Yesterday’s SLAM BOOK is Today’s SOCIAL MEDIA

Do you remember…did you have these or did you do this in Jr. High school? They were called Slam Books – books that (mostly girls) put together in binders, which had the names of girls in the class at the top of the page (each page with a different name) and then questions about what you thought of this person. Some questions were fairly tame, but some would be such that they would try to get others to write unkind and nasty things about that person. I’m finding that yesterday’s Slambook is today’s Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more – a place we can hide behind our comments and think no one will know we said it.

Recently I have felt ashamed. Ashamed at what I’ve read by people who call themselves Christians. I’ve felt that many of their comments have bordered on or been bullying comments, words that hurt feelings, and all done in the plain view of many non-Christians they would likely claim to want to share the with. I even had some non-Christian friends and family mention how shocked they were at such mean spirited and nasty comments.

But in this modern age of social media, we need to think twice (and some people need to consider it more than twice!) before posting, commenting, liking, disliking (someday if they add it) to our walls and pages, tweets, and instagrams….so that we are not purposely or even unknowingly hurting others, tearing them down, or saying things that are untrue, mean, nasty or would cause others to be further critical. Those of us calling ourselves Christians, need to compose our thoughts, weigh our words carefully, and ASK You for Your guidance as to whether or not our words will be of encouragement or if they are hurtful, and then to choose carefully what we actually write.

We know we have choices and it’s just as easy to be nasty as it is to be nice. It takes no more effort to say the kind words rather than the harsh or nasty ones. We can ask the Lord to help us recognize when our words would be hurtful and then ask for help to make a choice toward wisdom to either not use them or wait for an opportunity to craft them better so it comes from a heart of caring and compassion not just blurting them out or using those words to get even. We need to recognize our nasty tendencies and choose better, as others in social media (including unbelievers) are watching us and wondering if they even want to get to know our Jesus based upon what they are seeing and hearing from us. This is heartbreaking.

We should not think we hide behind paper and pen or computer, as our names accompany our comments. We need to be cautious and encouraging in our words to and for others. I pray we would put ourselves in the shoes of others and try to feel how they might feel if these things were said to or about us. May our words not come back to hurt us, as we are reminded in Psalm 140:9, “As for the head of those who surround me, may the mischief of their lips cover them.”

Like a carpenter is told to measure twice and cut once, we should measure our words twice and speak them kindly once. That one kind comment will encourage another for quite some time, but not as long as a discouraging one will wound a heart for a very long time. Think before writing or speaking. Let’s make our word count for good!

 

HOW LOSER’S WIN

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Situations may differ, but the principles are the same. Pro’s, kids sports, or life….losers can be winners! We all want to win, be super hero’s and be the best……

She was 15 and trying out for cheer-leading. As the advisor I watched gals learn routines and skills, but this gal was clearly the most uncoordinated gal I ever saw try out, but her persistence to learn was amazing. I didn’t want to discourage her excitement at learning new things and I loved her genuine encouragement to others!

Because I knew how badly she wanted to make it, she was the one exception I ever made to call personally to tell her how much I appreciated all her efforts, but that she didn’t make it.

She was so very gracious as she said through her tears, “Well, I’m so happy for all the girls who made it! What will you all be doing tonight? Can I bring everyone some pizza?”

That night, as the new cheer- leading team was celebrating, and without them knowing what was to happen, I waved “the loser” to “come on in.” She congratulated each “winner” genuinely and kindly. After she left, there were about 15 of us in a puddle of tears talking about what a gracious loser she was, and that of all of us, she was the real winner.

Losing is hard. It was hard to:

  • Watch the Cav’s lose the finals after such a wonderful year (yet owning up to the loss on a number of levels!) #allin
  • Tell my son his team lost….he thought they were (and they were) pretty INCREDIBLE!
  • Tell my high school student she didn’t make the cheerleading team (yet watching her shine in the end!)
  • See one of my daughters not make the volleyball team back in middle school (yet offering to be the scorekeeper just to be involved…)
  • Go through a gazillion (I’m not exaggerating) college, play, commercial, theater, comedy, etc. auditions with my other daughter and watch her not make a lot of them (yet watching her commend and rejoice with others when they did!)

