GOOD ONE local columnist Jan Woodard

Jan Woodard shares thoughts on faith, life and recovery. Contact her at textingthrucancer@gmail.com

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” — The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Icy birch branches lash the siding and roof of our house this wintry morning. For hours it’s sounded like showers of corn. Sassafras sway wildly under the glassy weight of a February storm beyond my window — a good day to hunker down and work on my blog.

I should have known — beginning a blog isn’t a walk in Blue Spruce Park. If all goes as planned (with technology, that’s a big “if”), I’ll launch my own website today.

Having a website enables me to blog, one more place I get to share hope. I love that! Yes, I know there are over 575 million blogs;, and no, I’m not holding my breath and counting how many people stumble down my rabbit hole into the virtual world — but all good things begin small.

I expected techie challenges, attempting this. My brain isn’t wired for it — I’m more a typewriter kind of girl, yet soon — even today! — you should be able to find me at janwoodard.com. My first blog, rooted in this Indiana Gazette column, is “The Real Questions,” questions that put brakes on my desire to go public.

When you visit, please consider leaving your name and email, so I know who you are! The tabs may even work, if kinks have been resolved — one of them, Prayer Cafe, will soon be a place to join our prayers together.

Someone, younger than I, labeled my generation digital immigrants and younger folks digital natives.

What appears logical to a 20-something web guru is a jumble of questions in my fuzzy head, still foggy at times from chemo.

Which is why I’m grateful for the expertise of our talented Kenyan granddaughter, Fiona. Now an IUP graduate student, she not only knows her way through the maze, she brightens my days as she accompanies me along the path.

The surprising thing about beginning a blog is the gut-level questions it stirs:

Am I making a difference for anyone?

Will you be encouraged by this?

Is God leading me in this venture?

The Bible says rend my heart and not my garments, but nobody warned me blogging would rip into my deepest intentions as a woman of faith. God cares more about my honesty and heart condition than anything else. If our hearts are ruthlessly honest and right with Him it’s likely we’re on the right path.

Here’s another key question, as a blogger believer: “Did I linger in God’s presence, today?”

Trust me, my faith ride hasn’t been all smooth sailing. (Or in my case, kayaking.) We have our ups and downs, God and I. Car-crashing, muscle-aching, heart-grieving moments of questioning.

And breast cancer. There’s that.

A mental alarm rang when my cell screen reported I averaged two hours and 18 minutes of cell use last week. Good grief, while my hubby Jim averaged 18 minutes a day! Guess I need to ask with this new venture, “What are my priorities?”

The place to begin is in the Word. Spending time there empowers me to do everything else, assured all will be well. Writing and most of my spiritual walk are solitary activities; listening for God’s voice quiets my heart to be open to messages from people, face-to-face or text-to-text contact.

When I’m not walking my dog and doing the usual, I relax over tea with friends through a cancer support group, prayer and church groups, with international students, and with folks who are passionate about writing, reading books, bird-watching and helping immigrants adjust to life in America.

I expect I’ll meet people in this virtual place. I shiver a bit, opening this window on my soul, yet swing the shutters wide, in awe of God calling us to a bigger vision as he binds hearts across space.

What are your passions? Others only know your hopes and hurts when you gather courage and open up to someone. Whatever we face and care about, we’re not alone. Friends stand with us. And God surrounds us. He’s a constant when all else changes.

It’s messages like this one from Sarah, a young mom and cancer survivor, that push me to reach out to new people: “You eloquently write the words that are in my heart. Your survivorship encourages all who read your heartfelt posts!”

Henri Nouwen said the real questions in life are: Did I offer anyone peace today?

Did I forgive anyone, release anger and resentment, speak healing words of love?

Whatever else I do, what matters most is simply: “Did I love well?”

In the end, that’s the big question.

And the only one that matters.

All will be well.