Monday, August 30, 2010

Give Me Your Thoughts on Christians & Social Media

I've noticed a huge trend in Christian blogs lately.  I think a lot of us are feeling the same tug in our hearts about one very important thing...are our social media efforts (blogs, facebook & twitter updates) about us or are they about Jesus?  Seriously, check out your favorite blog from your favorite Christian blogger and 9 times out of 10 you will find a post in there somewhere on this subject.  I've seen some terrific posts about narcissism, self-promotion and whether or not social media is even appropriate for believers.  I even wrote one myself about this a couple of months ago.

It's confusing.  We desperately want the world to know about Jesus and social media is a wonderful way to do that.  But we also want the world to know about us, so we can tell them about Jesus and show His love to them.  But where is the line?  I think it depends on who is drawing that line.  I think it depends on the one who is being protected by the boundaries of that line.  And the motives of the heart, which of course, no one can know but God.

I also think, in my own case, I tend to worry too much about what other people think.  I may feel a freedom to post something but once it's out there I worry about if people will sense my heart on the matter or if they will think my thoughts are narcissistic and self-promoting.  According to the Bible, however, my actions should not and cannot be controlled by my fears of what others might think.  My actions should only be based on what God thinks about the situation and if I feel He is leading me, I should not waste a moment on worry about what others may or may not think.  On the other hand, I have some very important people in my life who hold me accountable - and if they sense narcissism or pride in my life and confront me I take that issue to the Lord and I listen intently!

Is this something you wrestle with?  I want to discuss this today.  I know down deep we all want to do the right thing. We want the glory to be for Him, and Him alone. Have you struggled with wanting to do what's right in this area of social media? What are your boundaries?  Do you have accountability?  Maybe you've found a great balance - can you share where you've found that with the rest of us? If you have a blog post on this subject, or if you know of a good one, please post a link below in the comments section to it, so we can read what you have been writing or reading about.

Obviously, this isn't a blog with all the answers to this important subject...but a place to discuss, together, how we can glorify God in our social media efforts without seemingly glorifying ourselves in the process.  Thanks for participating!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Second Chance

After my cycle class last night, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.  I was just going to run in and run out but ended up staying a little longer than I planned.  As I walked out the door, I looked to my left and there was a shopping cart, lined with newspaper, with a terrified, shaking, filthy little dog with a sign on the outside of the cart written in marker: "LOST DOG!  PLEASE TAKE!"

He looked like he was very old and I don't think he could hear, as he didn't budge when you snapped or talked to him.  He didn't have a collar, no identification.  He just laid there, shaking and scared - discarded and alone.  Oh my goodness, how could I walk away?  My head was spinning.  I knew we couldn't handle another pet - we could barely handle the one we have!  We financially tight right now, so I knew I couldn't afford to get the help he needed.  I knew I couldn't take him, but I also knew I couldn't leave him.

Someone found him wandering around the parking lot and felt sorry for him.  He was a tiny little thing
(that's him in the photo) and parking lots are not the best place for a tiny little deaf dog to wander around in, so they put him safely in the shopping cart with the sign on it.  As people would come out of the store, I would just look at them and say "What should we do?" People would crowd around, offer up some "Oh, how sad!" but they couldn't do anything about him either, so they would walk away (though I could tell it was hard for them!).  My heart was hurting so desperately as I watched him lie there, alone.  He was really scared.

Finally, a man walked out of the store and I could tell he was really upset about the dog.  He stuck around for a bit and then I saw him walk to his car and within a few minutes, he pulled up and said "I will take him!" He called his wife for permission (smart man!) and was coming back to help.  He was going to feed him, clean him up and take him to Pet Smart to get him scanned to see if he may have an implanted ID in him.  I was SO relieved as I handed him to the gentleman.  My shirt was filthy and my hands needed a good washing afterward, but I must say, it was the best I'd ever felt being dirty.

