How My Online Ministry Began

…From the beginning.

It all began with a smiley…

One day in the early days of the internet, I was at the computer and an email came in from my cousin. In that email she had put an animated smiley. I was stunned, not having ever seen anything animated in an email before. So I emailed her back, asking how she did that. She said that she didn’t know how it is done, her tech guy had just quickly showed her how to do it. So …I began looking on the internet for animated graphics.

Being as it was, those many years ago, the graphics I was able to find were very simple, but I saved every one I could find and decided to find out how it was done. Google didn’t yet exist, so I really wasn’t able to do much, but I learned enough to be able to put a simple smiley into an email.

Later, I saw a graphic on a woman’s site, it was a beautiful flower with a person’s name on it. She said that she would make one for anyone who wanted one. So I sent in my name, and lo and behold she sent me back that same flower with my name on it. Really intrigued now, I asked her how she created the image. She said she uses Paintshop Pro. So …what on earth is Paintshop Pro, I wondered. I found the Jasc site where it was available and saw that the program was on sale for $90. Did I want to spend $90 for something I would have no clue what to do with? $90 was a bit of a stretch back in those days. I didn’t think so, so I let it go. But the thought of it wouldn’t go away. I was telling my daughter about it and I showed her the graphic with my name on it. “Do you think it’s worth it to spend that kind of money for something I won’t know how to use, just in case I might be able to figure it out?” My daughter offered to go halves with me, so together we ordered the program.

Well. I received the program and opened it, and I just sat there wondering what on earth it was all about. I tried investigating the tools, but there was no way I had any clue what to do with them. So I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book called, “Paintshop Pro for Dummies.” I brought the book home and I couldn’t even read the first page. Terms I had never heard before, nothing that was even remotely familiar to me. I thought of just giving it up as being impossible. But then, at Barnes and Noble I saw the book, “Paintshop Pro for Absolute Idiots.” Are you old enough to remember the “Dummies” and “Idiots” books?

But it was the same with this book. I couldn’t read the first page. And I figured this was a great idea but it was useless to me, and I put it all away.

Months later I still had the program on my mind. Being a prayerful person, I asked God what to do. He answered me. He said to go to the computer and type, “Paintshop Pro for beginners.” Really??? Ok, let’s give it a try. And up came multitudes of Paintshop Pro tutorials. At that time I didn’t even know what a tutorial was, and I know I’m dating myself, but that’s the truth. Anyway, I opened up one of the tutorials …and the rest is history. There were tutorials that took you through the basics and being videos, you could actually see what the person was doing, all I had to do was to try to do what he was doing. It took a long time, but finally I got it and I’ve been using it ever since, as recently as this morning!

Well I had fun with that for quite awhile, but what was I to do with these graphics I was making? So …one day I was on the computer and I received an email from a friend telling me to take a look at someone’s blog. Blog? What on earth is a blog? Yep, we were still back in ancient days. It was all new to me. Anyway, I clicked on the link and it took me to the person’s blog. It was an article, with pictures. I was intrigued. After staring at it for awhile, I noticed up in the top right-side corner, an orange button that said, “Create Your Own Blog.” Holding my breath, I clicked on the button. And voila, all I had to do was create an account and I could start creating a blog something like the person’s that I had seen. I created the account. And again …the rest is history.

I soon found out that it’s not as simple as that, though. It is, if you want to just let the site guide you into what you can do, and I did that for awhile, but the time came when I didn’t want to be hampered by the limitations of the “template” the site offered. So …Somehow I came across a woman in Texas who told me that if you really want to make the site as you want it, there’s access to the HTML. Umm ….ok …what is HTML? By this time Google was available and I started at the very beginning and studied the basics of HTML. I only cared about changing colors, and very simple changes in the way the site appeared. And now we’re talking years of study. There is so much to HTML that if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have taken a look at it, but after awhile I was able to do some basic (very basic) editing.

Since then, I’ve created dozens of blogs. Some on Blogger which was that first one, and then years later I tried my hand at, and then later again …at Wix. Each of the blog-hosting sites comes with a steep learning curve and it took me a lonnnnng time to be able to create blogs or websites on each platform. I’ve ended up, currently, with three websites, one at each of those platforms. I keep them separate because they’re each centered around it’s own topic.

One day years later, in my prayer time in the morning, I told the Lord I wondered whether these blogs and sites were worth the effort I’ve put into them. Maybe he meant these just as a hobby for me? I had no followers and no feedback, they were just sitting there. As I explained to the Lord that it just didn’t seem worth it and that I was thinking of going on to do something else with my time, he spoke to me. He said, “go to Facebook.” And I replied, “whaaaaaat?” I had looked at Facebook one time awhile back when my daughter was into it, and after looking around Facebook and seeing what people were doing with it, I had quickly dropped it. I wasn’t interested in what people were having for dinner, or in their pictures of dogs and cats, and I had just left it. So now Almighty God is telling me to go to Facebook????

Well, so I went back onto Facebook, thankfully I had kept a record of my password, and I got back in. Now, for anyone who isn’t familiar with something new, it can be confusing at first. But I studied it and then tried, just for the heck of it, I tried posting something. And there it was. But …so what? Well …you have to have followers if you want people to see it. Well …so how to you get followers? Again, Google helped me with that and I began amassing followers …and the rest is history. Today, each day I post a devotional I’ve written, an article I’ve written, and a video I’ve found that I think others might be interested in. And the ministry is born.

It was God who started me, and the Lord who guided me step by step, and I can’t begin to overstate the many times when I’ve gotten stuck and could not find an answer to some problem I was having. I had no one to ask questions to when I got stuck, I don’t personally know anyone else who’s doing the same thing as I am. At times when I’ve had what I thought was an insurmountable problem with one of the sites, and I can’t exaggerate how many times that has happened, I come to the absolute end of what I can do, or fix, or create, and after Googling for the answer, many times I’ve just given up. I mean SO many times! And at that point, the Lord steps in and brings me to the answer, and it’s usually somewhere I never would have looked. I can’t count the times I’ve closed the computer in awe and just looked up and said, “Lord, you are the ONLY one who could have brought me to this answer.” Consequently, my sites are all about HIM in one way or another. My entire purpose in life is to write devotionals and articles drawing people to HIM. Only in heaven will I ever know whose lives these writings have touched.

Well there you have it. From being stunned by an animated smiley in an email, to having three websites each showing HIM in different ways, but all with the intent that through this ministry that HE brought me to, I have the hope that someone’s life may be changed. Forever.

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

-From “Take My Life, And Let It Be”
by Frances R. Havergal

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