Saturday, May 18, 2013

Whom Do You Praise?

As I go through my newsfeed over at Facebook Land, I often see posts from some of my Christian friends talking about what the the father of lies (the devil) is doing in their lives (i.e, "I'm under attack from satan", The devil is messing with my life", "I must be doing something right; satan sure is mad at me", etc., etc., etc.).

Additionally, as I go through a day, a week, any time-frame, really, I often am privy to other similar offline conversations, as well.  Granted, not all Christians do this; but it does seem to be a very common practice. 

Frankly, this strange behavior has *always* bothered me.  If Christians are followers of Christ, shouldn't they, instead, be talking about what Christ is doing in their lives?

I wrote the following the other day as a comment to one of y'all's blogs that I read.  It sums up pretty well my feelings and opinion of whom Christians should be discussing regarding what's going on in their lives.  I share it here now, with y'all.  :)

I can understand how easy it is for people to focus more on the abilities of the father of lies than they do regarding Our Lord’s Majesty. Sure, satan can really muck up our lives – IF we let him; if we believe his lies. I personally prefer to remember that he is already defeated and that he will *always* be defeated; even (and especially) through Eternity. There’s an awesome security in knowing that he simply cannot hurt me; not in any manner that means anything. In fact, on the rare times that I do refer to satan (such as discussions like these), I intentionally refer to him as the defeated one; because that’s exactly what he is.

It’s not so much what other people do or say (or don’t do / don’t say) that shapes our lives; it’s our response to them (or any situation) that is what’s really important. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own lives. Having said that, each of us should also strive to treat people the way that Jesus would have us treat them. Sometimes people (anyone) can miss the mark on that – BUT, that doesn’t negate that ultimately we (and no one else) are responsible for our own lives.

Also, do we listen to the lies from the defeated one or do we turn our focus and attention to Our Lord? Do we praise the defeated one by talking about what all he’s doing in our life (because that’s exactly what it is to his ears; anytime we talk about what satan can do or is doing, we’re giving him praise) – OR do we choose to praise Our Lord instead, and to stand on His Word?

In Ephesians, Our Lord gives us specific instructions as to how to stand firm against the defeated one: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Here’s to standing firm in Our Lord’s Peace and Joy!
Be blessed,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Instant Communication

Note:  This post will probably step on some toes.  It's not meant to do so.  It *is* meant to offer another perspective; one that is, hopefully, also laced with encouragement.  There ya go.  :)

We are at a period in time when some of us still remember life before electronic communication.  Fiddle.  There are even some of us (though, admittedly, far fewer in number, who can remember that a telephone was a luxury and not every single home - much less every single person - had such a device).

Before electronic communication (emails, IMs, Pms, texts and the like), people kept up with their long-distance friends through postal mail (long-distance phone calls were very costly; and not considered a way of life back then).  Sometimes several weeks would pass before one friend replied to the other; it just depended on what else was going on in the writer's life during that time specific period as to how expedient they would be able to reply.

Part of that was that correspondence used to be an art; or at least, an event to be savoured.

I like that.  I like being able to sit down, relaxed and completely unrushed and focus my attention completely on whomever I am writing to at the moment.  I like being able to have moments of memories regarding the recipeint of my note.  It's almost the next best thing to be there with them.  I also realize that many of y'all are probably staring at your computer screen and asking me just exactly when you are going to be able to find the time to do this.  I get that; it's a busier world today than it was yesterday.   But, nonetheless, I still like thinking of keeping in touch as an event to be savoured; even if the event last just only minutes.

("Moments of memories" - y'all like that?  I just made that up.  At least I think I just made it up; who knows; the web of world wideness might be filled with that phrase.  That's how it goes; everytime I think I'm creating something original via my words, I find out that it's already been created and breathing on its own.  Fiddle).

Today, firmly ensconced in the Information Age, we can access any type of information in mere seconds.  This speed of transmission also applies to how quickly we can communicate with each other.

And . . .