I cannot stop thinking about this poor little dog.  How many times in my life have I felt discarded, forgotten, lost, filthy and alone?  I was so grateful this man came and saved him! I know it gave me a beautiful picture in my heart of how much Jesus gave up for me.  He saw me, alone...discarded...forgotten...scared... and He got his hands dirty as He reached down to lift me up out of the mire, out of the pit of my own filth.  But He didn't care.  He knew it would cost Him, but He did it anyway because of His love for me.  He cleaned me up, fed me and gave me a new life.  I'm so grateful for His sacrifice for me!  And I'm so grateful this man took this little doggie home and gave him a second chance, too.  Gosh, if he hadn't, I'd probably still be standing outside of the grocery store with him!  Thank God for the love and compassion He showed not only this little dog through the kindness of a stranger, but also to me - through the sacrifice of His Son.

Note:  If you know who this little doggie is and who he belongs to, please contact the Tega Cay Police Department.  He was found at Lowe's Foods in Tega Cay last night around 6:15pm.  I know the gentleman who took him home has no intention of keeping him from his owner - he was only trying to give him a safe place to go until he was found.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Everyday Heroes

Today is a milestone for my 11-year old daughter.  She started middle school today.  Nervous, excited, anticipation...and I'm sure she felt some stuff, too. (smile)  I remember those days a little too well.  Don't you?  What a tough age this was for me!  Was I popular or a dork?  Was I dressed cool enough but without looking like I tried too hard?  Did I do my hair right, was I walking right, was I thin enough, did I fit in? sweet girl is at a tough age.

I've lived through it with my two oldest children, but I will be honest - it wasn't easy.  I remember when my daughter started middle school she had a ton of friends in youth group.  They would worship together at youth group every week, eat lunch together and go to church together on Sundays.  It was actually cool to be a Christian.  Within about 4 months of middle school beginning, I noticed that more and more kids were pulling away from youth group.  The pressure was on.  My daughter had to make some tough choices.  She made some mistakes, but I'm so happy she never turned her back on the Lord.  Oh, was that hard, though.

It's hard to be strong at an age where you are desperately trying to define yourself.  I remember I wanted to be my "own person" but I dressed like everyone else.  I wanted to be "individualistic" but my decisions were made by the crowd, usually much to my own dismay.  I wanted to express myself, but instead I expressed what the popular kids wanted me to.  I wanted to defend the people who were made fun of, but I was made fun of when I did, so I kept quiet.  I hated who I was.  I wanted to be who I wanted to be - but I didn't have the confidence to be myself.

I'm praying my daughter will not go the route I did.  I pray she will see the truth - that people actually respect a person who stands for something greater than us.  Others want to be more like that too, but they are afraid.  Afraid of what?  Not sure.  But I believe rejection, accountability and stereotypes are up at the top of the list.

When people know we are a Christian, they expect us to be different.  When we act just like everyone else, we send a very mixed message.  Our faith should be evident in our lives - but not imposed on others.  There's something extremely bold about a middle-school kid who stands for Christ!  I think they are some of our biggest heroes - everyday heroes, walking what they talk.  This takes guts in a world that often thinks Jesus Christ is a cuss-word.

Today, if you think about it, would you say a prayer for those kids who are starting school and who are trying to stand firm for their faith in Christ?  Would you lift them up - ask God to encourage them and to give them strength?  Our prayers are so important!  I pray my kids will be gutsy for God in their schools - and that they will shine His light - so the world will know their faith is real, and more importantly, so they will see Jesus in them.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  

1 Peter 3:13-17

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are They Listening?

Yesterday around 2:45 or so, there was a terrible accident on I-77 in Fort Mill.  A tanker truck apparently hit another car, rolled and exploded.  It was just horrendous.  The kids and I were at home getting ready to go to the school for "Meet the Teacher".  I saw a very dark, ominous cloud hovering over Fort Mill and thought at first that it was a storm cloud but it was so out of place.  I looked again and said "Oh, something is on fire!"  As we drove to the school, I noticed the dark cloud was hovering over the area where my husband works! 

The white building right in front of the black cloud is my husband's work.
I called him immediately and found out that the accident happened right outside of his work building and they had to evacuate the building and move their cars!  I was so relieved he was ok.  But then my thoughts turned toward the accident victims and their families.  I couldn't help but think about how lives were being changed forever at that moment.  People were suffering, people may have died (we found out later that the truck driver did, in fact, die in this accident) and in an instant, things would never be the same for these families.  My heart broke.

