having any more for sale anytime soon? I so want to get one for my 2 year old!! they are super super cute!

TJ said...

Hi, I have been reading you for over a year, but have never commented. Sorry.

One of my favorite things about you is your beliefs and the strength and devotion you have in them. You have inspired me to try harder to further develop my relationship with Heavenly Father.

I would like to share with you what my church believes about the family. I in no way intend this to be a means of proselytizing, I just thought you might find things you agree with in it.

http://lds.org/Static%20Files/PDF/Manuals/TheFamily_AProclamationToTheWorld_35538_eng.pdf

Alicia said...

Thank you for this post...a really great perspective and I appreciate your thoughts.

Andria Zoe Phillips said...

Straight to the heart girlfriend. I love this. For 2 reasons...1) I'm a stay @ home mom and sometimes (most of the time) struggle with that. 2) I have all types of girlfriends, working ones, ones that stay home and all in between and your words were simple and true. And truth, I've learned, is ALWAYS simple. The balance God intended is what's best! Thank you for this post!

Parrotts said...

A working mom thanks you. <3

Tameeka said...

Yup. Yup. And yup. I personally agree with you totally! This was a topic that was recently raised at my church ladies book club (hehe). And this was the conclusion that we came to! And on top of that I was having a similar "conflict" with myself just the other day. God is Good! Thank you Crystal. I think this may the first time i have commented but I love your blog and i read/ check daily! God Bless! I am totally cheering for you in a "You go girl" kinda way!
Love Meeks
Sry about the essay! :)

lindsey said...

i like your thoughts on this subject.

there's obviously no right or wrong in the working/stay at home debate...i've been a stay at home mom, a work from home mom, and a work outside the home mom, all depending on what was right for our family at the time. and like you said, our focus should be what's right for us, what we feel called to do, rather than what everyone else is doing.

and your dead on on your point about trusting God and obeying, even if it makes no sense to others...we've taken giant leaps of faith which our families and friends haven't always understood (and sometimes we haven't even understood at the time), but it's been for the best for us.

so yeah, another lesson learned.

Kim said...

Thank you so much for this. I literally started reading your blog 2 days ago. If you felt led to make that post know that part of it was God speaking to me through you. I really really needed it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!!! I see it the way you do...and really like it when folks can see or feel that there is no definitive right and wrong on this issue--that it varies according to each woman and each family...that both ways can be Godly/Biblical. While I agree with your emphasis on putting husband and children first, I would have preferred to see a little more mention of the needs of the woman, too. The way God made her is a consideration as well.

Big Yellow Dog said...

Great post! I'm still struggling with whether to stay at home or work. We found out I was pregnant with my son four months after my husband and I were married and I was still finishing my undergrad. I finally finished school last May and am now applying to graduate school. My goal is to get my master's and work part time as I can spend as much time at home as I can. I love being at home and I've had a whole summer at home with him (I will start work again full time when the school year starts) and have realized that I am just not made to be at home full time. I love him and I love spending meaningful time with him and taking care of him and my husband and our home, but being at home with him drives me crazy and I struggle to be productive. When I am working or was in school, I was so much more productive at home and really used the time I had at home with him in the morning, afternoon and evening to make it meaningful. I have always felt like I am a terrible mother because I just don't have that strong desire to be a full time, stay at home mama. Me working outside the home or being in school at least part time is much healthier for our little family than me being at home, at least right now. I've been praying about this for such a long time and am slowly coming to the realization that God made each of us uniquely and as long as I'm chasing after Him, then it's ok if I don't have the same desires or live the same life as other great mamas. Thanks for such an encouraging word!
Margaret

Matt and Amy said...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

After 11 years and 2 kids, I have come to understand that everyone makes the decision for different reasons and none of them is better than the other. I work one day a week now that the kids are older. I do most errands, cleaning, etc. while everyone is gone during the day. But I volunteer most of my time in other places - at church, scouts, in multiple schools (not just the ones my children attend), at the soup kitchen and in food pantries. All of these things are flexible around my family's needs but they are important to me. It has evolved into a calling - I am blessed that I don't have to work. We live within our means and feel fortunate that we can share with those less fortunate. And I am honored to have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a child struggling to read or one whose parents don't speak enough English to help with homework. (Did you ever think of that? I never considered that! I have met some very bright kids who struggle because parents don't speak enough English to help find a book at the library or read the instructions for a worksheet.) I am honored to fill grocery bags for families who can't make ends meet this month. Would the world stop turning if I didn't do these things? No - but I feel like I am doing what I was called to do. I have a master's degree and sometimes use my "professional" expertise in volunteer ways but the human connection of the simple things has been more rewarding than I could have imagined.

