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Friendships Are Still About Connection

Since days of long ago,  friends have reached out to each other to communicate when they had to be apart….usually in the form of paper and ink.  When I was a child, I had a collection of stationary – all colors, themes, some even scented, and all with matching envelopes or seals.  I loved writing, sending and of course, receiving letters.   I remember the excitement of checking the mail box every morning to see if a letter had arrived. 

Today, my stationary sits in a box in the back of a cupboard and I don’t even know what most of my friends handwriting looks like, because I rarely have reason to see their communication in print form.  It’s just another change that technology has brought to our world…but it’s also opened the door to  more varied, and definitely faster means of keeping us in touch with our circle of friends.  It’s so easy to send an email, a text, an e-card, or to post something to a social site.  Via social sites, we get to reconnect with old friends too that we wouldn’t otherwise have opportunity to stay connected with.  We get glimpses into their lives via pictures of their family, friends, and we get to share in the special events of their lives such as birthdays, weddings, births, etc.

We must also keep in mind, however, that the virtual world is not the real world….the oh so glitzy, life is good, best bits glimpses into other’s lives are not a true picture of  reality.  The Bible warns against being envious of what others have or of judging others which is a hard thing for all of us to not be tempted to do.  So many times I have thought someone just had that perfect, all together life only to find out with closer scrutiny that it was just a front they would put out for the world to see, while  real world life for them was actually ” a hot mess.”  God wants us to be like Paul, content with what we have, where he has placed us, and to focus on doing the best we can with what we have…as wives, moms, employees, bosses, and as friends.

Friendships are a wonderful thing, and God can richly bless us via modern technology and especially via forms of portable media access to help us stay connected to each other.  Via media, we can also find and connect with people that we wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with via blogs, and social sites,  and God can use those people to enrich our lives.  I have met many special people over the past few months just from blogging.  They have taught me, inspired me, and enriched my life.  It has been good for me to read the blogs and websites of other women who are trying to be godly wives and moms because it helps me keep my focus and perspective where God wants it to be.
9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.  Proverbs 27

As Christians, we have a responsibility to honor God with our connections to others, and we should be careful to make sure that whatever we communicate to others reflects his love, and honors him.  I have tried to be careful with what I put in written form that can be publicly viewed by others, and to not get caught up in the HE said, SHE said, kinds of  conflict that so easily occur.  When I’ve messed up, however, I’ve had to make formal apology as well and try to make amends or clear up any misunderstanding.  Just the other day my feelings got hurt because I was told about wrong information being gossiped about me…I had to just remember that when misunderstandings occur, God knows the truth and He is ultimately in charge.  I resisted the urge to post a comment and just handed it over to Him to take care of (and He did).

In today’s fast paced world, we should cherish our  friendships, and the means to so easily stay in touch with those we care about.  We should remember, however,  to make sure that at times our closest friendships get preserved with more personable communication too….an actual phone call vs a text, maybe a birthday card via snail mail vs email, and of course – one on one time with each other face to face without any of the distractions of modern technology.

Prayer For Your Friendships: May your friendships be cherished, preserved, and blessed by the Father above who looks down on us with joy when our ability to relate to each other reflects His love for us.        Image Above:  Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Who’s The Bait For?

*ASSERTION

* BANDWAGON

*CARD STACKING

*SNOB APPEAL

*SLOGAN

*LOGO

*TRANSFER

*PRICE APPEAL

*STACKING

*REPETITION

*GLITTERING GENERALITIES  *TESTIMONIALS  *CELEBRITY STATUS  *CAUSE AND EFFECT  *EMOTIONAL APPEAL  *CONFUSION  *SEX APPEAL  *TECHNICAL JARGON  *NAME CALLING  *PLAIN FOLKS