. . . It also has changed our perspective on how quickly others should respond back to us.  We have become an impatient society; wanting our replies from others to arrive at the speed of light.  When the replies do not come quickly enough, we take offense and receive hurt feelings where none of neither was offered in the first place.  We imagine various scenarios as to why the other person hasn't yet responded; all usually pointing at some type of negativity that we know they must be feeling toward us.  "We", of course, is generic; "we", in this instant, truly doesn't apply to me; and kudos to you if it doesn't apply to you, neither. 

I'm not talking about business and customer service.  I do believe that businesses should be prompt in replying to inquiries, complaints, et al (however, I also do recognize that there should also be a reasonable time period allowed for such replies; and that time period is *not* instantaneous).  However, as I mentioned, this post is not about the business world.

This post *is* about the personal communications we have with each other; whether those communiques are via emails, PMs, IMs, texts or other similar such zooming-fast avenues.

Over the years, I have periodically received an electronic communication wherein the sender either asked me if they have offended me or apologized for doing so and/or both - asked about and apologized for an offense . . . when no offense was even perceived on my part.  The motive behind these notes?  I had not yet responded to their note they sent to me.  My memory can recall at least three separate times (with different people each time) where I have received such curious correspondence.  Since three times is the charm (as the saying goes) I've decided it's time for this post.

What's most puzzling is that those notes in question were sent maybe a day prior (if, even that long) to my receiving the writer's next note wondering if they had offended me; sometimes mere hours had passed before the question of offence was brought up.  When I then ask them why they think they've offended me, they then tell me because I haven't responded to their note yet.  Just to be clear, we are not talking about emails or PMs that carry any type of urgency with them, nor are we talking about notes wherein there was already pre-existing friction between the writer and me; the notes in question were not time-sensitive nor urgent in any way.


Heavy sigh.

Breathe in.  Breathe out. 

Repeat.  Breathe in.  Slowly.  Now, breathe out.  Slowly.

Now.  Repeat this 3 more times.

I had to take a moment to decompress.  Thank you for bearing with me (and perhaps, you, too, took your own moment to bring relaxation back into your life, as well).

Have we become that impatient as a society that all correspondence must be answered immediately?  Or, is it not impatience that fuels such uncertainty, but perhaps insecurity?  I ponder that last part because of various things I read on people's Facebook walls that clearly show their insecurity regarding their relationships with people as a whole (but, again, that's a whole other topic, for another day).

Either way, may I tell y'all, dear friends, that the outcome for the recipient (being me) of such notes is usally some type of stress; regardless as to whether the notes were fueled by impatience or insecurity, or even both.  If prior to the "original" note, there wasn't any friction between us, why create some by writing the second note wondering if I have been offended because I haven't immediately answered your first note?

Can y'all see how that would be frustrating; especially given the short time frame between when the first note was written and then the second note written?  Why borrow trouble where none exists?

So!  Here are some reasons as to why I might not respond to your note to me right away:

  • I may be time-pressed.  I might have time to read a note, but not have the time to respond.  Nature might have called.  The puppy girls might have come bounding up to me with tales to tell me of their outside adventures.  Tex might have come home (and, yeah . . . pretty-much, when Tex is home and is not working on his thesis or out weeding the flower beds or anything else that doesn't involve me, we are probably going to be together, focusing our time on each other).  Perhaps, grandbabies or great nephews and/or nieces or even non-familial babies entered the picture at that moment (yep, if a baby is around me, I'm definitely going to be immersed in his / her world, along, most definitely, with the awesome adults of whomever brought the babies to see me).  Maybe, I needed to turn my attention to things of the kitchen.  Perhaps there's a knock on the door and the person whose knocking either wants to award me an obscene amount of free cash or they want to name a new country after me.   Fiddle.  The reasons for being time-pressed are as many and as varied as there are shades of color.