Winning often means losing.

Thanks to those who’ve been such good examples.

You’re the winners!

 

WHICH WAY AM I HEADED?

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Maybe it’s just me, but I’m watching people making all kinds of weird and wrong choices. I’m not saying this to get my way about something I’m simply observing some really silly and foolish things!

I know (in at least a few of these instances) these people are being directed and helped by others who are giving good counsel – but they just don’t want to hear or apply it. Yikes.  Proverbs 26:11 seems to apply here, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” I can’t think of a better word picture than that one!

None of us will “get” everything right in this life, but when we consistently make poor choices we need to stop and take inventory and ask ourselves, “So, which way am I headed if I make this choice?” The funny thing is this….in a few instances when I’ve turned the discussion table around and asked them how they would help me (or their children) decide (a similar situation like they are dealing with) they give the right answer! But when it comes to their situation, it just doesn’t apply the same way. They just want what they want. That is frightening.

Maybe this little thought today will jump start us to ask ourselves, “Which way am I headed?” in a way that will give a well considered answer that looks to the past for past mistakes as well as good choices, is honest in the present to honestly evaluate, and thinks ahead to what will happen in the future because of that decision.

De-Friend, Block, Bully

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Let’s face it, SOCIAL MEDIA is big!  What started as a way for college kids to look each other up and communicate has turned into a worldwide presence!

I enjoy:

  • Informational blogs and articles
  • Hearing from real friends and the ones who just “hang out” occasionally
  • Playing SCRABBLE
  • That I’m moved to pray when a need is shared
  • Finding people from high school and college
  • Keeping in touch with present friends
  • Meeting new people with like interests
  • Seeing what others pin on their boards
  • Seeing job hunts – rejoicing when they’re found, tweets…
  • Seeing the most recent pictures of trips, daily routines, and grandchildren on various social media

It has a value that is hard to calculate, yet there are other values missing.

One can’t calculate the missing value of:

  • A shared cup of coffee or tea
  • A casual dinner to “catch up”
  • Face to face communication
  • A hug, a tear, or a good laugh

The virtual world will never be able to simulate what happens in the real world of caring and compassion.

God has given us relationships for a reason and we should be mindful to care for them.

But, sadly, social media is also big in the social status department of “de-friend, block, and bully.”

Recently someone shared with me their hurt feelings because someone de-friended and blocked them. They were trying to figure out why. I didn’t have an answer except to share that both virtual and real friendships hold some things in common. One commonality is that people don’t always know how to be kind and communicate well – face to face or on the written page. When they are jealous of something we did, or somewhere we went, when we seem to have more friends or “likes” than they do, when they don’t agree with us….they find it easier to de-friend and block a friend than to either let it go because it’s not really a big issue, or speak with us about an issue if it is a big deal. A true friend would reach out. A virtual friend hides.

For me, on those occasions I’ve searched to connect with a friend and notice our status now shows we’re no longer friends, I don’t have to assume. I know they de-friended me. I know that, because I don’t de-friend friends unless they post nasty things or are nasty on my page in their comments. I’ve probably de-friended 3 people and I didn’t actually know them (perhaps met them at a conference or other social situation). Of the times I’ve noticed someone de-friend me, they were usually the kind of people I don’t considered a good friend anyway. (And no worries…they won’t even see/read this!) I was actually glad one particular gal parted our ways….again. I say again, because in the real world of friendship her passive aggressive nature was bullying. No problem here – and yes, we discussed it and tried to work through it in the past. Another gal told me she didn’t like that I encouraged others (including her) on social media and said she was going to de-friend me. Who wouldn’t be relieved?  I (and neither should you) spend too much time worrying about such trivial silliness, pettiness, and mean-spirited-ness. I’d like to think we both have enough real “friend” relationships on which to work in kind, encouraging, and helpful ways.

