Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What age for Facebook?

I am struggling at the fact that I am not struggling and wondering if I should in fact be struggling.

Did I totally lose you?

Here is what I do NOT struggle with:

My children who are not yet thirteen do NOT have a Facebook page.

That is not a struggle.  It is a clear cut rule.  Okay,  I know...I have broken rules before (swimming in a closed pool and going to Poltergeist instead of E.T. like I told my parents) and I am sure I will break some more again, but this is a rule that I am seeing a lot of children breaking with their parents actually setting up the accounts for them. The reason I know they know about their kids having a page is that they are "friends" with them.
The age limit for Facebook is thirteen, so before that, it should be a no brainer on whether or not to let your nine, ten, eleven, or twelve year old child use Facebook.

Of course, this goes back to the what I think is an obvious no brainer parenting strategy of NOT serving alcohol at your house to underage kids before a high school dance so that you can "make sure they drink responsibly," but that is a post for another day.

That being said, every parent will parent how they feel best, within reason, and let's just give each other the benefit of the doubt that we are all just trying to do our best with how we are raising our kids.  Let's not try to judge or get all prideful on what we think is best because at the end of the day, we do not know the dealings that truly go on in any home.

And I looked it up,  one study shows that only 5% of social media users are ages 0-17.  So maybe it is not really a lot, but just some children have accounts before they really should.

But my struggle is when do I let my children start?  That term "struggle" sounds harsher than it needs to.  I struggle with my patience sometimes, I struggle with not having late night snacks, but to put this decision in with those things that can ultimately be bad for you may be not quite right.  Or maybe it is right where it should be.

A decision that alone may not mean anything, but once habits form, could really take a toll on your emotional well-being.

Before you think this is a Facebook Bashing post, please know I think Facebook is a great way to connect.  And in the last few months, I have been grateful to Facebook for connecting me to like minded women who I would consider kindred spirits, as well as to old friends who I can get an overall, albeit brief, look at their families and feel a part of their lives.

And to be honest, I smile when I post a picture of my sweet kids and someone comments on how big they are getting or how cute they are.  Who doesn't like that kind of affirmation?  And although this study showed in one experiment being on Facebook can raise your self esteem, it also demonstrated that overall, a significant negative relationship between Facebook and self-esteem was uncovered (as Facebook interaction increased, self-esteem decreased).

So knowing that and knowing what I know now about Facebook, I am questioning when to get my kids involved in the social networking world, particularly Facebook.

Here is what  I deal with as an adult and what these teenagers are dealing with every time they go on Facebook.

1.  Everybody's life looks better than mine.

Anyone else with me on that one?

Oh, I know that people usually post the good, the cute, and the funny.  I do the same thing.  I most definitely did post the time my kids all wrote me beautiful "I miss you" letters, but I sure didn't advertise the time my son called me the White Witch from Narnia!

But, it is hard to constantly say, "Oh, they are only posting the good things...I have good things too."

Back when I was in high school, I would hear about the parties that went on during the weekend.  And occasionally I was even invited to a few.  But the ones that I was not invited to, I would just hear about.  I did not have to see actual pictures of all the people that were there.  I did not have to see private conversations going back and forth with private jokes that I was not privy to.  I just think that would be even harder for a junior high or high school student who is going through the stages of truly finding  his or her identity in Jesus and realizing who he or she really is.

Even now, one day on Facebook, I saw one of my old boyfriend's family pictures to Paris.  Seriously?!  Paris?! That is like a scene from a 30 Rock episode with me being Tina Fey!  I did not start wishing I was married to him, I did not want to rewrite my life.  I love my husband, but I did think it would have been fun to go to Paris! And to answer your question, I am NOT his friend on Facebook, but a friend of his wife's friend.  Oh, the webs we weave...

But it just makes a point in my mind, can younger people handle that kind of opportunity to compare at every post or should they have to at that age?  Is ignorance really bliss?
 I want them to stay connected and know when everyone is meeting at Red Robin after youth group, but I don't think they need even more of an influx of temptation to covet and more mind clutter in their lives.

