women who inspire: carmen
This month, I'm excited to have Carmen Brown, a mum of five from Arizona, USA. She's a prolific Christian blogger and author of the book "By His Grace We Blog". I've never met Carmen in person, but I'm a member of a Facebook group she co-runs for Christian bloggers, and I have been incredibly blessed by the community she's built there.
Read on to find out why Carmen is a huge believer in blogging with purpose and the Christian writers that inspire her!
Hi, Carmen! What led you to start your blog?
"In short, God said. “Just write.” When He spoke, I had not picked up the pen for five years, so I assumed God was taking me back to journalling. Journalling my prayers, prophetic messages, and dreams was something that I was once very passionate about and always made time for. So I started journalling, but I was not content. A year later, I woke up from a dream that I was typing my words instead of writing, so I began typing my words for another year. But I still did not feel content. Then one day, my sister told me about blogging, which I had not heard of at the time. I was very intrigued by it, and after much research and prayer, Married by His Grace was created two months later."
Why focus on Christian blogging?
"There was never a question or doubt in my mind that my blog would be about anything else but writings based on my love for God. It was probably the most natural and easiest decision I have ever made in my life and for my blog. God is first in my life. He is my easiest, best, and simplest decision I make everyday and I wanted nothing more than to share that."
What were some of the biggest struggles you faced as a new Christian blogger?
"I would have to say: The discouragement. During the first six months, my husband was my biggest fan. He would constantly encourage me to continue. To be honest, I can't even tell you why. It’s not like we would have lost anything but the time that I invested. The blog was and is something I do because I love it. It’s not meant to be a source of income or to build my authorship. It was simply something the Lord told me to do. Through many tearful nights ranging from not knowing how to embed codes in Wordpress to how overwhelmed I felt in doing His will, my husband was a trooper and told me to not give up. And although he did an awesome job by constantly encouraging me, I knew I needed advice and mentorship from godly women through it. So I began using social media as a way to develop friendships with other bloggers. It’s one of the best decisions I made in blogging. It changed my entire perspective of what blogging is."
In your view, what are three foundational steps that every new Christian blogger should take?
"Without thinking too much about it, here are the first three things that come to mind:
- Build your relationship with God consistently.
- Build relationships with other people. You never know when you can be the encourager and when you need the encouragement."
Being a mum to five kids and blogging at the same time must be exhausting! What keeps you going?
"Sure is! But what’s crazy is that because I love blogging so much, it’s so easy to keep going. Don't get me wrong: There are some very overwhelming days, but those are the days where I stop what am doing and put everything down for the day. Although blogging has become a ministry to me, my first ministry is my home. If I am overwhelming myself to the point that I cannot focus on my family, then I will turn off my phone and computer so I can focus on them. I cannot write about being in a peaceful marriage and honouring parenthood if I am not living it out. Making sure I am focused on my priorities is very important to me. Somehow, that gives me more energy and determination to keep going than exercising, taking naps, or drinking immense amounts of coffee would."
How has God worked through your blog since you started it in 2016?
"Big ways! To most it may not look big, but to me, I cannot even begin to measure the abundance of what God has brought into my life through blogging. Blogging has given me many friendships that are focused on Christ. I have also developed a strong accountability with myself as a Christian. This blogging journey has had me realize how important it is to walk in His spirit, not in the flesh."
What inspired you to write the book “By His Grace We Blog”?
"When I first started blogging, I came across a statistic that brought me to tears. The statistic said that over 60% of bloggers fail. This made me think about how many of these may have started as Christian blogs but gave up due to discouragement. Within a few months of reading that statistic, I was writing to bloggers in the hopes of encouraging them. Soon after, the Lord put an unction in me to start writing a book. I never could have done it without His leading."
When was the book launched and how have responses to it been so far?
"The eBook was launched January 2017. On its one-year anniversary, i.e. January 2018, the book was then launched on Amazon in a hard copy format. Both launches were definitely more than I expected. It has been such a blessing to hear from readers about how the book has inspired them to keep God as the focus and to see their blog as a ministry."
Why should someone purchase this book?
"I created the book to answer questions that people may have as a new Christian blogger. When I first started blogging, Christian perspectives about earning an income through blogging, self-promoting on social media, and how to brand as a Christian were so hard to find. So, if you are someone who is looking for encouragement, a resource of frequently asked-about topics such as social media, how to use Pinterest, how to monetise, or how to cultivate your blog into a ministry, then I believe this book would be a good fit for you."
Besides the book, you also sell other products like tees and jewellery on your site. How did those projects come about?
"Honestly... these projects came about by networking. This is why I highly encourage bloggers to network and build relationships. Doors of opportunity happen in friendships that want to help you build. Both ladies reached out to me as they knew that I ran a Facebook group specifically for Christian women bloggers, and offered to help provide some beautiful accessories for them and my readers. When they presented the ideas to me, I fell in love and said, “Let's do it!”"
Who are some of the Christian bloggers that inspire you and why?
"There are way too many to count because in my eyes, if you are wholeheartedly giving yourself and your blog to build the Kingdom, then you inspire me. But here are five that I would like to celebrate:
Natalie Venegas from Milk and Honey Faith has been my blogging bestie for almost two years now. She is my peacemaker in my storms of discouragement and a friend that always speaks to me with scripture and a sound mind. Her constant cheering me on is priceless.
Deb Wolf from Counting My Blessings has been a true inspiration to me for the past year. She took me under her wing and into a small mastermind group that is truly God-given. Her leadership and constant attention to the members has helped me to grow in Him first, and grow as a blogger second.
Melanie Redd from MelanieRedd.com is my constant prayer partner. This girl will message me at 5am just to tell me that she was thinking of me and to send me a prayer and scripture to soak up. Her obedience to God and anointing as an encourager is truly a blessing in my life.
I would also say my love for Lori Schumaker and Valerie Murray is beyond borders. These girls make me laugh, cry, and inspire me through their writings on their blog, but also are friends who always push me to do more for God."
What has God placed on your heart for 2018?
"God gave me the word "victory" this year. Immediately, I began to think BIG. I was ready to win a big victory, but thankfully the Lord spoke to me gracefully and brought me back to humility. He said, "You will experience victory over the small things." I soon received the revelation that by receiving victory over the small things, I will see how big God is working in my life."
Visit Carmen's blog, follow her on Instagram, and check out her book "By His Grace We Blog" (my personal review will be out shortly!).