Are these terms familiar to you? and are they familiar to your children?  When recognizing the influence media has on our children and how much their world is bombarded with its messages,  our responsibilities as parents becomes critical.
When I was in high school, I took a class on marketing strategies and we learned about how the advertising world targets varying ages, social groups, genders and personality types to lure them into buying or trying their product or believing the messages they are trying to deliver.  This opened my eyes to the world of bait and hook, and I realized that is also Satan’s specialty.  He loves to find the thing that we least suspect to be a hook, and he just waits for us to take the bait and run with it.
It is a wise thing to use filters and parental controls on the forms of media our kids have access to on their own…but it isn’t foolproof.  We can’t protect them from being exposed to some things that will be potentially dangerous or harmful to them.  It is good to empower our children with knowledge and to teach them discernment when we can.   The internet has many resources for learning about these marketing strategies so that we can teach our children.  We can watch TV with them and spend time on the computer with them showing them things that are meant to deceive them, and discussing the differences between what may be portrayed in a TV show with worldly influences and God’s standards.  There are so many opportunities to engage our children in meaningful discussions and to involve them in the process of learning to think for themselves, instead of just following the crowd and easily taking the bait.
There are also many resources for learning about the various forms of media our children are interested in that we may have limited knowledge about ourselves.  A very good resource is Be Web Aware http://www.bewebaware.ca/english/default.html, part of Media Awareness Network.  This site has many interactive tutorials, links, and resource tools to help you become an educated and involved parent.
A PRAYER FOR YOUR CHILDREN:  May God equip them with discernment and may they experience an open, involved communication with their parents that will help them to see through the deceptions of the world and empower them to look to God for guidance and wisdom as they live out the concept of Being IN the world, but not OF the world.

Image above courtesy of: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Media and Our Marriages….Do we recognize the potential problem?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

..walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.       Ephesians 4:1-2

The marriage vows….
Our wedding day…. 
On that happy day, we make vows, not just to our spouse, but to our Heavenly Father.  It is supposed to be the beginning of a journey of learning self-less unconditional love.  In those sacred vows, with our marriage founded on Christian love, we have a Helper to bless and nurture our marriage all the days of our wedded life.

What happens when the honey moon phase is over?  We discover what kind of love our marriage is really being built on….selfless Christian love or love of self.  It is easy to think we love someone and not realize that we are actually using that person to fill up the loneliness, emptiness, and restlessness that only God can fill.

If we are not placing God as head of our marriage, then the emptiness, loneliness, and restlessness will return.  It is then that we become vulnerable to the vices and temptations that can destroy our marriage.  In this day and age, the internet, texting, chat boxes, and other social outlets make it very easy to be enticed into being dissatisfied with our marriage partner and looking for other self gratifying ways to plug up the holes inside.  It could be engrossing ourselves in hours of entertainment, internet surfing, etc, or it could be the danger of an emotional or physical affair.

We have to recognize the source of the problem.  I have found myself vulnerable in times that I felt disconnected from my husband, but more importantly from God.  Fortunately, God enlightened me as over the past months I have watched friends get caught in these traps.  When their marriages break on the crashing rocks of infidelity, they very quickly turn to the social outlets to fill up the holes, and dull the hurt and pain.  Instead of turning to God to be their lifeline, they immediately repeat the same vicious cycle.  How can they expect their relationships to turn out any different?  How can they expect God’s blessings on their life or future marriages?    Why can they not see that God can’t fill up their emptiness because they keep beating him to it, and filling up the holes with their own self-gratifying quick fixes.  Why can they not see that it is a relationship of death.

Why is it death? Because a relationship is a living thing.  It is either growing and thriving or it is stagnating and dying.  Only if God is involved can the relationship be truly maturing and growing.  People make the mistake of thinking the relationship is alive because it is currently making them feel good and feeding their ego.  Without God, however, it is certain death.  It may be quick or it may slowly wither and fade over months and years.   We have to put hedges up around our marriages, especially with the temptations so readily available to distract and destroy us via modern technology and social sites.  We have to be diligent about guarding our minds, thoughts, and passions because we all could easily fall into the traps.

My prayer for any reader of this post is that God would richly bless your marriage,  protect and nurture it,  and continue to grow it into a beautiful, living, thriving relationship that teaches you selfless love and dependence on Him.

This site is linked to:

http://womenlivingwell.org/category/media-mondays/

If I Could Speak to a Family Member Who Has Passed

Angel

I would speak to my Gran. She was a jolly soul with the melodic voice of an angel, enthusiastic and creative kindergarten teacher, and just alot of good ‘ol fun. She was someone who lived out unconditional love and her faith in God was so strong. Her love for me and the time we spent together for the first 18 years of my life gave me a source of strength and encouragement that I draw from daily.