It is like the time that my daughter and I went to a conference about purity and modesty and the speaker said, "Think of one thing you do not like about yourself."

My Sweet girl leaned over to me and whispered, "I can't really think of anything so I guess I will just pick something." And then she proceeded to start to not like that aspect of herself.  How backward is that?  But I feel like Facebook can be sometimes like that.  Young children are being exposed to more than their little minds or hearts are yet ready to truly come to terms with.  Too often kids can use harsh words without the accountability of seeing the hurt in someone's eyes. "Just kidding" can be used way too much. 

Now, I do have to put in here the amazing way that God turns things around in everything...like when people reach out on Facebook and ask for prayers and the hands and feet of Jesus show up to surround people with prayers and love and support...it doesn't get any better.  Praise God for that.

2. It can tend to take time away from Jesus.

I know there are some people who can just take or leave Facebook and I actually do not have a huge problem checking it all of the time (which is why when I get hacked, I do not know about it until someone mentions it), but when I do check it...

I don't know if it is the writer in me or the fact that I just love to connect with people, but I want to comment on things I read and I edit and revise and think about how to say things and write and rewrite again, so that a quick check of Facebook has now turned into two hours!

I cannot be the only one that looks at a few pictures and then suddenly finds themselves looking through 536 pictures of the most beautiful wedding photos just because you knew one of the guests attending.  That's right...did not even know the bride or groom!  Oh, but their favors were these sea shell things and they had these cute chalkboard signs that pointed to the games...just lovely!

Yes, lovely, but oh to have those two hours back and spend them with my Jesus!

3.  It puts focus on self whether or not you try...

Like I said, I do like it when a photo gets a cute comment.  I actually feel good for my children.  How crazy is that?  Like I am putting some kind of value for them, not even on them, but for them because someone noticed the photos.  Of course if they do not get any comments, I will just assume the post got buried.  I do tend to post late at night...

And of course you tend to post the good things.  Or at least I do. Most do, except some real folks who make us laugh with their postings of late night science fair finishes or the dear hearts that are vulnerable asking for prayer and for those moments, we are touched by humanity and it is good.

But how do I not post those Kale chips I made without thinking about myself?  But, really, how could I not?  I. made. kale. chips.  Enough said.

Okay, you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater and I think Facebook is here to stay.  Of course the only way I know that Facebook actually has people working there is the fact that our old neighbor's son works there.  You don't even want to know how cush those employees have it!  But you certainly would not know it from trying to reach them! I have yet to find out a way to talk to someone there...

But I never really set off to say I did not like Facebook.  I really do.  I think it has connected me to people in ways that I never would and most of the above concerns about Facebook are really concerns that I need to deal in with myself.

If I am spending too much time on it, I need to turn it off.  If it takes time away from Jesus, I need to schedule time with Him.  If I spend more time with Jesus, I will realize that I am His daughter and I do not have to worry about trips to Paris.  And I can get back to focusing on what is important...Jesus.

Now, my question is for those who went before me...when did you let your children start using Facebook and would you do the same thing again?  Was it an age thing or a maturity thing?

Thanks for your honesty and if you got here through Facebook...SO Cool, huh?!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No Perfect Marriages

Okay, complete transparency here:

I sometimes love my children more than my husband.

I know....it's not right.  He is supposed to come first.  And God is supposed to come even before Him, but sometimes I am just a little off the mark and I end up trying to please them over him.

And even more off the mark, I try to please EVERYBODY else over God.

It is in subtle choices:

*  I spend a half an hour getting ready to go out for the day and I only spent ten minutes reading the Bible, if at all, that morning.

*  I have a problem about something and I call my sister, mom, girlfriend, and then my husband...and then if nothing works, I pray about it.

Seriously?  I have the Creator of the universe desiring to spend time with me, wanting to share the wisdom of the ages, all knowing and all powerful and I pick calling a human?

Sheesh...if only that realization would hit me at the moment that the problem comes.

