Media: a balanced diet or an all you can eat buffet?


This is a copy of the workshop I taught at a women’s event at our church this past spring based on a book written by Jen Hatmaker called: Seven: An Experiental Mutiny Against Excess
I have been married to Joe for almost 19years and in three days our twins will be 14 years old, a girl and a boy, and we homeschool them. I started looking at the Seven Experiment when Linda invited me to be a part of this team. As I started looking at it I thought, “This is so legalistic it’s not even funny!” But as I started reading more and really getting into it, it is NOT legalistic at all. It truly is another way to honor and glorify our Heavenly Father and love our sisters and brothers in Christ. When we confront our own materialism we allow more time to give to others and find out that a simple life really is liberating. So I decided to give this Seven Experiment a try and really practice intentional restraint and allow God to AWAKEN a new perspective within me. 

So, welcome to the workshop: MEDIA: a balanced diet or an all you can eat buffet.

Scripture verses: I would like to start out looking at some scriptures for us to think about as we talk about media excess.

Jesus praying for us: John 17:15-18 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world but to protect them from the evil one. They don’t belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. “Use the truth to make them holy. Your words are truth. I have sent them into the world the same way you sent me into the world. I’m dedicating myself to this holy work I’m doing for them so that they, too, will use the truth to be holy. 

Matthew 6:21 Your heart will be where your treasure is.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person. 
In other words, just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

I am prone to pride and idolatry therefore, I need to see Him and be willing to lay down my pride and idols and be willing to do His will and not my own. It is so easy to let all the different types of media become idols in our lives. We let our phones, computers, televisions, music, and calendars rule us and eventually we can become slaves to them. I believe there is good in media and really what it comes down to is obedience and discipline. Just like the verses in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 say: Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. 

Remember, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We don’t have to participate in everything the world sends our way. We must be careful not to become absorbed into the world and the temptations of it. John 17 tells us that we were made to be holy just as Jesus was made to be holy. When it comes right down to it, what we allow into our minds, ears and eyes eventually makes its way into our hearts and Matthew 12:34 tells us: For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Why do we find ourselves grabbing our phones, iPad, or other devices? I know that when I sit down to watch television I also want to have the iPad or my phone to play a game or scroll through the news as I am watching a show. I didn’t realize how addicted I was! So I made a choice to pray when I feel this happening and give those feelings to God and allow Him to satisfy me so I can make better choices. For Him to give me a better perspective and wisdom about my media choices. I’m not always successful at accomplishing this but I am trying to be more disciplined with it. 

Did you know that there have been studies done on what happens to our brains, and our thought patterns when we are so consumed with multitasking every minute of our lives. “Scientists say juggling email, phone calls, and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. . .

The stimulation provokes excitement-which is a dopamine squirt-that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored. The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cell phone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. . . And for millions of people… these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.

Even after this multitasking ends, fractured thinking persists; because evidently this is also your brain off computers. Researchers at Stanford found that media multitaskers seem more sensitive to incoming information than nonmultitaskers, and that is not necessarily good: A portion of the brain acts as a control tower, helping a person focus and set priorities. More primitive parts of the brain, like those that process sight and sound demand that it pay attention to new information, bombarding the control tower when. . .stimulated.

Researchers say there is an evolutionary rationale for the pressure this barrage puts on the brain. The lower-brain functions alert humans to danger, like a nearby lion, overriding goals like building a hut. In the modern world, the chine of incoming email can override the goal of writing a business plan or playing catch with the kids.

How much time do you spend absorbing biblical truth compared to absorbing media?

So let’s have a look at how media can distort what God’s word says. Now, considering mainstream media ideologies, how would you generally describe the message that media, not just social media but ALL media, including advertising, convey’s for each of the following?

  • MONEY: the more the better – love it – more, more, more – keep all you can
  • SEX: the more the better – love it – it’s for everyone – more, more, more
  • POWER: the more the better
  • VIOLENCE: it’s okay – it’s acceptable in certain circumstances – the more, the better
  • BODY IMAGE: the less the better – smaller is better 
  • LIFE PURPOSE: to make everyone think your life is better than theirs – if it feels good, do it as long as you aren’t hurting others.
  • FAITH: funny how this is the last one on the list because it’s often last in people’s lives – keep it to yourself.