I’d like to suggest we enjoy our real and our virtual relationships in ways that don’t cause hurt and bullying. Why not nurture and encourage others even on the written page of social media?

Let’s live out Romans 12: 9-16:

  • Love one another without hypocrisy
  • Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good
  • Desire to be devoted to one another, giving preference to others with honor
  • Contribute to the needs that others have, serving friends and even strangers through hospitality, kindness, compassion, and words of encouragement
  • Be of the same mind with one another
  • Not being haughty, but associating with various kinds of people
  • Desire to rejoice with those who are rejoicing
  • Take a step to weep with those who are weeping through grief, encountering a deep trial of life, or simple walking through the challenges of trials of everyday life

And if we can’t do that….maybe it’s time to sign off.

Signing out, but not off!

 

Anonymous or Hiding?

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Most of the time, I recognize that remaining anonymous is not the right thing to do. Feelings can be hurt when we write things to others and we don’t own up to our part in whatever the situation. I’ve even known of people to have lost their job when anonymity was revealed. Of course, that wasn’t their plan. That lesson (which I learned early in life) has stuck with me for many years and has kept me from ever writing something without signing my name. The only times I’ve chosen to write anonymously, have been times I do something charitable and would prefer not to be “known”. By remaining anonymous in this type of situation we’re able to serve and know that Jesus alone gets the credit. Secrets aren’t good to keep unless we keep the secret for God to get the glory and the credit.

It’s often tempting to want to be in the limelight or get the credit for doing a good deed for someone. God alone will choose to use each person to bless others especially when we consider others more important than ourselves.  May what we give, how we act and respond, and how we treat others be a reflection of our love and service to God.

It’s important not to let our blind spots get the best of us in wanting to sneak a peek at how good or kind we think we are, when we really know that without God we are nothing but a puff of wind. Serving in secret is what benefits His name. When we use the gifts, talents, skills, and resources that God has given each of us without needing the attention, accolades, and credit, is the way we will in turn be able to bless others….and we ourselves will also be blessed. It’s a humble action to remain quiet in serving so that we don’t allow ourselves to get in the way of what God might accomplish.

The next time we choose to do something in secret, let’s evaluate and think if we’re serving or tempted to hide behind an anonymous note.

From Thorns to Throne

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A dear friend, whom Joe discipled, made for us the crown of thorns you see in this picture. I tenderly take it out from storage each Easter. Tenderly, because it is very sharp and very difficult to handle without getting scratched or poked.

Our friend had to use great caution as he weaved this crown because the slightest mis-movement would have been painful.

The crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus didn’t even have to be forced on him for it to be painful.  When I consider the harshness of a crown of thorns it is hard for me to imagine the pain Jesus endured when it was put upon his head as they mockingly said, “And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'”

He was mistreated and suffered death for our sins. He endured the pain of the crown of thorns, floggings, and death on a cross. It’s hard to comprehend that He did that to fulfill the Old Testament scripture. It’s hard to comprehend how we continue to sin; thus mocking what He endured for us.

Yet, because of His death, He now triumphs in heaven. Isaiah 66:1, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.'” He reigns. He was victorious.

May you enjoy this Easter week as we prepare to celebrate that HE IS RISEN!

 

 

Giving Flowers – A Good Practice or Not Practical?  (Read in <2.5 minutes)

10421231_898232170198652_3857147976533219012_n (1)These flowers were given to my daughter by her boyfriend. Did she love the gesture or tell him never to do that again because it’s not practical and a waste of money? She responded like most women do! She loved it!

Years ago my mom repeatedly said to my dad and us kids, “I’d rather people give me flowers while I’m alive so I know I’m loved and appreciated…not just something sent to a funeral home after my death.” It didn’t matter if it was a dandelion, a fresh bouquet, or an arrangement. She loved flowers and the thought behind it.

Dad, not necessarily a romantic, went to a nearby florist and said to the owner, “Every week I want to send my wife flowers. You choose the arrangement or bouquet and bill me – every week.” This went on for years. Over 25 years if my memory serves me correctly. Mom loved every expression of love through those flowers.