WHAT WOULD I ASK HER?

I would ask her to tell me a story…any story….she could tell a story like no other!

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Father’s Day Reflection: SHE HAS HER DADDY’S BRIGHT BLUE EYES

 My husband has beautiful, penetrating blue eyes.  When I first met him during my college days in Atlanta, he was intrigued by my mysterious, quiet personality, and I was intrigued by his friendly charm and bright blue eyes.  Those are the eyes that I looked into when he proposed, the eyes I looked into when I said my sacred marriage vows. and the eyes I still find captivating on a daily basis.  His eyes are like the ocean, not just because they are blue, but because they reflect the depths of his soul…and it is a tender soul that feels every human emotion, but more importantly, reflects the One who resides inside his heart….Jesus.

The first date that I ever had with my husband, he spent hours talking to me and getting to know me.  As he told me about himself, he told me that he was a Christian and came from a close, loving Christian family. My husband is very passionate and sentimental about certain things, and when he talks about something that has deep meaning in his life, his eyes soften and reflect tenderness and joy.  When he talks about his values and especially his relationship with Jesus, those eyes become the most tender I’ve ever seen.  Like any marriage, our marriage has had it’s shares of trials and tribulations, and it is when those eyes become tender and reflect his faith in a higher power and his support and encouragement for our family, that I am the most comforted.

My husband is the father of 2 girls.  The first born also has blue eyes like her father.  On Father’s day in the year 2000, I reflected upon how much a father passes on to his children in genetics and in personality and values.  I captured my feelings and sentiments in this poem:      

SHE HAS HER DADDY’S BRIGHT BLUE EYES:

She has her daddy’s bright blue eyes
And thinks he hung the moon and the skies,
She has his compassion for tender things,
A hug, a kiss, and the whole world sings.
She shares his love of things of the past,
That sentimental side that hopes “now” will last.
Childhood memories are held so dear. 
“Family” means loved ones are always near.
Yes the passing onlooker often spies,
That she has her daddy’s bright blue eyes.

 My oldest was only 7 at the time I wrote that poem, and now she is 17.  And yes,  I see within her eyes that she still has these same qualities.  She is growing and blossoming into a young lady.  I know that one day, I will see another look in my husband’s eyes…the look of pride he will feel on her wedding day, when he entrusts her care to another.  The years may pull them further apart as she embraces a life and family of her own, but she will always share her daddy’s eyes,  from the deep ocean blue color to the deep steadfast strength of a heart that knows Jesus, family, and love.

Dialogue Daze

     I was content with a cell phone with very primitive features while the world around me kept upgrading and upgrading into the advanced texting and internet surfing fastlane.    I was shocked when I watched my teenager who had never had a cell phone of her own, text with finger fast reflexes and a texting language that was Greek to me.  How did she learn that I thought?  And then I realized that in her world, it was a necessary social function. 

     You may be relieved to know that I have finally moved into the current century of technology.  I upgraded to a phone that allows me to text with ease, and I have become more adept at texting and chatting.  I enjoy the ease of communication that comes with a quick  text that can be sent and responded to at convenience, and I enjoy the chat box dialogue with friends and family on the internet.  But, I am disturbed by the impersonal tone that inevitably occurs to a relationship when all or most of the interaction you have with someone is via text or chat. 

      I was concerned when I heard a mother of a teenager talk about how her daughter will not answer the phone when she tries to call her, but will  send her a text message saying “What do you want?”.  In my opinion, that is rude and disrespectful but to some it is considered the accepted norm of communication  and the one they prefer.   I don’t think I want my child learning that is normal communication.  I want them to still know how to pick up a phone and be personable  enough to talk to someone.   No matter how convenient, the technological dialogue can not replace the meaningful changes in voicetones (whether subtle or distinct), the sound of laughter, the tenderness of a heartfelt wish.   The person you think you get to know via back and forth exchanges of technical chit chat,  may not be as you imagined.  In fact, when in person you do meet, you may be surprised at the unexpected awkwardness that replaces the comfortable connnection you thought you had.  Technological dialogue is  a necessary function in today’s society, but I think something precious is being lost to this new generation who are so comfortable with relating to a person via an impersonal screen.  

 

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