Well, my friends. This has been quite an amazing journey. I don’t know how to thank you all for being a part of it, for encouraging me to keep going simply by reading these entries.
I’d had it in mind to do something thoughtful and profound as my final entry, a “best of” at the very least (which I attempted at Fushilou, and this might be a fun walk down memory lane for you), but instead I want to leave you with a few of my final thoughts.
First of all: I stopped reading the analytics after the first month of blogging. While the rest of the world concerns itself with numbers, I decided that they just made me feel inadequate, and that’s not what this blog was about. I took it on faith that someone out there was reading it (and I know at least one person read it daily because I would receive a text if there wasn’t a Joyful post in the morning!), and I determined that if I could made a difference to even one other person, the entire project was worth it.
With that in mind, however, today I decided to look at the analytics, seeing as the blog is about to self-destruct, and I was really surprised. In a good way. And if you’re a blogger out there, or anyone who knows anything about website traffic, please do not dissuade me for being moved by the following figures because comparatively they’re small–but to me this is amazing.
In the past year, Joyful has received 10.8K page views.
The most popular month was April (not surprisingly, as that’s when I started the Global Scavenger Hunt).
And THIS was the coolest part: the visitors who arrived at my page came from 51 countries, including surprises like Costa Rica and Myanmar, Jordan and Hungary, Argentina and Ghana. Outside of the USA, the heaviest traffic came from (in descending order):
1. Greece (HOORAY! MY HEART IS HAPPY)
2. Canada (thanks, neighbors!)
3. Germany (thanks, German parea!)
4. The UK
5. India (thanks, Tanvi!)
9 and 10 (tied): New Zealand and Romania
While I didn’t have analytics to perform this job, I went looking through some of my tags (i.e., the hashtags I use to make entries searchable, such as #blessings) to see how often they came up in the coarse of a year. Here are some I found interesting:
Sanctuary Church RI: 48
Global Scavenger Hunt: 37
Providence Writers Guild: 21
Hot Chocolate: 13
Answered Prayer: 22
Chance Encounters: 11
Ice Cream: 12
Secondly: In the seven years I’ve been blogging on Fushilou, I’d never written much about faith matters. In my everyday “real” life, I was also pretty cautious about what I said because I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or bring unnecessary attention to myself, especially since “church” conversation lead to extreme criticism against me while I was an undergraduate student. And then, when I came to New England for graduate school, I learned that people simply don’t talk about God, and Christians were like an underground society, if they existed at all. It was therefore not my intention to get super spiritual with these blogs to keep them accessible and enjoyable for all.
As you’ve found out, if you’ve read any number of my entries, I abandoned that sense of caution the first week of January, realizing that if I were to be honest in my writings, I would have to be honest about my feelings and my beliefs. I appreciate all of you who kept reading despite holding different beliefs, and I hope that I was able to paint an accurate picture of what it’s like to live in the mind of a Jesus follower. It would have been impossible for me to maintain a blog about gratitude if I were unable to discuss the One to whom I was grateful. So thank you for sticking with me.
Lastly: I have to admit– 2017 was perhaps the best year of my life (so far). I’ve had other great years, and fragments of years, but as a whole, this was the best. It felt like a turning point for me, one of those years I’m going to look back on and say, “Yup, 2017. That was the year everything changed.” I can’t say it was exclusively due to Joyful, although I believe taking time to recall and give thanks for the most beautiful moments of my day did a number on my soul. But here’s the interesting thing about gratitude: when you realize how much you have, it makes you want to be generous with others. Generous with money, with time, with kindness, with prayer. Gratitude helps you focus outward instead of inward, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to bless others this year.
There is a reason that before Jesus feeds the multitudes– 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish– he first give thanks to God. Giving thanks never fails to multiply the blessing.
May you all be blessed in 2018. I hope you find joy in the small things and the big things. Thank you for being part of my joy this year.