Guarding Your Heart Against Social Media

To grow my blog, I must network using social media. Or, so I am told.  But, is using social media bad for your health? Are you guarding your heart against social media?

Social Media Break Up

I’ve had a Twitter account for a few years, but really didn’t use this social media as it is intended. I am a natural introvert, which is the opposite of ‘social’ media.

Mostly, Twitter was linked to my blog. A tweet was posted when a new blog post was published. That’s about all I did. After a few years I had total of 62 followers. 

In social media terms that is LOL, literally.

Six months ago, I started a little Twitter experiment. I used, engaged, tweeted, retweeted, and commented on Twitter to gain followers, and ultimately blog readers. In six months I went from a lonely 62 followers to 350 followers. Still, laughable, but it was an improvement.

In the beginning, I found inspirational tweeps out there. (Tweeps, that’s what we call followers.) But, the more I used it, the more useless chatter filled my brain. 

Also. People can be really nasty when hiding behind a keyboard. The kind of stuff that makes my heart race.

The million dollar question? Did I gain more traffic to my blog from Twitter? The simple answer is no, although it’s a little more complicated than that.

Not only did the traffic to my blog not increase from Twitter, but I wrote less because I spent so much time listening to the chatter, drama queens, haters and trolls. (Trolls are what we call bullies and not-so-nice people who pick fights.)

I know some who say Twitter is dying; I don’t think that is so. There are a whole lot of people who still use it, and use it well. I am sure there are companies who have great success with it too. 

Right now, for the health of my heart, I am breaking up with social media.

Why for my heart? Our heart is at the center of who we are.

In Hebrew the word “heart” means “the essence of our inner-self, the totality of our thoughts, feelings and will”. According to Solomon, we live out of our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) is a plea from a father to his son to guard his heart from evil influences and wrongdoing.

It’s easy to justify having to have social media links on my blog…everyone’s doing it, that is how people connect nowadays, or that’s how you grow your readership.

The justifications I make for not guarding my heart against social media really don’t pass for good reasons. We must filter what goes into our hearts. The decisions we make every day must deepen our relationship with Christ. Whether it’s what we read, how we speak to others or what we post online because “…it determines the rest of your life.”

Social media is not good for my heart, so I am taking a hiatus. I might be back some day, and if that day comes, I will be more careful about the chatter I listen to and follow.

A social media hiatus for me means Twitter, is gone. Facebook, is gone. Google+, is gone. Instagram, will remain private. Pinterest, will remain public.

It’s almost unheard of to say ‘no’ to social media, but it’s what I feel I need to do, for now.

How are you guarding your heart against social media these days?

Author’s note: I am not saying social media is evil and will be the downfall of human-kind or anything. So, if you love Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever, keep doing it. And, of course, if you like to share this post on social media, you still can with the buttons below. I am just saying it’s not working for me right now. And, remember, what you post online never really goes away. Ever. Images: The heart graphic above was created by using images found at Vecteezy.

LINKING UP | With Holley Gerth, Coffee for Your Heart. Read amazing women blogging and linking up there!

To Live a Creative Life

Words have power. Words can uplift or destroy. Words inspire me to live a creative life.

This quote is the perfect inspiration for my One Word, Create, so I designed this fun print available in my shop. Also, this design is available on coffee mugs, throw pillows, phone cases, and tote bags. Add a little creativity and inspiring words to your home decor today.

The Power of Prayer is Real

Have you ever prayed for something that you wanted/needed badly? Have you ever prayed for healing, whether for yourself or a loved one? Were those prayers answered? I have, so I know the power of prayer is real.

It’s not to say those prayers were answered just the way I wanted, because God answers prayers, and sometimes the answer is “No”. But there is always an answer.

Which brings me to ask, “How’s your prayer-life?” My hubby says he has trouble praying for himself because he already has so much more than others. So, he prays for others. Lifting up others in prayer is a great thing.