After we met the teacher, we had some errands to run and I found myself tied up in traffic after taking a wrong turn, as the interstate was completely shut down.  It took me over an hour to go from one side of Fort Mill to the other.  As we sat in traffic, the girls and I prayed for these people and realized that sitting in traffic, together, was a blessing compared to what the families of these victims were going through.

I admit, I was tempted to get a little irritable as we had an appointment to be somewhere, but my eleven year old daughter said "Mom, you know God has a reason for having us sit in this traffic.  I just know it."  I was so touched by her lack of irritation, her complete trust and her child-like faith that God had a plan. It immediately pulled me back into reality and helped me not to think about my own inconveniences while I knew others were suffering at that moment.  Perspective is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes I wonder if what I teach my children about God is sinking in.  Are they listening?  Do they get it?  And times like yesterday show me that, indeed, they are listening.  And they do get it.  And they can be used by God to remind me of the truths of His Word when I get tempted to forget and fret. 

I found out today that the two women in the car the tanker truck hit were rescued just before the tanker exploded by some strangers who immediately sprang into action once the accident happened.  They pulled the ladies out of the car and the ladies were both treated and released from the hospital.  Amazing.  Strangers on a road, risking it all to save the lives of these two women!  Sounds like someone else was listening to what Mom and Dad told them, too.

People are listening.  People do get it.  In a world where it seems nobody's listening to what is right at times, we are given sweet reminders of God's grace and mercy, even in some of the most disastrous situations. Hope springs eternal!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Worrier or Warrior?

I've got two kids who have moved out of the house at this point and it's been a very interesting transition to say the least.  Not having them here is difficult because I miss them so deeply but it's also very exciting at the same time.  I'm not necessarily excited for me, personally, but for them.  They are following their dreams and turning into adults.  The problem is, I'm just not sure how to be a parent to an adult.  This is tricky!

I try not to worry.  I really do.  I know to trust the Lord, that they are His children, that He never leaves them.  But I think down deep every mom has a twisted, messed-up idea that worrying about their children may somehow prove to be effective; that it means they are actively parenting and showing how much they still care.  But it doesn't help.  It isn't effective and it's totally against what the Bible says we are to do as parents.

Rod & Stephanie
When my daughter graduated, my husband turned into what I thought was a "Nazi-parent".  He was adamant that she move out, stretch her wings.  My daughter was terrified and cried buckets of tears.  She tried to go to a college close to home but my husband stood his ground that she needed to move away.  I was a mess.  I knew the Bible was clear to submit to the husband's decision, but I really thought he was being tough on her.  I tried to cushion it a little and then worried like a sick puppy the first few months she was in college.

Now, guess what?  She had a talk with him last week while I had the pleasure of listening in.  She said "Daddy, thank you for pushing me.  I'm so happy and I know I'm where God wants me to be!  I would have never gone to this school if you hadn't done that and I'm so grateful."  Big hug.  Huge tears.  And my husband said "You know that was the hardest thing I've ever done.  I didn't want to be mean - I just knew in my heart it was the right thing to do."

I'm sitting there watching this feeling like I'm in the Twilight Zone!  What?  I thought it was wrong!  I thought it was over-bearing!  I was convinced I was the right one by being the protector and spending countless hours worrying over whether or not she would survive!  And yet....he's the one she's thanking.

Big wake up call.

I told Stephanie that I was sorry if I coddled too much and she said she needed me to at that point, but that she saw after awhile how good the decision was for her.  I told her she was the first born so she is the "guinea pig" when it comes to me learning along the way!  Maybe by the time my 10-year old is her age, I'll finally figure out what it means to be a parent of an adult. 

But I think I know the first step now.  I will no longer be a worrier.  What a complete waste of time and energy! I heard once that worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.  It does not make me a better mom.  It is not proactive parenting.  It is the opposite of trusting God!  Instead, I will be a warrior.  Instead of worrying about my kids and feeling out of control, I'm going to relinquish that control and pray like nobody's business that God will protect them and guide them.  He did it anyway, even though I worried, but what good did the worry do me?  I guess it gave me a few new wrinkles and a lot of sleepless nights...but it got me nowhere.  Praying, instead of worrying, will bring me into the peaceful place of rest that God intends for me as a parent.  Trusting.  Believing.  Honoring his word!