These are the messages that the world is telling us through our media. Are we willing to bring these messages into our homes? 

Now let’s have a look at what God’s word says and how the truth Christ calls us to live out is the complete opposite of what mainstream tells us:

  • MONEY: is not to be loved – give it away – 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
  • SEX: is part of a holy covenant between a husband (man) and wife (woman)
  • POWER: Jesus is the true power: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13
  • VIOLENCE: Love others – 1 John 4:19 says We love because God loved us first. – turn the other cheek and don’t be a doormat.
  • BODY IMAGE: Modesty is the best policy – our bodies are God’s temple – 1 Timothy 2:19a I want women to show their beauty by dressing in appropriate clothes that are modest and respectable.
  • LIFE PURPOSE: Live completely surrendered in obedience to Jesus – Glorify God – love others as yourself – serve others before yourself.
  • FAITH: 2 Corinthians 5:7 says: For we live by faith, not by sight.

So, the funny thing is that I work in media! I’m the Computer Graphics Director at Mountaintop Community Church. So, I actually love using media! I love allowing God to use the media in my life and my families life for good. BUT media can totally capture our thoughts, our minds, and eventually our hearts. We need to be concerned with how casually media portrays wealth, top priorities of self-indulgence and gratification – the toxic depiction of marriage, the definition of success and the “American Dream”, the endless enticements to want more, buy more, have more are all trying to make us see that all these things are “normal.” When surveyors look at the results of surveys conducted, if 51% of those surveyed say they do it, it becomes the new “normal.” Like divorce, having an affair, same sex marriage, watching porn, and soon it will be human and sex trafficking! These things should NOT be normal at all, not according to God’s word. If we buy into all that media says is normal, it renders the bible obsolete. So, just because we see people in movies and on t.v. having affairs doesn’t mean we are going to have one, just because we hear racial slurs and vulgar language in music lyrics and on t.v. doesn’t mean we are going to turn into bigots. But remember, what goes in eventually comes out. We go back to the scripture that says: just because it’s available doesn’t mean it’s permissible.

 Jen Hatmaker said: “May we be only under the control of Jesus who fills our minds with hope, and truth and grace unending.” 
There are many ways to use media for good things. The screens at church, live streaming for those who can’t come in person, the school curriculum. I’m not going to list all the wonderful ways media can be used because truly there are THAT many! There are also many helpful things about social media like spreading the word quickly about a missing child, a prayer need, staying in touch with far away loved ones, and many other examples that I won’t list. But for those of us that struggle with it we have to be very careful and very disciplined to not let it become an idol and take over our lives.

How much time are we allowing these messages to come into our homes instead of God’s message in our home? Have you ever asked God to reveal to you your blind spots in the area of media? Remember when you ask HIM to reveal these areas to you that HE convicts every person in a different way. What is a problem or an idol for you may not be for someone else. It’s all about less of what we want and more about what HE wants.

Ask HIM for eyes to see and ears to hear. And to make pleasing HIM more important than pleasing yourself.

As I started praying about the excess media in my life I kept thinking to myself: The Creator of the universe wants an intimate relationship with me and I want one with Him. I want to go deeper and just be immersed in Him. I live in a country where I can freely worship Him at any time day or night and anywhere. Why don’t I choose to spend more time at His feet being “Mary?” Instead, I tend to busy myself, like “Martha,” with unnecessary things. 

Since starting the Experiment, we now try to have two nights a week that are family nights. One night is “reading” night/game night and we read for a couple of hours, or play some board games. We aren’t perfect at this and some weeks our schedules sometimes don’t allow these nights to happen but it is our goal and we try really hard to have them. And we sometimes every work on a bible study together. 