Somewhere along the way, my husband Joe started doing that. I’m not sure of the exact time, but each week, when he does our grocery shopping, he brings me flowers. I never take them for granted. I don’t tell him to stop bringing them because it’s a waste of money. I love the thought, and though we’re not particularly “romantics” I do think it’s very romantic!

Practically speaking, it’s a waste of money to buy flowers that will wither and die and be thrown away; but the practiced gesture is never wasted and lives on in our thoughts and memories. Practically speaking, sometime a single flower is just as special as a huge bouquet. As I consider different scenarios of people I know receiving flowers, I can’t think of one who didn’t appreciate it and love the gesture.

Joe shares, when we speak on the topic of marriage, of a local florist who said that many of his best customers are men who buy flowers every week for years-then vanish forever. The problem: they get married.

Many of the things we practice along life’s way may or may not be practical. It’s just a good reminder, that while we can go through life being practical about money, gifts, time, etc. it’s never a waste of money when we practice things that are enjoyed and appreciated.

Getting my vase ready…….right next to the one my daughter will have ready!

 

HOW TO SEEK AND KNOW WISE COUNSEL (Read in < 2 minutes)

People tend to give us their advice and a piece of their mind even if we don’t ask for it. Whether we ask for advice or counsel or it’s simply given to us without a request, we might do well to follow some guidelines to seek and know if what we’re hearing is wise counsel or not. I’ll share with you some of my guidelines to help you think about what you’d like yours to be:

BIBLICAL FOUNDATION

I’m a Christian, so while many people – Christian or not – have good thoughts and insights, I’d like to be sure there is a biblical foundation to what I’m hearing and that I’m following God’s word. A financial advisor might not be a believer, and be an excellent advisor. In a case like this, I need to have the biblical foundation to discern if they’re advice is good to follow. I want to follow honest (and biblical) principles.

IN GOD’S WORD DAILY

I’d like to know that the person giving me advice is in God’s word daily. This person will (if in the word consistently) and should know truth from lies, being able to recognizing the right next steps and hopefully desiring to lead me in that way. I want someone who won’t compromise God word and who is unafraid to stand firm. I don’t want “off the cuff” advice for it will likely fall on deaf ears. I can heed it but I might not take it! I’d like this someone to be making biblical, smart, savvy, and wise decisions for themselves. If they are living life without consulting God, willfully sinning and saying what they’re doing is Okay, well, that is not one from whom I’ll take advice – ever.

PRAYING FOR ME

It would mean a lot to me if they were praying daily in general and praying for me regarding this counsel. By them taking the time to do that before giving an answer would be very meaningful to know. I would know that they cared and were invested in the process.

WALKING ME THROUGH

It’s important to me that someone who will invest into my life through what they think is important would also make the effort to walk with me through the more troubling or challenging things of life. The person willing to step into my life (and possibly the mess that there is) makes me realize their sincerity and desire for my good.

I’m sure this entire list isn’t full proof. I’m sure I’ve given advice that I wished I could take back and I’m sure I’ve received advise I should (or shouldn’t) have acted upon. These simply help outline for me the most important things I look for as I hear from others.

WHAT WOULD YOUR LIST LOOK LIKE AS YOU RECEIVE COUNSEL?

Black/White/Indian: COULD WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

I don’t often mention people by the color of their skin or ethnicity, but because I didn’t know (two of) these people to call them by name, and because of what I’m about to share, I will be doing both.

Just yesterday this white girl (me) was in line at a local discount store. At the checkout in front of me was an Indian man. Behind me was a black man who had one item in his hand (I had a cart full.)

I looked at him and asked, “Would you like to go ahead of me?” He was, of course, delighted.

He patiently waited while the Indian man finished paying his bill….and who was .10 short.
The black gentleman gave the Indian man a dime. Both men graciously accepted the gesture and thanked and appreciated one another.

He was quickly done checking out and looked back at me as he was leaving and said, “Thank you.” We exchanged smiles and good bye pleasantries.

