Facebook Fast

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Okay.. It wasn’t a fast. I straight up wanted out. Out of the drama. Out of the posts that were less than authentic. Out of the arguments. The back biting. The passive aggressive warfare meant to injure with wit and snark and the ever revealing emoticons. Off the breeding ground for competition.

So, I got off. No explanation. No “don’t you wish you were this pious” statements. I just left. Status hanging in mid air, comments left unmade, posts unliked and liked. I agree that originally my emotions led the choice, but my mind kept the commitment. And it was hard… At first.

I felt out of the loop.
People would text me and say “Did you see such and such?”, and I hadn’t. People would start conversations about something they saw in a status and all I could do was listen and silently agree or disagree. Articles posted would be fodder for discussion, and I wouldn’t have a clue.

I felt isolated.
Here is the sad truth of it, most of my friends stopped communicating with me. Not sure if it’s just more convenient to chat through Facebook or if it was an “out of sight, out of mind” thing regardless, my phone stayed silent.
A lot.

I felt limited.
Take this blog for instance… You either stumbled upon it by chance, saw it on Pinterest (because let’s be honest what woman can live without that!!?) or happen to already follow me. There is something about having a cyber megaphone. Those lessons become group sessions and those words of hope become anthems! But, without Facebook, my ability to project was severely limited. I felt like a lion who suddenly became a tiny mouse. Where was my voice?

But, despite those inconveniences, here is what I found.

Time to read.
My Bible Study time increased exponentially. I’ve always been a reader and studier but now I was reading and studying simply for me.. Not to share a scripture or what God was teaching me. My lessons became truly my lessons not rolling through a Rolodex of names thinking who would benefit from my study.

I found more time for my girls to play or to talk or just to enjoy a movie or show on Netflix without interruption. It is amazing how much more “quality” that time becomes when half of it doesn’t consist of scouting out “I need to put this on Facebook” moments.

I came to appreciate Silence.
I realized that without a half dozen notifications popping up on my screen every 30 minutes I could actually set my phone aside. Like, in the back bedroom, far from my sight and from my ear. I actually missed texts! Can you imagine!? Remarkably, the world did not end.

I found less need for validation.
Did you know that research has found that the endorphin rush of getting a “like” on social media is akin to an addiction? Test yourself. Do you find yourself constantly checking likes, shares, and comments and feeling extreme disappointment when they don’t show? You might have a problem. Suddenly what we liked and what we need is based on what everyone else thinks what we should like and should need. Approval is a drug. And I can be an addict.

I faced Reality.
There was no hiding behind poignant posts to mask my feelings. Talking to my soul became quiet.. One on one.. And I found my soul without the encouragement of the Body, was significantly less empowered. There is a reason why God said it isn’t good for man to be alone, and whereas Facebook has it’s major hang ups and distractions, it can also be a beacon of hope to the desperate the discouraged and the hurting. Reality bites. It’s good to have those who recognize that taste.

I will find my way back to the Book of Faces in a few more weeks, but I am wiser having released myself (even if momentarily) from it’s hungry grasp. I challenge you to try. Break free. See what you’re missing and return with a purpose for being there.. Because it isn’t there to create a pretend life, it isn’t there to take out your anger based on insecurities on those who would be exposed, it isn’t there to aid you in posting pictures and being validated and bragging on our kids (which certainly impacts them more if we SAY it not tag it), but it IS about belonging, finding a place to share your voice, to grow in faith and understanding. If you’re a Christian, it’s a place for ministry and mission work. Just don’t get lost. Because in a world of faces, we need to see more of you… Literally.

Magnetic

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As a teen, I wondered what would make me more attractive to those around me. I knew I wouldn’t be the most beautiful or the most talented or even the most talkative (shocking, I know!), but I wanted to be someone who stood out. I struggled to feel important and even necessary at some points. I wondered why I struggled so much even as I believed in Christ – that should be the answer right? And He was, but I didn’t know what that looked like for me or to those around me.