This mom is officially a warrior.  A prayer warrior!  Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes.  Sometimes the decisions we make for our kids are hard - especially as we let go more and more as they become adults.  But the rewards are astronomical.  I've got an amazing adult daughter who is walking confidently into the call God has placed on her life - and she's turning into quite the warrior herself.  Thank God my husband is the strong man he is and he could see that, even though it was the hardest thing he'd ever done, he had no choice but to do it out of love and obedience to God - so he did. apply my new warrior mentality to my 18-year old son, who recently moved to the big city of Chicago!  Rod had to push him, too.  I see a pattern here.  

Lord, help me!

Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Who Are We When Nobody's Watching?

Today I went shopping at the Super-Target (that's what Moms do).  I needed groceries and a few school supplies for the kids.  After an hour of shopping, I was ready to go.  I'm not one of those women who lives to shop by any stretch!  I can only take so much shopping. 

Anyway, after my groceries and supplies were rung up and I saved $30 in coupons (yay me!), I was on my way out to the car in the 95 degree heat.  I unloaded my cart and realized that the milk was still under the cart - and I had completely forgotten to hand it to the cashier.  Nobody seemed to notice, but I knew it was not my milk yet because I hadn't paid for it.

So I began to think....

It's super - hot and if I leave these groceries in the car to go back inside, that won't be good.  Nobody noticed.  I didn't do it on purpose.  It's not like I do this all the time.  I don't want to have to wait in line again.  Maybe I should just....

Then it all just stopped as I knew in my heart I had to go pay for the milk.  No sense in entertaining these ridiculous thoughts anymore!  Gosh, it's so easy to justify things sometimes.  So I left my groceries in the car and took the milk back inside.  The security guard was standing there watching me bring the milk into the store. "Is everything ok, ma'am?"  "Oh, yes, this milk was under my cart and I forgot to have it rung up, so I brought it back in to pay for it."  He looked at me with a huge smile and said "God bless you, little lady."  I smiled back at him as I realized God used this man's words to remind me that blessing always follows obedience.  

I went to go stand in line and immediately, a new line opened up, so I didn't have to wait at all.  I paid for my milk and walked out, passing the security guard who was still smiling at me.  My groceries were only in the hot car for a few short minutes.  It was worth it.  Maybe nobody noticed that I took it out of the store, unpaid for, but God did.  Maybe nobody would care if I drove away.  Most people would understand, right?  But God would know.  God would care.  And you know,  even if some people would think it was silly and not a big deal, I know it was the right thing to do.  As I walked out, I could feel God's pleasure.  He was pleased with this decision and He was already blessing me!

As I drove home, I prayed that God would help me to see if there are any other areas in my life that I think I can get away with because nobody's watching.  I thanked Him for the reminder that He sees and He knows everything.   I prayed and asked Him to continue to help me to live a life of integrity and to build my character.  I have so far to go - but He is good and He will never give up on me!

Is there something in your life you think nobody is noticing?  Maybe you have people in your life who have noticed and they are telling you it's not a big deal, but you know in your heart that it's wrong.  You keep doing it because you want to believe it's not a big deal...but you are living with a constant dripping faucet in the back of your mind.  Today can be the day that you can be free.  Nobody may notice, but God will.  And He will be pleased, my friend. 

If I hadn't taken that milk back to pay for it, I would have given the enemy a foothold in my life.  Don't allow him to convince you it's not a big deal.  What starts as a tiny spark can turn into a raging inferno if it is not dealt with.  The hard choices are called "hard" for a reason - they take guts.  But God will give you the strength and the ability to stop the drip. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 
 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.