I stood there thinking, “Wow, if we all just treated each other like this more often and let the news report it!”

I know issues of prejudice and biases go much deeper than what I’m describing here, but this is where change can start to be kindled. It starts with treating others (everyone!) with kindness, generosity, civility, and love. In just a 2 minute time frame I watched and enjoyed a very nice transaction with 3 very different people.

We just need to take notice….not so much of skin color or ethnicity but of opportunities to show kindness and appreciation…everywhere and to everyone.

 

THE SPIN ON SIN – (WOW! Write on Wednesday is back! Read in <3.5 min.)

10405259_873484722673397_8460082224567518866_nWe’re so good at putting a spin on sin, that we almost don’t think we sin or that there is even such a thing anymore!

The word sin is seldom used. We might hear someone say, “I made a mistake,” or “I wasn’t thinking when I did that,” or      the all too famous, “It wasn’t MY fault.” We say everything we can think of besides the word “sin.” We justify, lie, blame  others, etc. but the truth is: that is all just a spin. When we sin there is only one person to blame and that is ourself.

Sin (according to Webster) is defined as “an offense especially against God; a weakened state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” Perhaps the reason we don’t use the word “sin” much anymore is because we have conveniently, even as believers in Jesus, talked ourselves right into thinking we’re not wrong, we’ve not wronged anyone, and why would Jesus really even care.

The problem is this: He does care, and He knows when we sin. Furthermore, so does everyone else. It’s like the big hole I had in my kitchen ceiling that needed to be fixed. For years I left it. I didn’t want to deal with the mess of dry wall, sanding, and repainting. I didn’t even have to fix it; I just had to clean the mess. So after a while, I didn’t even notice the hole. Everyone who walked in however, did notice it. Yep – big hole…asking themselves, “I wonder why nobody bothers to fix that. It’s a mess.” The reason? It was just plain easier to leave it alone than to deal with what it would take to clean up the mess and fix it. It’s not bothering anyone and who really notices?

Sin is just like that. When someone walks into a room with their adulteress – everyone sees it. They see the sin. They also recognize that they don’t want to do the work to fix the marriage they’re still in because, you guessed it, it’s just too much work to clean up the mess. There are other sins. Fill in the blank and put your own sin spin to the test.

Gossip? We don’t want to stop talking badly about someone because it’s easier just to keep the lies going and it feels good. It feels good to be better than the person we’re gossiping about. It feels good to be “one up” in knowing something no one else knows. (Sadly it’s usually a lie…)

Lying? We don’t want to stop because we sound good. We sound “big.” We like knowing (or thinking we do) information no one else does, and who cares if we’ve stretched the truth a bit? It’s okay if we steal a person’s reputation or character. What does it matter to us? It’s not my reputation!

Stealing? People’s reputations, items from work; clothing from stores….it’s not hurting me personally, right? Someone else can pay for it. Other people can afford it.

Well, some day, the spin on sin will affect you. Suddenly it won’t be you who’s doing the sin and hurting others, soon you will be the one betrayed by an affair or a friendship, or it will be your business from which someone steals and it’s not only going to hurt and devastate you, it will have a ripple effect on others. Suddenly there is a sting to sin because it touched you.

Let’s start to call it what it is. Let’s hold others accountable by helping them stop their sin instead of pampering and coddling them through it. Help them grow up and take responsibility rather than demanding what they think are their rights. We all totally understand forgiveness and God’s redemption but let’s not forget that He can and will provide consequences – and not always in the same way in which sin was committed. The consequence will be manifested somewhere. We can mock sin (“Fools mock at sin,” Prov. 13:9) and think we’ll never get caught, that God doesn’t care, or that others don’t notice or aren’t affected by it. But He does notice and “God will not be mocked” (“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7)

Whatever you need to do to fix the mess, get started. Make apologies and stop sinning. Turn around and away from the sin. Flee from it. They’ll be a mess to clean up but it can be done.

And when that gaping hole in your heart, like my ceiling, gets fixed…things will look a lot better, and it will be noticeable and oh, so very worth it.