  • One of the main reasons why I don't respond immediately to an electronic communication is that sometimes, my response to your note requires thought and contemplation.  I'll think about the contents of your note to me while I go through my day(s); and then when I'm ready to respond, I will.
  • Now.  Admittedly, there are times when I do let an email or a PM slip by with too much time before answering.  But that doesn't mean that I'm offended; it just means that either I'm forgetful or busy (or both).  Please don't automatically assume I'm over here, in my little corner of the world, nursing hurt feelings because of something that you've written (especially when the intent of your note was completely void of anything like that).  Really.  Don't do that.  Don't do that to me *AND* don't do that to yourself.   If I feel someone is being offensive to me (and especially, if it's out of their character to do so), I'm pretty capable of asking for clarification before assuming that an offense was intended.  And, even if an offense was taken (regardless as to whether it was intended or not, you can bet your boots that my personal preference will be to work it through with you; not to go on silent mode.    But.  Either of those two scenarious (asking for clarification or working through a rough patch with a friend) will often also require thought and/or time before I respond.  I'm not a "fly off with my fingers" kind of communicator (yeah, sometimes I do that with my mouth, but definitely not with the written word).  If too much time has gone by and you haven't received a reply from me yet, don't be shy about giving me a gentle nudge / reminder.  But.  Please let that timeframe be at least a few days.  And, remember, please don't automatically assume that you have offended me and now owe me an apology.  (Speaking of apologies, I receive waaaay more apologies from people than I think are required; regardless as to why the apology is proffered.  Rarely, rarely, rarely do I think someone owes me an apology.  Ironically, sometimes when I do think an apology to me is truly appropriate, it is not forthcoming.  Go figure.  We're a crazy, mixed up bunch, we humans - and I'm including myself that time in this particular "we".  And just as an FYI, frankly, I'm much more ok with the apologies that never come versus the multitude of extraneous apologies that are given so freely.  Please don't apologize your life away.)
There ya go.

One more thing, y'all . . . I've received several electronic messages over the past few days.  If you are among this specific group of wonderful people, please, please, please do not assume that I'm talking about YOU in this post.  And while there's only been one of y'all recently that has asked if they have offended me, know that I'm not talking only to you.  You, my charming friend, may have been the catalyst for this blog entry (being the charm of the third time and all that, doncha know), but I am *not* singling you out; you just gave me great fodder for this post.  :)

Thanks for reading, y'all!
Be blessed, relax, practice patience and take time to savor.
In other words. . . Chill, babycakes!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Gentle reminders

I love life lessons that are wrapped in gentle subtleness.  I've been blessed to receive a few such gifts lately; for me, they have been very profound and quite timely.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting our youngest daughter, her husband and their two kids (my two youngest heart captors, otherwise known as grandbabies).  Allow me to share a couple of incidents that happened that have affected me on a deeply personal level.

One day, Little Miss was running around the carport.  She's 3.5 years old; that's what she does.  She's a very agile, nimble and an incredibly active little girl.  Quite vivacious.  Absolutely loves life.  Suddenly, Little Miss tripped on a garden hose and fell.  Hard.  She fell hard. VERY hard.  Face-first onto the concrete (thankfully, her face didn't make impact; she caught herself before that happened).  My heart skipped a beat or two, and I immediately started towards her.  About a foot away from being able to reach her, this amazing little girl pushed herself up (into an actual push-up).  With pain being so evident from her facial expression, she then shook her head as if to say, "Pain, pain go away; I don't have time for you today".  She had some scraped knees and palms of hands.  She also had the breathe knocked out of her.  When I asked her if she was ok, she allowed me to pick her up and kiss her; and then she said, "Yes, Sharmie; I'm ok."  After we hugged and I put her down, she resumed her running adventure.  I also noticed that this time, she made sure not to run near the garden hose.

I was reminded of two valuable lessons from Little Miss that day.
(1) When you get knocked down, shake it off and go on with your life.
(2) Learn from your mistakes.

On another day during my visit, the kids were playing in mud.  Yep.  Mud.  They're country babies, doncha know.  :)

Bruiser Charmer Boy (who is 2) decided he needed to make more mud for his adventures.  He had a toy in the shape of boat (minus any sails).   It was the most perfect thing for transporting water!  He would toddle over to the dogs' bowl (big, honkin' huge thing - big honkin' huge dogs, also), dip his boat in and fill it up with water.  Then, he'd toddle back to his mud pit and dump the water.  The whole aventure, took probably took about 2 minutes, round trip.

