Friday, May 22, 2015

It's the little things that can mean the most

Life can throw a lot of lemons at you, and when you are obedient to the Lord, I find the lemons come faster than I can dodge them. Satan is like a multi-armed hindu goddess wielding lemons like we are in a game of Dodgeball. Yet I am David with my rock and sling against this 20-foot giant with 10 arms and mountainous piles of lemons, sometimes, it seems I may never win.

The more I become obedient to the Lord, the larger the monster and the bigger the piles of lemons. But I am a warrior woman of God, and I am armed with a shield. And a small army of amor-bearer friends, to hand me more rocks to aim at this monster. Those small gestures of handing me a rock while I use my shield are monumental to me. This is not their battle, but they are there to offer me a smile, encouragement, and another rock to aim at my enemy.

When I see a friend having a hard time, I like to offer them some sort of gesture, just to let them know they are not in this alone. Yes, it is their battle to fight, but I will be here to encourage them along the way. To offer my support, I will...
- offer the gift of touch, a silent reassurance that I am standing with you and will squeeze your hand in solidarity
- offer the gift of a hug, to squeeze your shoulders and neck as if to fill you up with a refreshed source of strength
- offer the gift of a smile and a nod, because sometimes there just really isn't anything that can be said to bring comfort
- offer the gift of a snack or beverage, just to let you know I'm thinking about you and want to bring a little cheer and lift your spirits
- offer the gift of acknowledgement, through text, email, social media or phone call to remind you I am "on your team"
- offer the gift of laughter, because sometimes we just need to laugh to release the tension of a situation
- offer the gift of food, sometimes we just need to eat our way through the pain
- offer the gift of escape, to whisk you away to make a new memory and shift our focus and restore your spirits
- offer the gift of scripture, a well-timed WORD will arm me enough to tackle any enemy

Don't underestimate the power of these small gestures. I had a friend give me a necklace as a thank you for my support, but little did I know at the time, I would be the one needing the support from it's message, time and time again in it's short life since we were united. It says, "The Lord will fight for you, You need only to be still." -Exodus 14:14

So even when the enemy attempts to destroy my reputation, attack me at my weakest spot of vulnerability, or steal my joy... if I only stand still, He WILL fight my battles, and I will stand victorious over my enemy. Sometimes the best strategy in the battle is to let the enemy wear out. My shield(s) will protect me: Psalm 91:4 "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."

All I really need is one big rock to take my enemy down: Psalm 18:2 "The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety."

the necklace, the gift:-)

Take aim at your enemy my sisters, the Lord has your back!


Saturday, May 2, 2015

#Hashtag Hurts

So I've been trying to find a topic to post about for the first one that wasn't too controversial to talk about. I want women to feel empowered, supported, confident and CONVICTED by their faith. My life is hardly perfect, and I am hardly a perfect Christian. But I get up each day and try again. I make a lot of mistakes, but I try to right the ship and try again.

Maybe you have been on social media sites and have noticed people using the # sign with their post. These days we call it a "hashtag". In my day we called it a "pound sign." (Showing my age here, ha ha.) On social media they originated as a way for people to join a global discussion on a particular topic, and for you to see what others were saying about it too. For example, if you wanted to see what everyone was saying about this year's Super Bowl ads, you could search for #superbowlads2015 #advertisingbowl2015 or something similar. And if you wanted to say something about it too, you would add these hashtags to your comments.

In more recent times, people have gone to use them as secondary thoughts to their original post. For instance, someone may post, "It's a beautiful day here at the beach on my vacation. #wishyouwerehere #feetinthesand". These hashtags and their uses have evolved. Sometimes trends can take over, and people join in the conversation and the fun that can come along with the use of hashtags. But there are some drawbacks too. Sometimes, #hashtags hurt.

I've seen a recent trend of using hashtags as a means of comparison. As Christians, I think we have an obligation to avoid comparison. Sometimes that means we have to be more mindful of little things like the use of hashtags.

Can we talk about using these specific hashtags for a moment?

Insert whatever you might be tempted to use here in those blanks... my husband, my mom, my kid, my church, my best friend, my photographer... the list is unlimited for these fill-in-the-blanks.

When I see these hashtags used, it hurts me, and it can also leave an unintended scar on those who see it. Sure, it builds up the lucky recipient, the object of your affection... but it can hurt others. You might be reading this and saying to yourself that I am being too sensitive. You may even be surprised at the gravity of your hashtags or comparisons. You probably didn't intend to hurt anyone, because your intention was just to shower love and appreciation on someone you admire.

Here is what I feel when you say that your husband is better than mine:
- my husband cannot compare to yours
- my husband isn't as worthy of praise and admiration
- my husband couldn't be as equally loving or doting as yours
- my husband doesn't love me as much as your husband loves you
You build up your own husband while you tear mine down in the same statement. You are saying yours is amazing/awesome/wonderful and mine is not.

I fear this allows a spirit of comparison and judgment to enter into our lives. Are we unintentionally leaving a door cracked open for Satan to creep in?

Here are some scriptures that really convicted me about the dangers of comparison:

Matthew 7:1 - 2
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

John 7:24
Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.

Romans 2:1
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Isaiah 5:21
What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.

Isaiah 37:23
Who is it you have mocked and blasphemed? Who have you raised your voice against and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!

These are just some references that helped convince me about the dangers of comparison. And the slippery slope is that it doesn't really stop there. Comparison can then encourage other scary spirits like arrogance and bragging. Can we agree that it's hard to claim a spirit of humility when we are focused on comparison?

Let's check out some other biblical evidence:
Isaiah 2:11
The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

Isaiah 5:15
So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

It's not that there is ANYTHING wrong with complimenting your loved ones or patting yourself on the back occasionally for a job well done, if it's done in the right spirit. How will you know if you are in a good place about it? Ask yourself these questions:
1 - does this comment lift up and praise those mentioned and not mentioned?
2 - does this comment encourage and praise others in a way that won't harm others?
3 - does this comment provide recognition of friends/family in a healthy way?
4 - does this comment avoid comparison and provide edifying content?
If we can answer those questions affirmatively, then we are on the right track.

Here's how I think we can change the conversation. I would just encourage you to find a way to show appreciation to those you love without unintentionally putting down others you care about at the same time.
Let's try using these hashtags:

A good friend reminded me that, "... in today's egocentric society, when we take our eyes off God, we tend to focus on ourselves instead. If we keep our eyes on Him, our speech and attitude will reflect Him." She also pointed out that "comparison is the enemy of contentment and the friend of resentment". -Summer Tullier (you can find her on Twitter @SummerTullier)
I will do another blog post just on the spirit of comparison in the future - there is so much ground to cover! This is just a small sample of the topic.

We need each other to get through the tough things life throws our way, so let's not push others away with our words without consideration. This blog will offer some tough love at times, not because we need more parenting, but because it can push us to be better Christians, better women, better people. I hope you come back again, and I encourage great conversation and dialogue.

Blessings to you my friends!!