Let me introduce you to someone who knows personally the power of prayer. Her name is Sister Mary.

power of prayer

For years, Sister Mary suffered from painful stomach aches. Doctors couldn’t help her. The pain was so great, one night she made the decision to take her own life. On that night she meet someone who would change that decision, and her life forever.

His name was Jesus.

Since meeting Jesus in a vision ten years ago, Sister Mary has used the power of prayer to help the sick and suffering in her small village. She has prayed for thousands, transforming their lives and hers. Jesus has a way of doing that.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12

As followers of Christ we are called to pray for others. Prayer is one of the best ways to strengthen our relationship with Him.  By the way, He wants us to ask for help, when we need it, too.

So, maybe you are like my hubby, and don’t want to pray for yourself, but want to pray for others. He can change the lives of others through your prayers.

Power of prayer

Here are some ways you can put your prayer life into action:

Pray for Widows. The treatment of widows in South Asia is unimaginably horrific.
Pray for Abandoned Children. Countless children in Asia have been discarded, aborted, and abused, but they are not forgotten.
Pray for Asia’s Youth. Did you know that 40 percent of India’s 1 billion people are under the age of 18?
Pray for Missionaries. Everyday missionaries in South Asia risk their lives as they share the love of Christ with others.

Watch this inspirational video entitled “When Sister Mary Prays”. Then, humbly lift up Sister Mary in prayer.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting, so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He may give to you.” John 16:15

Do not doubt the power of prayer.

* * * * * *

*I am a Gospel for Asia blogger. I am not paid for my posts. I feel blessed to share inspirational stories like this one with my readers. GFA is a Small Seed. Photos courtesy of GFA. You can learn more about GFA here.

Everyday Lens of Life

It’s been life moving way too fast around here. I just say, slow down already. Captured here is everyday lens of life.

Parker-Nerd

This girl really wants to wear glasses…

SONY DSC

And this girl officially became a teenager.

Alex-StockShow

Love me some goats!

SONY DSC

Getting ready for a free throw!

Parker-Ears

Brave little girl got her ears pierced.

Parker-Ears2

1, 2, 3…

squirrel

And this guy stealing bird seed from the feeder.

Which reminds me, I need to get some peanuts for my homemade squirrel feeder. Squirrels need love too.

A Love List for Jesus

Because we don’t say “I love you” enough. Because sometimes we ‘forget’ to say it. Just in time for Valentine’s Day…A love list for Jesus. Because it needs to be said.

I love Him

  1.  He said the truth, not what people wanted to hear. He wasn’t afraid to call out the Pharisees on their bad behavior. Luke 11:37-44
  2. He is dependable in His own time. John 11:38-44
  3. He is an encourager. Matthew 6:34
  4. He is compassionate. John 8:1-11
  5. He is calm in the storm. Mark 4:35-41
  6. He didn’t care what others thought about the company he kept. Matthew 9:11
  7. He forgives. 1 John 1:9
  8. He lost his patience a few times too. Matthew 21:12
  9. He endured the worst of human-kind had to offer on the cross, yet He did it all for us. 1 Peter 2:23-25
  10. His family tree is full of broken people, just like all of us. Matthew 1:1-17

Because it takes writing a list of things I love about someone that reminds me how much I love them. Thanks to Pastor Steve for this little assignment.

So, what would be on your list?

LINKING UP | Faith Barista // Missional Woman // The Jenny Evolution // Holy Splendor // Simple Moments Stick // My Freshly Brewed Life // Sandra Heska King // Click on over to read inspirational words written by women for women.

My Big Fat Lesson in Internet Safety

I have been living with a teenager for a week now and it has been an education. As in, a big fat lesson in internet safety. Some of you may have been there, done that, but for me, it’s my first time to this rodeo. And this rodeo just kicked me in my butt!

We live in a visually stimulated culture. As if you didn’t know that. Everywhere you turn, sex sells things from shampoo to cheeseburgers. Pop stars are hyper-sexual in their lyrics, dressing, and videos.

So, it shouldn’t be shocking when my teenager sees sexual images online, whether intentional or by accident.