We only have one TV in our house which allows for lots of family time. We DVR everything we watch on cable because not only is it a time saver but I really don’t want any of us to see the awful advertising/commercials that are allowed these days. I don’t think I need to explain any of those. We also watch a lot of Netflix which is commercial free! We have dinner just about every single night around the table as a family and that is a screen free zone. No phones at the table. This part isn’t always perfect but we try! I also have more time to study the word or meet friends for coffee or lunch.

My awakening came when I realized I was spending way too much time on FB and how many conversations started out with: “Did you see on FB?” Or “I posted it on FB, didn’t you see it?” It was becoming one of the only ways I communicated with some people, even some family members. It was also a huge time killer for me. Anytime I would sit down and find myself bored, I would open FB and scroll through my newsfeed. I was allowing it to change the way I would think about people because of a post or a comment they made and I was even allowing what others posted to hurt me (mainly family). It was truly not a healthy thing for me to be involved with. I would hear God telling me I should stay away from FB but I would then try to justify my staying on FB by telling Him that I was only spreading His word and not anything negative or derogatory and I was able to stay in touch with old friends and far away family. But still I heard Him tell me to get off. I did not, that is not until I heard Mari Beth do a teaching on living differently. During that teaching I heard God so clearly telling me to get off FB and that He called me to live differently, that the world was on FB and I was not to be like the world. (Remember He convicts & speaks to each of us differently and what HE convicts me of HE may not convict you of.) I still tried to justify being on there again with Him and still the answer was to get off. Then He told me that I could make a bigger impact on His kingdom face to face and voice to voice rather than post to post. I went home and deleted my account. Now, I did stay on Instagram because my kids are on there and to keep them accountable and safe, I follow who they follow. 
(Side note: I got back on FB to be a part of a book launch group, after being off for over a year. I have a much healthier attitude about it now.)

Which leads me to my next point. . .

What do your social media apps look like and what do your kids social media apps look like? Who do you/they follow? What comments are you/they seeing on their newsfeed? YES, I have asked my daughter to stop following someone because of comments on their posts. Have you warned your kids about trafficking and how traffickers stalk the locations posted on our posts? You can choose not to “check in” on FB and you can choose not to post the location where you are posting the picture from. 

What security/protection devices, apps have you put into place for the safety of your kids and for yourself?  

Did you know that there are “restriction” settings on iPhones that you can set for your kids? You get to choose the password and they can’t access that area on their phone unless you give them the password. We gave our 14 yo twins their first phones about a month ago and we went in and set what they are able to control and not control on their phones. They can’t even add or delete an app without the password. Their phones are connected to my Apple ID and they don’t have my password for that either.

There’s also a wonderful new device (filter) out there called Circle with Disney. It’s a small white cube that pairs with your router and allows you to control ANY device that runs through your wifi. You can control this through a free password protected app on your phone or tablet. You can be home or away from home to make changes. That also includes apps, websites, phones, kindles, computers, etc. It even has a pause button so you can pause the Internet either per device or for the entire house. You can see “live” what websites they are on and you can block any that you don’t want them going to. It also allows you to set time limits and bedtimes. When your child tells you that they feel violated because of this device, that’s a good thing! The best news is that it’s only $99 with no subscription fees! 

In closing, media is so much more than a screen. It’s music, magazines, ads, etc. . . We need to pay attention to the things we are allowing in, they will eventually work their way into our hearts and back out of our mouths. I would love to share with you with a couple of quotes and a couple of verses. These quotes are about advertising, and you might ask what does advertising have to do with media? Don’t miss this point, all the free media and even some of the “paid for” media we consume, is paid for by advertising dollars. So when we consume media we consume advertising as well. 

Malcolm Muggeridge said: “History will see advertising as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that.”
Eugene H. Peterson said: “American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we’ve ever had because it is so materialistic and it’s so full of lies. The whole advertising world is just, it’s just intertwined with lies, appealing to the worst of the instincts we have.”

2 Timothy 1:7 says: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.

And finally, let me leave you with some words that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8-9: Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me -do it- and the God of peace will walk with you. 