Amy said...

This is definitely a hot-button issue for a lot of people. I would LOVE to be a stay-at-home mom. Actually, working part-time might be perfect. However, that wasn't a choice I was able to make. I am a full-time working mom who brings in the only income my family gets right now. Even if my husband is able to find a new job, it won't come with insurance. The insurance through my job pays 100% for my whole family. Not an easy thing to let go of.

It breaks my heart all the time to be apart from my child. I get so jealous of women who are able to be stay-at-home moms. I KNOW it is not an easy job. And yes, being a stay-at-home mom is a job just like any other. But I would cherish the opportunity to be with my child if I could. I don't get to participate in playgroups or attend fun classes with my child. When I get home from work, I have to focus on dinner and catching up all those little tasks I don't get to do during the day. It's like having TWO jobs sometimes.

Maybe someday I will get to have another child and be a stay-at-home mom. I hope God has that in the cards for me.

-Amy
Crafting by Candlelight

janimal said...

I agree with your perspective. Each one of us makes a decision that is best for our families. One is NOT better for another - we're all different.

Where I disagree, is that I don't think you are giving the majority of women enough credit. You wrote "I think every single woman I have ever met has a strong opinion on the subject and can, at a moments notice, can give you a numbered list on why one is better (or more "right") than the other." --- I think that now, more than ever, both SAHMs and working moms have more respect for the other lifestyle. My group of friends and acquaintances are varied in their choices to work or SAHM, and they are not judgmental of other choices.

Moms make sacrifices for their kids. Either sacrifice their careers, adult interaction, and income in order to spend time with their kids - or sacrifice that time with their kids to provide income and pursue a career. BOTH choices involve sacrifice.

Neither is "better". And I really believe that MOST women aren't as judgmental of other mom's choices as much as you think.

derekcindyterp said...

Wow, you have summed up SO well what I think that text means. It's not so much what the wife does, but why she does it and how she goes about it. All to the glory of God. :D

derekcindyterp said...

I just had to link this on facebook...I hope all my friends read it and pass it along... :)

Anonymous said...

Please don't forget that some of us don't have husbands! I have had the experience of being a stay at home mom, and I loved it! But I am now divorced and have no option but to work.

The Garcias said...

Crystal, this post is such a blessing to me today. I get so excited to hear about how God works in women's lives. I loved your recounting of how He has provided for your family in the midst of what the world would view as "foolish" choices. That is just the way He works. Praise God! Or as my husband and I like to say, "I hear the glory bells!" Meaning--you are giving God glory for His work. :) It is our pursuit to be obedient to that still small voice of His, and let Him work through our obedience. I am recently a SAHW/M by choice, in an area of the country where few women are choosing to stay home because of the cost of living. We are in the process of selling our beautiful (to us) home, in order to make life work with a new baby and me at home. A lot of people think we are plain crazy. But we know this is what God is calling us to.
(I like to say that I am a "stay-at-home-wife AND mom" because I can be such a better wife to my hubs now that I am not working the 8 to 5.)
Blessings on your family as you continue to seek after Him!
PS. I just adore your craftiness--you are truly gifted. I drop by here often to get a daily dose of creative inspiration (though I never actually find the time to DO anything about it).

Mainly a midwife said...

That's a great post. I've always thought that it was ok to do either...whatever a woman is called to do. For me.. if I worked full time my family would completely get the shaft with the hours I would have to work. But I am lacking in so many ways being a stay at home mom. I love the mom part but the household stuff I'm so not good at. I always feel crappy when I read Prov 31.

Simply EC said...