He's 2 years old (and barely, at that), and he's still learning so many things (hopefully he'll continue to learn throughout his entire life).  He's extremely smart and very observant; but, give the boy a break - he's only 2!  One of the things he's still trying to master is how to hold things properly; in this specific case, how to hold a toy boat full of water so that by the time he gets back to his mud pit, he has more than just a drop or two remaining.  It was so cute to watch.  He'd get to the mud pit, turn his boat over to release the water; and instead of a couple of cups of water pouring out, only a small drizzle would make its appearance.   Did that deter him any?  Absolutely not!   I sat there for quite a while immersed in watching him make trip after trip after trip AFTER trip - all the while smiling and giggling (truth be known, both of us were doing the smiling and giggling).  At one point in all of this, his mother did try to show him how to hold the boat.  He tried; he truly tried.  But, perhaps, he needs just a bit more life under his belt before he fully understands that particular concept.

My lessons that I was reminded of while watching him:
(1) Little by little; each step toward your goal is progress.
(2) Don't give up; keep going . . . and SMILE!

Last, but certainly not least, there are several friends in my little corner of Facebook Land that have started new businesses recently (as recently as within the past few days to within the past few years).  Some of them are consultant type businesses for various home-party companies; some of them are craft-related, wherein they are making and selling the very wares that they peddle.  Some of my friends are immersed in various service and/or educational type businesses, while some others are writers (books, professional blogs, etc.).  Also, while not self-employed, some people are full-out pursuing their passions via their chosen careers.  The ages of such illustrious friends range from 21 years to 70+ years.  I like that.  I like that I have such an eclectic variety of friends.  Now, truth be known, and between you and me, my friend who is in her 70s, while definitely self-employed, has had her own business for a little over a decade now; but I still wanted to include her, here, - I've learned a lot from her while watching her run her business.

I love cheering people on and giving them encouragement regarding following their dreams and achieving their goals (or about other things as well; but I'm trying to stick to the topic, doncha know).  I love to hear (or read) about their victories; it's exciting and it's encouraging.  It's also very motivating.

I also appreciate knowing when my friends are needing a little extra support from their cheering section (of which I like to think I'm part of those groups).  Let's face it - pursuing one's goals; regardless of what such illustrious goals are - can be quite daunting at times.  It takes grit to keep at it sometimes.  It also takes a proper perspective . . . the gloomy gusses of the world rarely suceed in what it is they want to accomplish.  Please understand, there is a great difference between looking at things realistically and working through the downfalls, versus complaining about every little thing and having a defeatist attitude right out of the gate.  To my gloomy friends, my true encouragement to you, my heartfelt prayer for you is for you to change your mindset.  Develop joy and gratitude!  If you're working on this but are not quite there, keep plugging along.  If you haven't tried this approach, please consider doing so.  There is always something for which a person can be grateful; and that very attitude of gratitude, along with true joy, will shield you in the tough times and carry you places that otherwsie would not be possible.

I love that I can learn from people (when I truly want to and when I get ME out of the way).  I'm over-the-moon overjoyed that my sweet, precious grandbabies can teach me things just by being exactly who they are.

I love that I can learn from friends and other loved ones by "watching" their progress via Facebook. 

I think of my 21-year old friend over on FB; and I'm humbled by her stick-to-it-tiveness regarding her new business.  She amazes me; a young mother of a young baby, whose husband's career takes him away from home for a couple of weeks at a time.  Yet, she is plugging along and really making a success of her business.  Wow! 

I am also reminded of a friend of mine who is pursuing her chosen career full force; in spite of the undeserved roadblocks that have been placed in her path; such roadblocks being created by people who don't want her to suceed because she doesn't fit the "mold" of someone in that particular career.  She pushes through the painful experiences and still goes after her goal.  I find that extremely inspiring.  I have a lot of respect for her.

There are so many of y'all that touch the core of who I am and gives me pause to look at what y'all are doing - even in the midst of the individual adversities that each of y'all encounter.  I'm speaking of y'all, regardless as to whether or not your goal is a business/carreer goal or simply another type of goal.

I thank y'all deeply.  And, I want to encourage y'all to keep doing what you're doing . . . I'll be here cheering y'all on and being proud of your accomplishments.

Thanks for reading, y'all!
Here's to each of y'all's goals, dreams and passions!

Y'all be blessed,