Yet. It is.

Gone are the days of finding a Playboy under their mattress. It’s so much more scary. There are real sickos out there, just waiting for our teens to take the bait on the internet.

Serious sickos.

Our kids can Google something seemingly innocent and porn will pop up on the screen. They can be curious about a website and get more than an eye full. They can give out too much personal information and open themselves up to an online predator.

Besides the constant enforcing of internet rules, what else can we do to help my teen navigate the internet? By using protection. Protection in the form of big, bad parental controls.

A quick Google search finds a lot of information on the subject of Parental Controls. Programs one can install that will track keystrokes, take screen shots every so often, social media controls/blocking, help prevent cyber-bullying, and password controlled programs. 

A couple of highly useful articles I found for those of us who are new at this are Digital Trends and Top 10 Reviews on Internet Filter Software. And, if you want to freak your kids out read this story about the dangers of sharing too much information online.

One thing I know for sure? Get it. Install it. Learn it. Use it.

Okay, that’s four things. 

Also. Something else happened. Let’s call this one a temporary lapse in judgement, or who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-kid.

Trust was tested. 

Did I mention it’s only been a week?

She’s still learning and growing up. I am still learning to parent a teenager.

Just like when I held her for the first time…I admit I still don’t know what I am doing. I am still learning how to do this parenting thing. Gone are the days of time-outs. Now it’s grounding and removal of technology, which is like taking away air.

This week, living with a teenager has been a series of take-a-deep-breath-count-to-ten moments that make me think I have seriously screwed up. We are both learning together.

At least she hasn’t knocked over a gas station yet, so maybe it’s not so bad. Right?

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth, Coffee for Your Heart

Take Stock in the Here and Now

We are one month into 2015. Thirty-three days of resolutions, one words, plans, and lists.  It’s a good time to take stock in the here and now.

And, the here and now is winter. Just when I was thinking spring was just around the corner with 70º degree weather, Mother Nature slapped us in the face with 8″ of snow this past weekend. Old Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow, so it’s official, another six long weeks until spring.

The term taking stock originates from ‘stock taking’ when farmers in the ye ‘ol days counted their stock, equipment, tools, etc. They took inventory of their assets. Taking stock can also mean assessing ones life to decide what to do next (which is what I think Phil is actually doing); or taking stock by counting ones blessings in life.

Taking Stock

I am pausing for a moment and taking stock in all the little blessings that may go unnoticed day-by-day.

Loving: Parker being so creative and sweet and thoughtful and silly and loving and…just wants to have a sewing day with mom only. I am cherishing this before she grows up and doesn’t think I am the coolest person to hang out with on a cold winter day.

Needing: An acupuncture treatment for dog allergies. Seriously.

Meeting: Friends at Starbucks to give blog advice and chat. Really, wonderful.

Creating & Sewing: Planning to sew new pillow cases. I have a long to-sew-list for 2015. But, before that I used Alex’s old t-shirts to make a few throw pillows (pictured above).

Link loving: #Create inspiration: Simply Me // My Art Journal // Oh Happy Day // Brave Girls Club

Watching: Alex playing basketball for the first time. I haven’t been this teary-eyed since she last competed at figure skating. Why do I do that? A good friend is her coach. So loving that, too.

Sharing: I am sharing a story for an e-book that a fellow blogger is working on. Lord willing there will be more news about that in the coming months. The Lord is blessing this woman in many ways!

Struggling: What do I write and do next? What is Your plan for me, Lord? I could use a clue right about now. Thanks so much. Amen.

Eating: More fruit in winter. And coffee.

Reading: My goal is to read one book a month. Check The Red Tent off the list. I highly recommend it, too. We are reading Junie B. Jones with Parker. We have read all of the book series with Alex, now it is Parker’s turn. And, I have started Gone Girl.

Planning: Alex’s 13th birthday celebration this week. She’ll officially be a teenager, even though I have been calling her a teen for the past six months.

So, what are you taking stock in?

