(Friends, did you catch my interview with fashionista, Naomi? I appreciated her advice on bloggers focusing on quality content versus number of followers. It’s not easy advice, but it’s crucial to keep it in mind when building a blog. I am excited to share my interview with Jamia. I discovered Jamia on Twitter, and I have been following her daily Periscopes on gratitude since the beginning of the year. Whether I am watching a live broadcast or a replay, I am uplifted by the community that has been formed. We are all intentionally working on being more grateful. Jamia even refers to us as #MyGratitudeTribe. Please read why she talks about gratitude so much. Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)
Monica aka afrotasticlady: I love that your blog is about gratitude. What made you choose to blog about this topic?
Jamia: Thank you so much for this opportunity! I would say this topic chose me. I spent years of my life unhappy and discontent with my circumstances. Over time God began to shape a new perspective in my heart regarding the ups and downs of life and that started with a challenge to be grateful. I saw someone doing a “100 days of Gratitude Challenge” on Twitter in 2011. It looked like a good idea, so I tried it too. First on Twitter, then again in 2012 on Facebook… the second time I participated in the challenge my disposition really started to change for the better. Challenging myself to find one thing I was thankful for each day forced me to train my heart and eyes to recognize the many things, people, places, opportunities and experiences I had to be grateful for. I realized that the call to rejoice in Scripture (Philippians 4) was also the call to be grateful…it was a call to recognize God as the giver of every good and perfect thing (James 1:17) and to acknowledge the abundant grace He provides. Some time after the challenge ended, I dropped the discipline and sunk into a season of despair again due to a variety of events. As I tried to understand the reasons for this attitude shift, I realized that gratitude had to become a daily habit in order to keep my heart from being gripped by envy and discontentment. So for me the pursuit of contentment has gradually taken shape over the years. Contentment must be learned, it’s not something we can just “be” automatically and though there is no formula, I do believe it begins with the discipline of thanksgiving. I hope to be able to encourage my readers to trust God and continue on the path of contentment even in the midst of life’s disappointments.
M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?
J: I would say both! I am a writer through and through. I can remember writing my first poem when I was 7 years old. Writing has always come natural to me and it is typically the primary way I express myself. Truly, writing is one of things that makes my heart happy. Without a doubt, the one designation that supersedes every other marker someone could choose to identify me with is that of a believer in Jesus Christ. My faith can’t help but permeate everything that I do, so given the opportunity to write about the things on my heart, naturally topics relating to the practical application of my faith are typically the central message I attempt to communicate.
M: You blog posts are very encouraging. What do you love most about blogging?
J: Oh, wow! Thank you so much for the compliment. Maya Angelou once said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I love to be able to express what God has given me to share. Blogging is one avenue that provides the opportunity to tell whatever the current story is on my heart. It also has allowed me to connect with some great people, there’s some awesome content out there!
M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?
J: Bad news assaults us daily from multiple outlets. We typically don’t have to go too far to find it. It is clear that our world is in desperate need of hope. That hope can only be found in Christ. The blogosphere needs believers that are willing to share and speak of the redemptive, life altering and liberating work of Christ in, through and for our lives. As those that know Him, we can personally testify to His goodness. As we share, I believe that our testimonies have the power to point others to Christ and effect great change in the lives of those who read our work.
M: You have a public platform on Periscope and Twitter. How do you think bloggers should use social media to their advantage?
J: Social media is a great asset, if we learn to use it well. As we steward the messages God has given us to share, it is important to be strategic with our use of the platforms available to us. There are many to choose from and all have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s important for bloggers to know their audience and also to know themselves and let that knowledge guide them towards the best outlets for their personalities. Every social media site is not for me! Social media can also be very overwhelming if we take on too much. I was advised by seasoned writers to choose one or two to focus on before trying to become proficient in more than I could manage well.
M: What advice or encouragement do you have for Christians who are new to blogging?
J: Three things:
1.) Don’t give up!
2.) Don’t try to do this alone!
3.) Be willing to share your writing.
This is my 3rd attempt at blogging, but also the most productive thus far. Where I’ve found success this time is in seeking out community. I’ve begun to connect with other writers and they have encouraged me to press on, in spite of the difficulty. Earlier this year I enrolled in Compel Training (a monthly membership community for writers) and their support gave me the tools and the push I needed to renew my blogging efforts. Writing is a gift and not everyone has the ability to string together words in a way that touches the hearts of others. This gift of ours is meant to be shared! We never know who will be blessed by our story, let’s be faithful to tell it.
Jamia is an actress, writer, teacher and speaker, but most of all a woman that loves God. Her aim is to point the way to Christ using whatever platform she can. Join Jamia & #MyGratitudeTribe daily on Periscope as they honestly discuss the ups, downs and in-betweens of life on the pathway towards contentment.