Archive of ‘Faith’ category

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!

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.

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.

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?

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.

When Insecurities and the Messy Middle Collide

It’s the kind of thing that leaves my fingers frozen on the keyboard, staring at a blank screen. It’s when insecurities and the messy middle collide that has me stopped cold, not knowing what to do next.

These are days when I believe my story is not big enough, or brave enough, or tragedy-to-redemption enough. It’s just vanilla.

There’s nothing wrong with vanilla. I love vanilla, especially when it’s in the form of ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce, but vanilla is predictable. It’s perceived as ordinary, boring, safe. It is the crowd pleaser. Most people like it, but it’s not going to change the world, shake things up.

And, even though I worked hard last year, writing, networking, researching, I still doubt. This writing thing? Does it really matter? Does anyone, besides my mom, really care?

That doubting voice is working hard like it is her job. “Nobody wants to read vanilla.”, she says.

So, the doubting voice is there. Then there is the messy middle. It is when you have too much time, and sometimes money, invested to give up on your plan/goal, but you are not sure what to do next.

It’s when you set goals, lofty goals, and met them, but you forgot to plan what to do after that point. It’s like when you hit a plateau in weight loss. You’re trying like heck on the treadmill but all you’re doing is wearing out your shoes, the scale not moving.

Both are equally frustrating but when the two meet? Houston, we have a problem.

That’s where I am at right now. The insecurity of the messy middle. Doubting myself and this plan. Is it His plan too? Is the plan worth pursuing?

There will always be doubt…it stinks to be human sometimes, but the doubt shouldn’t be crushing.

Psalm 56: 3-4
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

Don’t fear the messy middle. Pray, then keep moving through it.

My dream is not someone else’s dream. It’s unique to me. Yours is unique to you. Believe that. Trust your gut and trudge through the messy middle. When insecurities make themselves at home, kick them out and move on.

At least that is what I am telling myself.

Merry Christmas to You…

I designed a Christmas card this year…but in my quest to do less this year I became a total slacker. I also didn’t get a few presents mailed out in time either, or even ordered in time….they will arrive after Christmas, which kind of defeats the purpose. But, hey, that’s not what is important, right?

If I had order and mailed my Christmas cards, this is what it would have looked like:

Christmas card design

Photo by ReasonYou Photography

May you have a Merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year!

 

This is Your Permission to Keep it Simple

Advent

It’s a little over a week into December. The holidays are fully upon us. Are you feeling stressed yet?

I hereby give you permission to keep it simple this year by cutting the stress and relaxing.

But, you say you have lots and lots of things to do. Parties to attend. People to shop for. Dozens and dozens of cookies to bake. Gifts to wrap with creative wrapping that rival Martha Stewart.

“How am I supposed to keep it simple, or relax for that matter?” you ask.

Well, it turns out I have a few ideas…

Give Love. The Beatles said it best: Money can’t buy me love. No matter how expensive the item, it will not guarantee the gift recipient will love you more for it. Lexus, with the big red bow on top of the car, I am talking to you. Love is greater, and best of all, it’s free.

Give Time. Your time is also free and greatly appreciated by all who receive it. Help an elderly neighbor shop, cook for someone in need, or take a friends’ kids off their hands for the evening. The simple act of your time shows you care more than any wrapped gift you could buy.

Decorate less. I have a huge collection of Christmas ornaments and decorations. Over the years I have weeded out a lot of stuff but still, I have too much. This year, hubby has had health issues. We probably won’t get the lights up on the house…and that’s okay. Really. There is no such thing as Holiday Light Police.  Every year I dread putting these things away. Decorating less means I have time for more important things…like taking a nap.

Do Less. I give myself (and you) permission to say “no” more often to holiday parties/events. Sorry friends, but it’s for the good of my sanity. If you don’t have the energy to create an Advent calendar, Elf on the Shelf, or decorate gingerbread houses then, to quote another famous song, Let It Go, Let It Go.

Spend Less. Never use credit cards to purchase gifts…EVER! If the money is not in your bank account, don’t buy it. Find a less expensive alternative and sing with me again: Money Can’t Buy Me Love.

Focus on Family. A few of our simple, family traditions include crafting of Christmas ornaments. We pop popcorn and watching The Grinch. And, we stroll the Christmas light displays around town, stopping for hot chocolate or a Caramel Brulée Latte. These are the simple memories that will last a lifetime.