The struggle was real.

Recently, I was given a book to read that really put those questions in perspective. Here I am 38 (gasp!) years old, and I still find myself struggling to be seen or to be attractive. So much for “it won’t matter when you’re older.” It matters. And even more so, it matters to all of us girls – young or old, ancient or adolescent. We all want to know we are contributing beauty to the world we live in and when we are gone will leave a void where our shining light used to be.

“Magnetic – Becoming the Girl He Wants” by Lynn Cowell ties all these thoughts together and provides a blueprint to help you get there. Sounds too good to be true?… Well, it depends on which “he” you want to get! Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a list of characteristics that will lead us directly to becoming a person of influence. They are called “Fruits of the Spirit” and each one of them are pleasing and attractive to those that are affected by them and infected with them. (Infections aren’t all that attractive but for the sake of poetic license just go with it.)

Cowell takes each fruit and defines what they mean translated into day to day life. It may be a book written for teen girls, but each issue addressed can carry over into the life of any woman struggling to be more. She gives practical advise to rethink how you deal with the world and circumstances around you and pushes it through the lens of the Holy Spirit, Who alone has the power to transform your mind and your life! The point is to establish a sweeter character by changing the way you act and react – whether it’s love and understanding that love is compassionate, or peace and bringing His peace to those around you, or self-control and taking reign over that little two edged sword the tongue! Ultimately, incorporating these characteristics affects the world around you, sets you apart as someone of grace, and this will make you stand out like a candlelight in a darkened room.

The beauty that Lynn tries to portray is this … You aren’t worthless or unlovely or unimportant, but as you live in the power of the Holy Spirit, He attracts the right people to you! This is important to teen girls as they desire to attract teen boys, but good boys that don’t need sex to spell out love or arm candy to parade around to his friends but sincerely desires to find a girl who loves him for him and who challenges him to be a better man and most of all recognizes and admires the character of Christ in her. Because if you have ever seen a magnet line up with other random metal objects, it is the magnet with equal or greater strength that is most powerfully attracted to the first!

I presently have an 11 year old girl and a 13 year old girl, and I will give them this book to read because it’s important. I want them to seek to be His not just be popular or the best. It is my heart that they will establish these characteristics into their own lives and not see it as so much a struggle but a challenge. I want them to gain the right attention and to be treated the right ways, and perhaps more importantly, I want to see them treat others the right way. I want them to know that they are enough and Christ in them makes them MAGNETIC!

Do your daughters, nieces, granddaughters or Goddaughters a favor and buy them this book! I assure you, as one who has a decade of experience ministering to broken hearts and hurting souls, you will be making an investment in their future.

Order yours here 🙂

Another Look at Proverbs Thirty One

From the time I was pronounced as a bride, I have been admonished to live up to the character of this woman. Not that that is a bad thing, but it can be quite intimidating and daunting a task, even for a woman that feels guilty for resting. One of the most peaceful words of advice I have ever received regarding this woman, and by a mother of 4 and consummate wife, were these: “It’s important for us to remember, that this was over her lifetime, not in the course of one day.” Sighhhh. Can I tell you what a relief that was to a mom that was stressed to the limit trying to make every day look like a “successful” day as it lined up with that woman!

 

Then, yesterday, I was reading the Proverb again. Try as I might it always convicts me to be better, to do more, to give more, to love deeper. Only, as I was soaking in the gargantuan challenges, God whispered to my ear, “This is a look at My Bride.”

 

So I read it again, this time not as woman failing, but as the Bride of Christ striving to make my Groom proud. I challenge you to read it and do the same:

 

 

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
 She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

 

I’ve heard a lot of attitude about service lately. Some of us are of the mind that it doesn’t matter, that it shouldn’t drive our actions, and the smallest offering we give should be enough. We don’t want to be bothered in our selfishness to actually “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And, we don’t want to be treated as we treat others. I challenge us to think past ourselves. To see our “husband at the gates” as our Father in Heaven, our eternal Groom. Is He bragging on us? Is He, like with His beloved Job, able to point us out and say, “Look at him/her! Look how well they love me, how obedient they are to reach out to others, to serve with their whole hearts.”