Mother vs Mother

It happens before the moment we hold our baby for the first time. Women everywhere are taking sides in the mother vs mother debate. Natural child-birth mother vs pass-me-the-epidural mother.

Even before the sleep derivation makes us so crazy, men run and hide, women choose a side in the parenting-child-rearing war.

Breast feeding vs formula bottle feeding.

Co-sleeping vs crib sleeping.

Cloth diapers vs Huggies.

Organic, make your own baby food vs convenient store-bought baby food.

Nanny vs daycare.

And the dreaded stay-at-home mom vs the working mother. Which is an oxymoron, because all mothers are working mothers.

Whatever.

From the moment of conception, society demand mothers pick a side in the mother vs mother battle. And. It. Never. Stops.

Not even when your child is a toddler (spanking vs time out), or when they start school (home-school vs public school vs private school), or when they are old enough to walk to school, or get a cell phone, or have a sleepover, or wear that belly-bearing top, or go to a concert unsupervised without a parent hovering. And, the versus go on and on.

Motherhood is tough. I am going to say that sometimes it feels like a down-right battle field (moms vs our kids). We are all doing the best we know how. We are all doing what we feel in our hearts is right for our children, our family. So, why are mothers so often pitted against each other, mother vs mother?

Mothers are in the trenches everyday. We are getting our hands dirty and getting the job done. The last thing we need is another mother all up in our business, judging us, and undermining our parenting decisions.

We must stick together. We must make a pact with each other. When a tough parenting decision comes up, one that we know will make our kids’ unhappy and risk them ‘hating’ us, to stick together for support of one another.

String Art Project for Valentine’s Day

My One Word for 2015 is Create. Thanks to Pinterest I have a serious case of Create Envy. First up on the create list is this string art project for Valentine’s Day.

return of string art

Do you remember making string art in grade school? I vaguely remember making a gold and orange owl mounted on a brown piece of painted wood. Very 70s chic. Well, string art is making a comeback in a big way.

string art love

Just Google ‘string art’ you will see this is a very simple version of the art, but it is so cute for Valentine’s Day. And, the kids can do it too!

String art for kids

Go on…Create something.

INSPIRATION & TUTORIALS | Honey and Fitz was the inspiration for this project, also has an optional tutorial to using wood. Wonderland5 has 12 tips to make your string art project a success. LINKING UP with Craft-O-Maniac.

From Widowed Child Bride in Nepal to Hope

My daughter will be 13-years-old in two weeks. She’ll officially be a teenager. Which is exciting and terrifying at the same time.

She enjoys playing basketball and soccer. She is artsy, creative, and has a love for words. She is smarter than me at her age. She can be goofy and she can be serious. She is a loyal friend, and encourager. She is fun-loving and can cook a mean batch of scrambled eggs.

What she will be when she grows up, I don’t know. Will she attend college? Art school? Be a Starbucks Barista? Her possibilities are endless. Although, she hasn’t been making grand plans for her future yet.

One thing I do know is she is not ready for marriage.

SOME GIRLS ARE CHILD BRIDES BEFORE MY DAUGHTER WILL LEARN TO DRIVE.

Imagine being a child bride in Nepal at the age of 14 and being taken away from your friends and family. Imagine by the age of 21-years-old you had lost your husband to illness, buried your young daughter from malnutrition, leaving you to fend for your two daughters all on your own.

There is no family to offer support. No women’s programs to turn to. No food bank or soup kitchen to feed your children. No transitional housing for your family, let a lone a women’s shelter to offer a bed.

Imagine being completely on your own. ALONE.

Sounds depressing, right? But, this is not that kind of story. Yes, it’s full of unimaginable heartache, but it’s more than that. 

This was the story of Shiuli. A story of survival, hope, and the love of Christ. Click here to GFA to read her amazing story.

*I am a Gospel for Asia Blogger. I feel blessed that I may share stories of women, such as the one above, with you. GFA is a Small Seed, growing faith and compassion through their good work and love for Christ. Story and photo used with consent from Gospel for Asia. All Rights Reserved.

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