And in that moment, I can let the power of God give me love, desire, and wisdom to put my husband before my children in beautiful ways.  Not ways that make my children feel less, but ways that make them feel secure.

Growing up I saw a note card hanging in my parents' bathroom.  They still have it today.  It reads:

One of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

and the same goes for me:

One of the best things I can do for my kids is to love my husband.

We cannot be perfect moms, and we cannot be perfect wives, and we were born sinful, so perfect people is out at birth!

But we can try to rememeber that we serve a perfect God.  That He created us to love Him and to glorify Him in all we do.

So even if we mess up, He is there to help us pick up the pieces and put Him back in first place.

And you know what?  When I do, on some days, get it right and put Him first, all the other stuff seems to fall into place.  Oh, it is not always perfect, but I am more ready for it.  I am more patient, I have His wisdom in my heart for the day, and I have the security in knowing that there are no perfect moms, no perfect marriages, but we love a perfect God!

What is a way that you make your man feel special?

Today, I am linking with Jill Savage's blog!  So thrilled to learn from her wisdom!

Please check out some other perfect grateful moms here!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What is Your Story of His?

My friend was studying to be a nurse. She kept reminding me that she will actually be an ultrasound technician.  Oh, I think that would be so hard.  I mean it would certainly be fun when the young mommy came in with a super healthy baby in her tummy.  But when the woman with the baby that has a low heart beat comes for a routine check.  That was me.  I was that woman.  Laying on the table. I don’t think I could be the one to have to tell a woman, “You will have to wait until the doctor comes to see you.”

“Why can’t I see the screen?  Can you not just tell me if my baby is okay?” I cried out to the nurse.   
“You will have to wait until the doctor comes to see you.”
And then she left.  She left.  I am alone. My mother is not with me.  She didn’t even know I was pregnant.  It is not what you think.  I am not unwed.  I am not scared what she will say.  The truth is I really wanted to tell my parents at Christmas time with a little ornament that shared our excitement of our third child .  What a wonderful way to capture the dreams for tomorrow along with the scent of warm, syrup covered  waffles made by my Daddy and the traditional loud playing of Pretty Woman from an under the counter CD payer in the kitchen. My husband is not with me.  It was a routine check up.  Why should he take off of work for this?
I wait laying on the table covered by a tissue paper concealing my body.  Parts that are meant for beauty and wonder, but parts that can bring pain. But a pain that you want to feel, for that means life is coming.  But what if that life does not come?

Dear God, are you here?

You say there are no mistakes.  You have a perfect plan.  It is sometimes hard to see where a stillborn child fits into a perfect plan.  I know that was never the original intention.  Adam and his stupid sin.  Eve and her stupid apple.  The sin that everybody is born with.  There is no perfect child.  No perfect mother.  We are all stuck in the midst of the yuck and desire for worldly things at every turn.  Only you can save us.  Dear God, will you save my baby?

“He is really small,” my doctor said.  He has been with me through my first two.  I trusted him with my life, my children’s lives.  He was well educated with a great bedside manner.  The kind of doctor that looks deep into your eyes and you just.feel.safe.  Also, two legs in a stirrup brings a little bit of transparency and trust into any situation.
“Go home. Rest.  Come back in two weeks and we will see what…see if…we will check you out then.”

So, at that moment, I gave up control.  I gave up my will, for only His would win out.  And we prayed.  We prayed for a miracle. Our two little ones at home prayed, not knowing why Mommy sometimes cried when they prayed that "Baby would be born healthy."
And we prayed some more.
And in God's gracious overflow of undeserving blessing, our little baby, Baby BugBoy, had a strong heartbeat two weeks later.  He would make it.


And he did!  He is a bright eyed, bug whispering, hilarious little boy.  But looking back, I can see now how I only gave up when I had no other choice.  There was nothing more I could do.
But God gave when he had a choice.  Not gave up. . . gave. Jesus allowed himself to be beaten, spit at, whipped, when at any given moment, he could have broken through the chains, the shouts of hate, and the pain.  
At any given moment, He could have called down legions of angels to take out the soldiers, the crowd, the demons. 
But He gave up his spirit for us.  
And His love poured out to us on that cross.
And His victory was felt on that third day when he rose again.
For then, the heartbeat was heard again.

