Where I’m going to school—and how you can help!

A few months ago I shared that I was thinking about going back to school. This wasn’t an easy thing to talk about—or even to think about and pray through! You know how people like to say, “If God’s in it, you’ll feel peace about the decision”?

Yeah, no. I’m pretty sure I’ve never experienced that. Ever.

But, I felt convicted that I needed to start going down this road. Honestly, there are way too many guys out there who are naturally pretty sharp and intuitive, but only rely on that, and wind up train wrecks as a result. And I’m not interested in being one of those.

Fast forward a few weeks to October and my last update(s) on this journey. By mid-October, I had completed the application process with a reputable seminary (this is important), and had been accepted as a student. And at the end of January, I will begin working on my Masters of Arts in Theological Studies at Covenant Theological Seminary.

To answer a couple of important questions:

  • Am I moving to Missouri? Nope. I’ll be learning via distance education.
  • Am I becoming a full-time student again? Nope; I’ll be continuing on with my current employer and working on my education on the side. It’ll take me a couple of extra years, but it’ll be worth it.

So, the journey is about to begin, and I’ve got a favor to ask:

Will you help me with paying for my tuition?

My family’s conviction is to avoid accumulating debt in going to school. The last time I was in school (a three-year diploma in graphic design), I paid for entirely with student loans. This time around, I can’t do that. For me, and for my wife, it would be wrong for us to do so.1 So, I need to raise about $28,000 to cover my tuition and incidentals.

And I would love it if you could help by giving five dollars to my campaign at YouCaring.com.

Five dollars might seem like a drop in the bucket. And maybe it is. I mean, it’s a comic book or a latté. But it’s often the seemingly little things make a huge difference. And if enough people gave this, my goal would be met in no time.

Would you partner with me and my family on this journey and give five dollars to help me pay for school?

Help me by taking part in my first ever reader’s survey

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Could you spare two minutes and lend me a hand?

I’ve been blogging for over five years, which is an eternity in Internet years. However, there is a lot I have to learn from others—especially from my readers. So today, I’d like to ask you a few questions so I can get to know you in order to serve you better. This survey shouldn’t take more than about two minutes, and is completely anonymous.

(If you do not see a form or are reading via email, refresh the page or click here.)

I will share the relevant findings in a future post, as well as discuss some of the changes that may come from your feedback. Thanks for your help!

Fill out my online form.
The easy to use Wufoo form builder helps you make forms easy, fast, and fun.

And because I want to give credit where credit is due: Prior to posting, I spent a fair bit of time researching reader’s surveys (both reviewing existing surveys and reading up on best practices) when putting this together. Among the most helpful resources were Survey Monkey and Wufoo’s sample surveys, Michael Hyatt and Tim Challies’ reader surveys, as well as material by Hyatt on the best questions to ask.


Photo credit: hfabulous via photopin cc

A brand-new site

One thing you can always count on is change—especially online. Realism’s given way to flat design (at least this week), mobile devices are taking over as many users’ preferred means of visiting the Interwebs… Aside from making some of these poor decisions, about the worst thing a site owner can do is stick with a design too long.

For two and a half years, this site was running with 8Bit’s Standard Theme, and it’s been the preferred template of choice for many who’ve been striving for simplicity online. So, when 8Bit closed up shop last summer, it motivated me to do something I knew I needed to do eventually: start looking at a new design.

After several months of looking around, trying out a few ideas quietly in the background, I launched the new blog design this weekend. Here are a few of the most significant changes:

1. A greater focus on content.

Over time, one of my frustrations with the previous look is content struggled to remain at the forefront. The header was too large (again, a sign of the times). The navigation was clunky. The sidebar was increasingly overwhelming.

With the new site, the navigation and the sidebar have been streamlined fairly significantly, and the header takes up a minimal amount of space (at least when you’re reading on a desktop or laptop). The new look gives the most important feature the site—the content—the space it needs. This, I trust you’ll agree, is a very good thing.

2. A truly responsive layout.

This is, by far, the most mobile friendly version of the site to-date, which is important considering roughly half of you are reading this on your tablet or phone. So, if you’re reading this on your mobile device right now, I hope you’re enjoying it!

3. A trustworthy vendor.

As much as I would have loved to do this, there was no way I’d have been able to afford to hire a developer to design this site from the ground up.1 While a developer may be out of reach, StudioPress is not.

StudioPress’ Genesis Framework offers (nearly) all the tools a site owner could want, their suite of child themes2 are beautiful and functional.

Now, that being said, here are a few things I’m continuing to look at changing or adding in the future:

1. Advertising.

Advertising, at this point, has become a legitimate need for me. Currently, I keep a couple of ads in the sidebar, as well as one in the RSS feed. In the future, I’ll be revisiting how advertising works, which may include sponsored content.

2. A better book review page and other custom tweaks.

While I couldn’t afford a fully customized design, as finances allow, I’m hoping to add a few custom elements that will be beneficial to readers. One thing that’s top of mind: improving the book review page’s presentation a little nicer (although this probably isn’t something I’ll need a developer for, but you never know).

So that’s all there is to it, for now at least. Your feedback on the new look is greatly encouraged, whether it’s a compliment, an idea to improve functionality, a feature you want to see added, or to let me know something’s broken. Looking forward to your thoughts!