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Invisible

imageInvisible

Do you ever feel invisible?
Do you find yourself getting your feelings hurt?
When you are asked to do something are you “all in” and then expect others to be “all in” too?

Right now I feel invisible. My feelings are hurt. I am always “all in” because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right? Therefore, I expect that from others too. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. How do we learn not to expect “all in” from others?
How do we protect our hearts and our feelings?

I am not invisible. God sees me. God knows my heart. Getting my feelings hurt is not a surprise to God. But how does knowing that God sees me and is not surprised by these things help me to not feel invisible?

It is my flesh, my human nature that makes me feel this way, but Jesus said:

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 (MSG)

So, I need to trust that:
HE sees me!
HE chose me!
HE loves me!
I am NOT invisible!
I am HIS beloved!

The Lord is fighting for you! So be still!” Exodus 14:14

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that HE fights for me and I just need to be still and trust HIM, keeping my hands open and ready to receive the next thing HE has for me. Life is sometimes hard. Life is sometimes joy. Life IS texture, which makes us all HIS beautiful masterpiece.

When I am feeling invisible I am focusing on myself. I make myself a victim of my own behavior, I am being selfish. Instead, I need to be still, calm my heart and ask HIM two questions:

What are you teaching me through this moment, this situation?
How can I glorify you through it?

Then keep my heart and my hands open ready to receive what HE says and trust that I am NOT invisible!

Restoration Road

What do you do when the people you deeply love continuously hurt you over and over again? I can only imagine what God must feel like when we make bad choices and move away from Him. This pain is deep. This pain is wide. This pain is leaving gaping wounds on my heart and in my soul. 

The road to restoration is a 2-way street but what do you do when you are the only one on it? Turn around and give up? Do you think that’s what God would want us to do? Maybe just park right where I am and wait? For how long? I know that’s what I need to do, pull over and park but it doesn’t make the pain go away or even lessen. 

I have been studying the beatitudes and they are coming to mind as I write this. How can I apply what I am learning from them to this part of my journey?

Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they WILL see God.

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

I can boldly come before the throne of God and seek HIS mercy and grace. But if we don’t show mercy we receive judgement. If we don’t see God, we are not in heaven. If we aren’t called the sons of God we are outside the family.

John 10:10 says:

The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance. 

When you are the only one on “Restoration Road,” I believe that’s exactly what the devil wants. He wants to discourage us to turn around and give up. He wants to destroy completely the relationships you so desperately want to heal. He doesn’t want you to park and wait. He wants you to turn around and give up.

BUT. . .

James 4:7 tells us:

So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 

When we place ourselves under the authority of God, HE will give us the strength to resist the devil. HE will give us the endurance to stay parked, waiting for the opportunity to move further down the road, closer to restoration and the abundant life that Jesus promises!

 

Dallas Mission Trip Prayer

Please join me in praying for our students and their leaders as they head to Dallas, TX to serve others this week. This prayer is a great way to pray scriptures over them and for them:

Father, I plead that our missions team will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will daily walk in His power (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16).

I pray that our missions team will speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31; Ephesians 6:19).

I ask that our missions team will present the gospel clearly to unbelievers (Colossians 4:4).

Lord, I pray that our missions team would be accepted by the natives, the believers. and the missionaries in the area where they are laboring (Romans 15:30-31).

God, I plead that You will protect our missions team from the attacks of Satan and his demons (Romans 15:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 3:2-3).

Father, I ask that You would open doors and hearts to receive the gospel as our missions team ministers in their place of service (Colossians 4:3).

I pray that You will make our missions team ’s ministry exceedingly fruitful and that You will glorify Yourself through this ministry (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

Father, I plead that You will deliver our missions team from loneliness and frustration (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 18:9-10; Hebrews 13:5).

Lord, I pray that You will create in our missions team a servant’s heart (Philippians 2:5-10).

I ask that our missions team will live and labor each day for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Father, I plead that our missions team will be a vessel through which the love of God can flow to others (Romans 5:5; John 13:34-35).

Please grant our missions team Your specific direction for his/her ministry (Psalm 37:5).

I ask that our missions team will have a growing and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:4-5).