What are you willing to give up for Jesus during this season of Lent?  Giving up pop seems small compared to the sacrifice He made.  But if giving up pop makes me stop and think about Him and His sacrifice every time I crave a caffeine high from my daily Pepsi, then pop it is.  And that will be a wonderful gift to give to my Jesus. For each time, I will praise Him, thank Him, and be reminded once again of His wonderful story of love for me.

What is your story?  Please share or connect to other stories of grace at:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

His Love Never Fails

I looked around and saw many macadamia trees hitting the horizon.  I was tired, sweaty, and sick of grafting healthy shoots to each tree in order to produce a more abundant crop.  I wanted to do something more important.  Something that would make a bigger difference to the kingdom of God than just allowing a few more nuts to be produced.

That night,  27 children came in to sing at our chapel at the orphanage where we were staying.  They sang in pure sweet voices about a God that loves them no matter what.  They praised the Holy Father that cares for them, lifting their sweet faces to a Savior. 

They sang of a love from far above this world:

You, Lord, will always
treat me with kindness.
    Your love never fails.
You have made us what we are.
    Don’t give up on us now!

Psalm 138:8

And then the pastor came up after and told about how each nut that they can sell brings money into help these children. Each. single. nut.

The money helps buy food, clothes, bedding.  I think of the multiple sets of sheets that I have at home, and I die a bit inside.  I die to myself and I start over with Christ.

I want to continue to make a difference.  In the lives of these orphans, in the lives of everyone who I come into contact with.  In the life that God has given me.

The next morning, I look at all of those macadamia nut trees

and smile.


That was many years ago, a moment in time where I chose to put Him first.  And I try to do that daily.  I mess up daily.  I tend to really like myself and want to make myself happy, but once in a while, God's Spirit will touch me and He will move.  I chose to become a Compassion Blogger because of this touch. I chose to teach Sunday School because of this touch.  I choose to write because of this touch.

I know that His love never fails. Whether it is a love for me, the children, or a simple tree.

His love never fails.

Do you have any verses that have transformed you that you might share with us?
  I would love to hear about them...

Link up and share with others.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why You Should Frown Sometimes...

 I cried with my friend today.  And I cried to a friend today. 

Both cries were needed...and felt deep in the places that you do not often want to go. 

The one I cried with shared about a hardship that her son was going through, but that he was becoming stronger because of it and that through it all, God was becoming more real to him. But the heartache and pain is something that a parent never wants their child to have to go through, but it is inevitable in this fallen world.

The one I cried to was from a simple phone call that said she was gong to bring me dinner.  She noticed my tired eyes the day before and my lack of a true smile.  She said the Lord just impressed upon her that I might need a little encouraging.  I lost it...not because I couldn't make my own dinner, but because she heard the whisper of Jesus, telling her to go.

There is a book I own, read, reread, highlighted, bent pages, broken spine...and I absolutely love the author, Karol Ladd.  The book is called The Power of a Positive Mom.  It has many amazing quotes to truly live by.  

But there is one that I absolutely do not agree with:

Learn to greet your friends with a smile; they carry too many frowns in their own hearts to be bothered with yours. - Mary Allete Ayer

I found out today how sometimes your friends need to see you cry or they need to hear the quiver in your voice because that shows them that you are real.  That you feel deep in your heart for your children, for your marriage, for a parent in need.  And it shows that you feel deep for them.

And our children need to see the deep parts of our sorrow, for then they can appreciate the great joys of complete trust and joy in God.  They need to see us struggle so they know it is okay for them to struggle.

Our kids need to see us frown.  And to cry.  Because then they see that we need God.  And they can see that in His love, we can find our love, our smile, our hope found in him.

And yet, our children need to see us smile...for we have that hope.  

The earlier they embrace that hope, that knowledge of God's unfailing love, the greater the capacity for trust will be: 

  For you, O Lord, are my hope, 
my trust, O LORD, from my youth  
Psalm 71:5

photo credit: apysworld.blogspot.com 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's Your Passion?