Multi-Tasking Mom

I was moving the clothes to the dryer and cleaning out the lint
When half way through my cell phone rang so I ran to answer it

My friend who was calling had some problems to sort out
I listened in intently as she shared what they were about

And as she talked, I looked around and saw so much to do
So I began to wash the dishes and wipe the counters, too

While I was multi-tasking, I thought “Why not clean some more?”
So I took my broom & dustpan and swept the kitchen floor

My conversation ended but now my neck was stiff and sore
The phone was cradled on my neck while I talked and did my chores

I walked toward the medicine cabinet to get some pain relief
But on the way, I remembered that I needed to thaw some beef

So I opened up the freezer and found some beef to thaw
About that time, my dog came up and nudged me with his paw

I took him to the back door to let him out to play
I saw some dirty socks and picked them up along the way

The window on the back door was smudged with who knows what
So I took some window cleaner and clean the door right up

But as I did, I saw a note I’d written the day before
“Remember to go get toothpaste when you're at the grocery store”

I knew that later I wouldn’t have time, so I’d have to go right now
I began to search for my car keys – although time would not allow

I looked up high, I looked down low, I looked around and round
But lo and behold, my car keys were nowhere to be found

But while I looked and wondered where my keys could be that day,
I saw my pillows on my couch were left in disarray

Straightening them and fluffing them, my mind continued to race
What was I forgetting to do as I put the pillows back in place? 

Oh yeah! I forgot the laundry still needed to be dried
So I ran back to the laundry room after letting my dog inside

Once the clothes were in the dryer, I heard the phone again
I decided to let it ring this time, or this cycle would never end

Sometimes I'm like that Bunny that keeps going & going & going...
But my heart is longing to slow down, my spirit has a longing

So I stopped and grabbed my Bible as I prayed and asked the Lord
To help me focus better now as I spent time in His Word

Within a few moments, as I prayed and read a Psalm
A sound came from the laundry room – it sounded like a bomb!

It was loud and it was clangy and I ran to go and see
It was my dryer making all that noise – that’ s where I left my keys!

My neck no longer ached and my keys were finally found
Thank God He gave me sense to stop and helped me to rebound.

When life gets crazy busy and you're running all around,
Be still before your Father so your sanity can be found.

-Leslie Nease

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Joy Set Before Me

I think I'd rather do just about anything but go to the roller rink this afternoon, but that's exactly where I'll be going.  I'm not a big fan of the roller rink.  It smells like third grade to me.  I didn't like third grade.   I know that sounds weird, but I remember going to the roller rink all the time in the third grade and it's honestly not much different today.  Carpeted walls.  KC and the Sunshine Band playing "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!".  The mirrored disco ball.  The hokey pokey.  The dice game.  Couples only.  That funky smell of the spray they use in the roller skates to "disinfect" them.  Yeah, it's still the same.

Third grade was tough for me.  I was overweight, totally insecure and nobody liked me.  During "couples only", I was always sitting, wishing I was out there skating with someone.  I wasn't exactly what you would call popular. I think it started when we were sitting against the wall at gym class and we had to sit "indian style" (it wasn't a politically incorrect thing to say back then).  Before I even knew it was coming, I "let one rip" (passed gas) and it thundered loudly against the wooden suspended floor in the gym.   Everyone looked at me "EWWW!!!  Gross!!"  It was the end of my reputation, if I ever had one.  Oh, do I feel for kids in grade school!  The only good thing about third grade for me was my friend, Jimmy.  He had a wooden leg.  I thought that was pretty cool.   I would sit with Jimmy at recess and he would teach me math since he couldn't play on the playground equipment like everyone else.  I liked Jimmy a lot.  But I hated third grade. 

Did you ever have a year like that?  An awkward, socially destructive, frustratingly difficult year?  Oh, it's the worst.  The only thing worse is seeing your child live through a year like that.  If I didn't know those difficult days were what God used to build so much of who I am, I'd give anything so my kids would not have to go through it at all.

Back to the roller rink issue at hand.  Why, you may ask, would I go to the roller rink this afternoon and subject myself to memories like that?  Because my kids love the roller rink.  They've been wanting to go for awhile and it's so hot outside today that I told them at 1pm I'd take them to the roller rink.  You'd have thought I hung the moon for them!  I suppose when you love someone deeply, sacrifice isn't much of a sacrifice at all.  At first I didn't want to go...but seeing their reaction and knowing the fun they will have has made my whole perspective change.  It brings me joy to see the joy in their faces!  I will go for the joy set before me!

What sacrifices have you made for those you love that ended up being a joy for you?  Did you know there is Someone who made a huge sacrifice for you - and it brought Him joy to do it?

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Hebrews 12:2-3

Got Questions?