Monthly Archives: November 2013

What Are You Made of?

There comes a time in everyone’s life where we are given the chance to see what we’re really made of.

Those situations that you hear about people going through and think, “I couldn’t possibly handle those circumstances if I found myself in them” become the very circumstances you find yourself faced with.

I could list a number of examples, but I don’t believe it’s necessary because you know them already. A diagnosis, an unfair judgment, a broken relationship, financial distress – whatever it is, you very well may be living one of those difficult circumstances right this very minute.

No matter how you spin it and rightfully strive to keep a healthy perspective, it’s just plain hard. Today I want you to know that I acknowledge how difficult your trial(s) may be. It’s okay to feel the hurt.

But please don’t let it define every last aspect of what your identity is meant to be. If you follow Jesus you are called to be something greater than a statistic or a title that others want to give you.

You are a child of God and therefore His heir.For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:14-17

You are an overcomer. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

You are holy because He is holy.And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10

So what are you made of? If you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, you’re made of so much more than what your emotions or your enemies are trying to tell you. Nothing and no one can possibly remove you from the protection and power that comes from the pure and perfect love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

Rest in the truth of God’s promises. Then stand up and fight with the power that comes from knowing you are more than your circumstances.

 

When I Broke my Picture of Grace

I broke the first piece of art I’ve ever been proud of within a week of bringing it home.

I went to spend time with some of my friends at one of those cute pottery painting places last month, and walked away from our session really excited about the outcome of my little masterpiece. It was a new feeling for me. I always feel awkward the second I grasp a paint brush and am faced with the task of creating something pretty with free-hand painting.

My brain turns to mush, I fight back hyperventilating, the brush shakes in my hands, and I feel utterly silly about the whole thing. “It shouldn’t be that hard! It’s not a big deal.”

But for some reason, the reassurances I mutter to myself don’t work, and I walk away feeling like a kindergartener who is just completed her first messy art project at school.

This time was different though. I’m finally starting to accept my limitations and that I don’t have to be defined by them. I have learned time and again this year that grace means I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t even have to be good. I just have to accept God’s grace and let Him work through imperfect me.

(It also helped a whole lot that I sat next to an artistic friend who encouraged me along the way while I painted that coffee mug, giving me suggestions for color choices when I asked every 8 seconds.) 🙂

I picked up my little piece of artwork a couple of weeks later and treasured all that it represented to me. Something I actually loved and had created with my own shaky hands. Something that I could look at every morning when I drank my morning brew and smile about the light of grace in my life.

Broken Art

For 3 days, I did just that. Then that busy afternoon in my crowded kitchen when the baby was crying and time was slipping away from me, I didn’t notice that I’d placed it too close to the edge of the counter. I didn’t notice until my elbow grazed it, and I heard it make that that deep, internal smash on the floor.

My picture of grace was destroyed, and I felt the lump form in my throat. How could I mess up grace? Why did it have to be ruined so quickly after I found triumph over something that has plagued me for so long?

Because it was not actually grace.

Grace is not something I can create. It’s not something I can destroy. It’s not even a result of anything good that I’ve done. It’s a gift given to me by Jesus. He went through the fire much hotter than my mug did after I painted it. He died and 3 days later rose again. The man Jesus, whom His disciples and family had grown accustomed to seeing each day during His time on earth, was finished.

But He was victorious. No, He did not physically stay with them the rest of their days on earth, but because their picture of grace died and rose again, He became much more than a picture.

He became the real deal. How much greater that is than an earthen vessel!

Linking up with:

Soli deo Gloria

Imperfect Prose

Less is More in Online Socializing

The timing of her phone call was impeccable.

Lately I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking, and even research, on social media’s effects on us. What I’ve learned prompted my decision to set up personal limits on how much access I have to it. But I hadn’t told anyone else except my husband, and we were just finishing up conversation number 862 about how things needed to change.

The Social Media Debacle
Photo Credit

Then a friend called, and without knowing what was on my mind, she started in. “I’m so disenchanted with the online world right now.” Her personal online demons aren’t the exact same sites as mine, but the problem is the same, and the research is proving that she and I aren’t the only ones.

Along the way, we as a society have come to a place where we view social media’s proper place incorrectly. There are two key facts that seem so obvious that I shouldn’t need to list them, yet studies are showing that they aren’t very obvious anymore.

First, social media is not real life. It seems like a no-brainer, but why else would we get emotionally charged after seeing pictures or posts from others? I love the phrase I’ve seen several writers adopt to describe this syndrome. It’s impossible to know everything about someone’s life from their online highlight reel.