Enjoy the Season. Chances are good that your holiday won’t be Pinterest-perfect. Just go with it. Smile and laugh with your kids and family when things go wrong. Relax. December will come and go, and summer will be here before you know it.

The Reason for the Season: Let’s not forget WHY we celebrate Christmas. I honestly don’t think Jesus would be pleased with all the stress we put on ourselves this time of year. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? “…you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” Yeah, that.

I give you permission to keep it simple this holiday season. Can you feel your stress level going down already?

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Lisa at Over the Big Moon wrote an amazing post entitled: Why my Husband and I Cancelled Christmas. Not surprisingly, she got some very hateful comments. She got a lot of encouraging comments too, because it turns out she is not alone in this feeling that her kids (and this world) has an entitlement complex. I encourage you to read it with an open mind. Parenting is tough. Not everyone would have the guts to do what she did, but some might. It is working for her family and that is what matters.

 

Why Advent?

advent

Why Advent? Advent is a time of spiritual reflection and celebration leading up to the birth of Christ on December 25th. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The word ‘Advent’ is from the Latin word “Adventus,” which means “coming.” It is more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth and the Word of God. It is the spiritual journey of us all, as we affirm that Christ, our Savior, has come, that He is ever-present in our world today, and that He will reign again.

Advent Bible Study

Looking for an Advent Bible Study Guide to help deepen your faith in the season? Pick up Lara Williams’ new book, then came Jesus. Then, follow along as Lara blogs through the Season of Advent. I also will be blogging, studying, and spending time reflecting in the Season of Advent with Lara’s book.

How do you celebrate Advent?

***NEW joyful designs in the shop now…just in time for the holidays. Visit my shop here.

30 Things | The List

NOVEMBER-LookingAtSunset

November is over…rushing in comes December!

I found sticking to a list of things to seek out and show gratitude was a little more challenging than in past years. How about you?

  • One thing worth it’s weight in gold: Neighbors taking pity on us for Thanksgiving dinner after Glenn’s surgery.
  • One thing lost, then found: I thought I had lost some pictures I took last Christmas, then found them in the most unexpected place. Why did I put them there?
  • One thing restful: Doing nothing on a Saturday afternoon.
  • One thing that nurtures my soul: Sleeping in! Seriously, all.week.long.
  • One thing in Him: He works in great & amazing ways…connecting myself and a like-minded blogger friend, who lives half way around the world.
  • One thing orange: It’s more coral, but in the orange family. This scarf.
  • One thing received: An anonymous donor to my Small Seed Bibles for South Asia campaign.
  • One thing given: Operation Christmas Child boxes filled and delivered.
  • One thing crafted: Christmas quilt wall hanging (it’s almost finished, anyway).
  • One thing found in the morning light: Chihuly glass here.
  • One thing said unexpected: An old friend came to town, friendship missed.
  • One thing encouraged: My girls’ awesome teachers.
  • One thing that made you smile: My new little work space…no more working spread out on the sofa.
  • One thing answered: Unexpected freelance work.
  • One thing so small I almost missed it: The frost on an autumn leaf.
  • One thing savored: Crockpot full of chili on a very cold day.
  • One thing sung: “Greater” by MercyMe.
  • One thing reminding me to have faith: Read on Twitter…”Get out of the boat and have faith.”
  • One thing about you: My body, although not perfect, perfectly me.
  • One thing a blessing in disguise: Not sure I can answer this one…maybe the blessing in disguise hasn’t revealed itself yet.
  • One thing autumn: The trees looked on fire with orange reflection of the sunset.
  • One thing in verse: Philippians 4:6-7
  • One thing gentle: Parker’s hugs just when I need it. The gentle way she brushes my hair out of my face.
  • One thing spouse: My hard working hubby.
  • One thing when I looked up: The clouds coming out of IKEA.
  • One thing at work: Well, there are 5 people at work that rock!
  • One thing in my kid: Parker for her fashion sense.
  • One thing of my choice: One thing in my other kid: Alex’s kindness to friends.
  • One thing of my choice: Cheesy chick-flicks.
  • One thing of my choice: Looking down at a stone path that was art under our feet.

So, how did you do with in the month of gratitude?

 

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