 

Can He trust us with the work? Can He be assured that we are taking care of the affairs of the home while He is away? Do our actions and words prove that He is a good Father, a loving God, a generous and gracious Groom? I pray so. And, that is what I am living my life for…not to gain respect or admiration or the praise of others, but so that He is praised and respected and worshipped for the amazing One that He is!

 

I will do my best to live up to the character of the Proverbs 31 woman as a wife and mother, but I will give my all to be the Bride of Christ that is worth far more eternally than the accolades of any human being, because what I do in this life needs to mean more, do more, and inspire more to find the Groom that so desperately loves us all. My effort is not to gain His love, I have that without trying, my desire is to kneel at His feet with arms full of crowns that I did not attain on my own and hear the words, “Well done….enter your rest.”

Benchwarmers

I was a bench warmer.

I got a front row seat to every game. I had the vantage point of seeing the plays before they were called. I got to crowd-watch and get to know other players on other teams, mostly because I wasn’t a threat. I got to enjoy those moments with the coach when my teammates excelled, and I felt the burden of defeat along side of them. I handed them water bottles when they were exhausted and provided a body to lean against when they were weak. I didn’t feel slighted or second best. I was a bench warmer, and I enjoyed my role.

“Substitution!”

My blood went cold, and my heart leapt to my chest when I saw the coach jump up from his seat and signal. I watched the look on the players faces and heard the star player begging as she made her way to closer, “Don’t bench me, Coach! Don’t bench me! I got this!” While my voice trembled and echoed in a silent prayer, “Don’t bench her, Coach! Don’t bench her!”

But, the whistle was blown, the look was given, and as I squatted at the table so the statisticians could record my number, I lookedlongingly at my bench. Suddenly nothing felt right anymore. The plays that I had just seen drawn and imagined played suddenly became mine to call, and Icouldn’t remember them! The Coach was trying to get my attention, and I was commanding lunch to stay down. My feet felt heavy and the ball felt awkward and my ADD brain couldn’t handle the activity around me.

So there I was. Bracing myself. “Just get through this play, Leslie!” I begged. “Play and you can go back home!” I barely felt the ball, concentrating all my energies instead on not regurgitating, making sure I was still upright, and looking for some word of direction from my teammates. The flurry of activity was amazing, and voices I recognized screamed out, “Pass it to me, pass the ball!” I strategized and I maneuvered and watched in agony as the ball was snatched and launched in the wrong direction. All the while, trying not to look at the safety of my bench and the discouragement of the star player.

“Go!” the Coach signaled frantically, “Get the ball back!” Almost to the point of tears, I rushed after the opposing team. The missionimpossible theme was playing in my head. Only it wasn’t for me, it was against me. This back and forth went on for quite some time before my substitution ended in a mess of tangled shoelaces at center court. And finally, Praise God, the whistle blew!

I sat back on my bench, resisting the urge to rub it and lie down and cuddle. I was home. Finally. Doing what I did best, cheering and encouraging and watching. I barely even noticed the Coach put his head in his hand after he ushered the now rested star back on the court; I had finished!

Here is the thing about us: the star player and I. We both had practice. We both ran laps and did push ups and learned plays and did drills. Only, she pushed herself, and I merely cooperated, doing the minimum to get by. She wanted to excel and I merely wanted to be a part of the team. She wanted to win, and I just wanted to finish. Needless to say, it showed on the court.

I am a bench warmer.

And the danger of that is, I want to stay a bench warmer. It is far easier for me to watch the game and do what is comfortable than to ever take the court! It’s far easier for me to cheer others on than to hustle and sweat and actually play the game. I don’t want to be the star player, but I want her to win!

Life isn’t much different.

I still long for the comfort of a bench.

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