This was such an encouraging post to me. I have been trying to get back to leaning on God for all things, my marriage working, my patience as a mom to a two year old and my business pursuits on the side. And I am finding that surprisingly, (although it shouldn't be a surprise) that the Lord is blessing me immesurably the more I lean on Him. Thank you for this wonderful encouragement today!

Kristin said...

This was such a great post! When my Mom died (she used to keep my girls for me), I knew it was not the right thing for me to go back to work. But I did. And when I quit, everyone expected me to find a new job, but I knew the right thing was for me to stay home. I didn't think we could make it either, but my husband got a raise and we have been doing way better than we were with both of us working.

Now I struggle with feeling guilty about working on my business, but doing something like that just for me, makes me a better person and a better Mom. Thanks for the encouragement!

patricia e said...

A great post ~ There are so many things that come into play with having children and figuring out how it will all work when it comes to being home with them or not. I was able to stay home with all three of mine. I know it was God's decision then. I tried to be the "perfect mom and wife", but I know I fell short on many occasions. I think it's such a learning experience no matter which path we take.

Rachel said...

I couldn't agree more! Thank you for posting this!

It's encouraging to see how God moved when you obeyed. There are a few areas in my life that I've been struggling with because of various fears, and just wondering "how is this going to work out?". But after reading your account of just jumping in with both feet, not matter the fears, and how you did what you could, and God took care of the rest. That's exactly what I needed to read today.

Thank you so much!

Tara said...

great post!

Margaret said...

Great post. I feel God's will is different for different women. I stayed at home with my oldest 2 while I completed my degree. In August, of last year, I started a full time internship to finish my degree. I was also pregnant with our 3rd child. My (keep in mind I said my) plan was to graduate and stay home while I worked on my masters. After I started my internship, my site supervisor started recommending my for jobs that would be coming open in the near future. I was loving my internship (more than I expected), so my husband and I started discussing and praying about whether I should go to work if the right job came available. We prayed and discussed it for a month. On a Tuesday night we were talking about it, and decided I would go to work if it was the right job. The next day a part time job opening came available where I was doing my internship. My husband and I had already discussed how great it would be if that job could be where I was doing my internship. I knew I was supposed to take it. I was hired on Thursday. I hadn't even finished my degree yet, but they got approval to hire me since I was almost finished. I know in my heart it is God's will for me. There is a possibility I will be going full time in the near future, which is something else we have prayed about and discussed.

Do I ever feel guilty or struggle with the choice? Of course. But I think it is the enemy's way of trying to talk me out of doing God's will in my life.

The time I have with my kids is that much more special to me know. We cook dinner together every night and we spend as much quality time as we can together.

Plus it helps that they have a great babysitter (their Papa).

We have found great balance.

modernmom said...

I have been struggling with this very thing. May I copy your version of Proverbs 31 to post on my blog (with proper reference, of course)?

EveryBuddy Dreams said...

This was a great post, Proverbs 31 have put some things in perspective for me. I've been blessed with the privilege to stay @ home with my 4 year old & 1 1/2 year old. Due to circumstances beyond my control when my 4 year old was born, after my maternity leave was done, I was faced w/the challenge of leaving my @ the time sick child with a sitter or resigning from my position to take care of her. Without much hesitation I opted to stay home with her. This was a blessing in disguise. I've been home since, trying to be a mom, wife, and small business woman. I sometimes think, am I putting too much on my husband, should I go back to work, or is this what God has set out for us as a family. I love taking care of my family and I love to use my God given talents as well not only for fun but also as a way to make a living. I'm still asking God for divine direction and in my heart of hearts I do feel that I'm supposed to be home with my children, taking care of home, my husband as well nurturing my creativity.

EveryBuddy Dreams said...

oh yes one more I thing I forgot, when u said" "no one could take care of my child as well as I could", this was the exact same thing I said to my husband and everyone around me when explaining why I would not be returning to work. There was absolutely no one that could do a better job than me with her. I believed this to be true and a fact!! I'm new to the blogging world & don't know how I stumbled upon your blog last week but I'm sure glad I did. You love God and it's evident in your blog and that makes my heart smile :D -Chyna

KMonti said...

I started my blog "dressedwithstrength.blogspot.com" because of Prov 31. Great post!

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