Are highlight reels bad? Not one bit! I love seeing pictures of what is bringing joy into the lives of my friends. It’s my responsibility to remember that what I’m seeing is only a small glimpse into a solitary snapshot of their day. If I can’t handle that, then I need to step away from observing for a while.

We would all benefit from remembering that social media is not an ideal place for word vomit either. Nobody enjoys being around a Debbie Downer in real life, let alone online. Highlights and word vomit combined make for a tumultuous journey through one’s news feed, and it’s no wonder we feel worse after spending a substantial amount of time online instead of living life.

Which leads me to my next point. Social media shouldn’t be an escape. God has given all of us a real life to live. It’s a gift that most all of us take for granted from time to time. My friend said something so wise while we talked on the phone that day which summed up the feelings I was trying to sort out. “For far too long, I’ve looked at online as an escape. But why would I want to escape my life? It’s wonderful!”

I couldn’t agree more.

My life is wonderful. I don’t deserve or need some break from living the life I’ve been given. This doesn’t mean I don’t need rest from time to time. Or that I can’t ever spend time catching up with those I love through social media. What’s essential here is that I maintain a healthy view of my life and put social media in its proper place.

I am thankful for the way social media allows me to stay connected with friends who live far away. While we are living our own stories out miles apart, it’s great to be able to get a glimpse into their current life’s situation. It’s also fun to get to zoom in on what kinds of things my close-to-home friends are up to with their own callings and families.

However, the moment I sense the switch going off in my brain that makes me long for a different person’s life, I know I need to walk away, take a good look at the blessings that I have in my life at that very moment, and live my life without trying to escape it.

Less is more, especially when it comes to spending time online from the days we’re given to live life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have you ever had to overcome an issue that social media has created in your life? If so, how did you do it? Feel free to leave a comment or send an email.

Linking up with:
Soli deo Gloria

The Social Media Debacle

The Social Media Debacle

Photo Credit

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how to effectively bring changes I want into my life and my habits. While I feel at peace about where I am and what I’m doing in the big life situations, there are those “little” things that we all struggle with. These little things look different for all of us, so I realize that not everyone will relate with the specific example that I’m about to share, but I challenge you to not tune out just yet. Because as sure as you’re human, you know that you have something that is your personal kryptonite.

A few weeks ago, I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone. Forever. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve done my fair share of trial runs with “Facebook fasts,” but I’ve finally acknowledged some facts that have been eating at me for a while.

  • I despise the fact that I’ve walked away from Facebook more than once feeling angry, annoyed, judged, or judgmental.
  • My heart breaks when I hear one person I care about after another candidly admit that something they saw on Facebook made them feel one of the things I mentioned in the point above.
  • Multiple studies have been done about the effects of Facebook on people, and the results aren’t good. Facebook-induced depression and bullying are actual problems in our society now. Here’s just one of many articles I found on the topic: Why Facebook Makes You Unhappy
  • With Facebook readily available to me throughout the day, I find myself wasting time on it rather than living out my day the way I want to.

This change in my life may not sound like that big of a deal. I’m not deleting my account, and I still interact on it at least a little bit every day, but I’m blown away at the huge difference one “little” change has made in my life.

I think that most of us want to believe we are exceptions to statistics. At least I do, but I have to admit that less Facebook has made me a happier person. I really didn’t think that I was unhappy to start with, but my mood has been much more positive and I have actually enjoyed the time with my family even more than I already was.

Media of all kinds – news or social – is noisy and it never, ever stops. While small doses of both are great, they aren’t meant to permeate every spare minute of my day. Technology has wired our brains into thinking that quiet times of the day are a bad thing when that is simply not true. Being still is glorious! As much as I love seeing what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family, I don’t need to read every single thing they post to love them. In fact, stepping away from social media a bit requires me to have actual conversations with them. I can’t check with them on Facebook anytime and anywhere that I want to, so that means I should send them a text or give them a call. Those means of communication will always be more personal, and we all need that closeness in our lives.

Knowing that I’ve made the commitment to do more than just “fast” from Facebook on my phone has definitely changed my mindset. It’s requiring self-control and commitment, and accomplishing goals like that do so much for boosting my morale and determination. Now that I’m admitting it to the world in this post, I definitely can’t turn back, and I feel more happy and free with each word I write.

What about you? Has Facebook or some other form of social media taken over in your life and you’re ready to take back control? Maybe you don’t struggle with screen time, but in your heart you know there’s something else that far too easily becomes a stronghold in your life. How will you take action to take charge and change?

Stay tuned for my next post on social media coming tomorrow!