     About ten years ago, my husband asked me what my passion was?  What am I crazy about?  At that time, I was a mom of just two little ones and I loved being with them and loved writing.  I wanted to write a book, but after trying a little bit to blog, making some time for writing, and sending in a few Children's book ideas to publishers, I found that I was not really into it.  I actually wrote a paragraph about what my passion was.  In about five minutes.  I wrote about writing, but I was not actually making time in my schedule to write. 

     After years of not making writing a priority,  I thought I forgot my passion, but as I am reflecting more and more these days on clutter free living, I am seeing that, back then, writing was not my passion.  My kids were my passion.  My Jesus was my passion.  Even my house and actual homemade meals were my passion. 

As I heard one speaker say, "If you can stop writing, you were not meant to do it."  And I agree.  For at that time in my life, I was not meant to do it.  And I can second guess every choice I made and get discouraged that I did not keep up with my blogging, get mad that I did not send out a book proposal before having a huge platform was one thing that publishers look for, and kick myself in the pants for picking the absolute longest blog title that I could have picked at a time when there were A LOT of ones that I could have gotten...


 I can see that God used me right where I was...

With my little ones, serving in church, being fully available to my husband, living out life the way he wanted then. Spending my MOMents exactly where he wanted me.


I can see that what is your passion, you will make time for.  You won't be able to help it.   So now, when you see a twitter at 1:30 am of a cool Bible verse that I read or a blog post that made me smile, you will know why.

Because I can't stop writing now, and I can't stop reading the Bible to get more of clutter free Truth!  Just the basics. The truth of saving grace and grace filled living.

And even though, I sometimes hear, "Are you going to be writing today?" from my kids, now I do not feel guilty, because I know Who I am writing for this time.  I am not out to write a book. I already did that. I am out to bless Him and others around me.  Writing is my passion, but just one of them.  Knowing God deep in my soul is my passion.  And my words are for His glory and my growth.  And I am trying to be intentional about my time I spend with my kids so that they do not resent the writing.  They know they will get an EPIC game of Big Deal after lunch!

So, what do you spend your time on?  What is your passion?  What is your dream? And what will you do to keep following that dream? 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Breathing and Merry-Go Rounds

“Once the feet are put right, all the rest of him will follow," Aslan says in the book The Lion, The With, and The Wardrobe.  Although he is talking about the statues, I feel as if the words are penetrating my heart.  Not in a bad way like a stabbing pain, but in a way of a lost moment.  Kind of like when you are at the carnival and you almost get to go on the ride, but you got the gate closed right before you got to go. Now you have to wait for the next ride.

You know your turn will come, but you have to be patient and watch other people on the ride right now.  The others ones who are living out their dream, laughing, and experiencing what they have been waiting for.

For the statues, the warmth of Aslan's breath changed them from stone to flesh.  Once the feet were touched with a whisper of his heat, the rest of the body became real.

Oh God, how many days go by without my feet being right?  How many days do I start off without one purpose besides just surviving?  I know deep in my soul that it is not enough to just survive.  That is not what God is calling us to do.  He is calling us to make more with what we have.

A wise and wonderful friend summed it up perfectly in this:

"Do the best that you can with the time and resources you have and then be happy with that."

So instead of being scared that I never will "be enough," I am choosing to change that scared feeling into sacred living because those two words are starting to fit together in my heart.  Hmm..isn't it funny how similar scared and sacred look?

I am going to the best with what I have, and know that my life and time is a sacred calling.

 I will try not to longingly look at those on the merry go round when it is is not my turn because those are not my smiles.  That is not what God has in store for me.

And you know if I did try to get on it, squeezing all of my kids and husband into one of those never quite stable looking contraptions built for two, it would be the one time where the ride gets locked up and I can't get off for over two hours while all the people in line are eating my waffle cake!

So let my feet move for my children, let my love move for my husband, let my life move for Him, let my words move for you...

Please God,start breathing on me....