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?

FINISHING WITH EXCELLENCE (A Wedding Dress? A Life?)

 

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It was very time consuming. It was designed, cut out, marked, and sewed with delicate precision and it was a labor of love. It was my daughter’s wedding gown.

While I’ve sewn many projects over the years, including my own wedding gown, making my daughters’ was probably the finest item I’ve ever had the pleasure of creating and sewing. I was meticulous. I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I wanted it to be perfect. I made sure every seam was finished. Each of the 37 button loops fit perfectly over the silk buttons sewn on by hand. Hand stitches on other parts of the dress were so delicate you couldn’t see them.

The inside was constructed as detailed and beautifully as the outside. I tried, just for fun to keep track of how many hours I worked on it. It took about 150 hours to the point that all I had left was the hem. The final work required approximately 2000 inches of hand turning the delicate and individual 6 layers of fabric to a tiny 1/8” rolled hem. I felt it might get monotonous. It was at this point I asked myself, “What if I took a short cut here? What if I all of a sudden didn’t care about the final detail because I just wanted to get it done? What if I felt it would just be too much work and effort!?” Wanting to finish well what I had started, I prayed through the parts that were tedious until I could say it was completed with excellence!

Such is my/our Christian walk. We can all be meticulous – doing a very good job in loving and serving the Lord, but how will we end up when things get tiresome or maybe even a bit uninteresting, unadventurous, or even boring? It might be in my job, my marriage, or at church? I’m watching a few relationships fail as I stand in amazement at foolish and unwise choices being made – choices that affect an individual and the ripple effect to family, friends, and even people in the church. It causes me to ask myself, “How will I finish what the Lord has started in me?”

Just like with the dress, when it comes to the final touches, I want the final years of my being to be ones that continue with excellence, serve in obedience, and have prayed my way through it all – the fun parts and the tedious parts! I want to finish what was started….with excellence.

What’s YOUR plan to finish with excellence?

Don’t Be Jealous of Our Romantic…(WOW! Write On Wednesday! takes 1.30 min. to read)

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I’m glad I got your attention. Romance always does, right? You wonder where we might have gone that you’ll get to try some time. Or perhaps you’re thinking we found a great new spot for dinner and you’ll be adding it to your list of places to go!

Well, lane change! That’s not exactly where I taking you. Instead, I’m taking you on a little trip. Oh, yes, it’s a real trip. But it wasn’t the trip I was expecting and neither were you.

Recently, we realized in planning a trip for ministry, that the hopeful 3 days we’d hoped to have (just the 2 of us seeing the sites after the meetings) would need to include our son. The usual care options for our 33 year old son with special needs weren’t available for that frame of time and we would need to take him with us or not go. Delete the words not go and romantic. Even though the trip had nothing to do with romance, just the two of us getting to be together can be romantic because we’re not really alone that much!

We’ve come to realize that sometimes that “romantic dinner for 2” will actually be 3, or the trip that was to be just the two of us will be including our son. It’s a matter of vocabulary and attitude. If we want to do these things, sometimes we need to think outside the box and just make a new plan.

When your plans get changed, the romance you hoped would happen – doesn’t, or you can’t do what you’d thought you might, can you change the vocabulary and attitude to fit the circumstances and enjoy the journey?

I haven’t arrived yet; I’m still learning, but now I generally make sure I reserve a table for 3!

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.

 

TAKE IT BACK! (WOW! Write On Wednesday!) Read in < 2 minutes

Behind every

  • Disagreement
  • Argument
  • Mean spirited word or action
  • Abuse
  • Murder

are maybe 5-10 things that COULD have been changed if we were to trace it back and TAKE IT BACK to make a new and different decision along the way. We watch the news, our families and friends, and things happening in our work place or community and realize a few wrong decisions lead to (sometimes) very bad places!

I won’t belabor your time with examples of how this works. i actually want YOU to find YOUR own. Think of your most recent (and likely hurtful) argument or disagreement. Trace it back to who said what until you see where the confrontation/difference started. Then, recognize and OWN UP to YOUR PART and TAKE IT BACK. TAKE IT BACK as you go back in time and then also as you ask forgiveness of the person(s) you hurt.

What could you (and/or the other person) have said or how could either of you responded differently? Was it:

  • an action
  • a look
  • a remark
  • a sigh
  • a rolling of the eyes
  • other? _________________

that got it all started? Well…then TAKE IT BACK. Apologize. Make things right.

If we’d stop “in the moment” and make a different and better decision, we’d have less arguments, less crime, less divorce, less of all the things that tear up individual lives, families, and communities. TAKE IT BACK to the next right step and make a new, better, and right decision.

We might just find, if we TAKE IT BACK that we’re:

  • making more responsible decisions
  • not blaming others for OUR errors, sins, and mistakes
  • better off at work, with the family and in all relationships
  • happier in our marriage
  • supportive in our communities instead of hostile
  • forgiving one another
  • working together instead of tearing apart

If you’re not sure about this….TAKE IT BACK to the top and read it again!
If you’re ready to go, TAKE IT BACK!

And HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!