I pray that our missions team will have a deeper and clearer understanding of the Word of God (John 16:13).

Father, I plead that You will continually protect our missions team from all harm and ask that You would strengthen our missions team physically (Genesis 2:7).

I ask that You would grant our missions team peace and assurance about the care of their family members that are left at home (1 Peter 5:7).

Fill our missions team with Your joy in all situations and let this joy sustain our missions team in all situations (Nehemiah 8:10).

Father, I pray that our missions team would see people and things from Your perspective (Proverbs 3:5).

Lord, I ask that You would bless and strengthen our missions team ’s family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4).

I plead that our missions team will have a renewed and growing zeal to share the gospel with unbelievers (Romans 1:15-16).

I ask that our missions team will be completely yielded to Christ and willing to die to self in all matters (Mark 8:34-35).

I pray that our missions team will be growing in humility (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Father, I plead that our missions team will endure persecution in a Christlike manner. (1 Peter 2:21-23).

I ask You to create a thankful heart in our missions team especially in times of difficulty (Ephesians 5:20).

I pray that You will raise up prayer partners for our missions team (1 Thessalonians 5:24). I plead that all of our missions team ’s needs–physical, spiritual, emotional, and spiritual–will be met by You through Your grace and power (Philippians 4:19).

I ask that our missions team will labor from godly motives and not from a desire to please people (2 Corinthians 4:2).

I plead, O God, that you would raise up strong believers around our missions team who will encourage them in the tasks that God has given to them (Philemon 20).

I pray that our missions team would long to be holy and live a life of obedience to the Word of God (1 Peter 1:15-16).

I plead that our missions team would be salt and light to the people to which they have been sent (Matthew 5:13-14). Father, I pray that You would enable our missions team to pray for those who persecute them and for those who spitefully use them (Matthew 5:44).

I pray that our missions team would not lag in diligence but would be fervent in spirit. I plead that our missions team will rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and continue steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:11-12).

I ask that our missions team would not lose their focus in ministry but that they would have their priorities ordered by You.

I pray that our missions team will set their mind on things above and not on the things of the earth (Colossians 3:2-3).

I plead that our missions team will be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that their labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN!

Christ Follower

I am a Christ follower. But what does that mean? For me it is simply; Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior who I have an intimate relationship with and I know that Christ is all I need. The question is, how does one come to truly know Christ and have an intimate relationship with Him? For me this question is tied to why there is evil in the world, why terrible things happen, why do we have tribulation in our lives. In order for me to know that Christ was all I needed, I first had to come to a place where Christ was all I had.

​For some this is called rock bottom, for some it’s when they have nowhere left to turn in a crisis, for others it is a traumatic event or situation thrust upon them. Whatever the cause or situation most of us reach a moment in our lives when there seems that nothing can help, we can’t find anything or anyone to fill the emptiness we feel, or there is no relief or end in sight to the pain we are experiencing. I believe God does not remove us from these situations because they are opportunities for us to look to God and call on Him and ask Him to save us. But some of us miss these opportunities because we are self-reliant; we tell ourselves that we can make it through these tough times on our own. And the world would agree with you.

​There is a Chinese maxim: “Eating Bitterness”, known as Chi Ku. It is a Chinese phrase for enduring hardship. You may have heard some english equivalents “Grin and Bear It.”, “Keep on Truckin”, “Hang In There”, “Suck It Up”, all to mean to endure something unpleasant in good humor. Or to continue despite the difficulties, stay focused and don’t complain and have a good attitude.

Some quotes to the same effect are:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~Winston Churchill.
“We acquire the strength we have overcome.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” ~Jewish Proverb.
“There is no success without hardship.” ~Sophocles.

Most sayings will echo some truth like: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Personally I like this quote very much, but as a Christ follower I would say: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in your faith and hold on because it is not your strength that allows you to hang on but the strength you receive from your Father in heaven, this is His promise to you and His promises cannot be broken!”

Isaiah 41:10 says: fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:13 says: I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.

Sooner or later, for most of us our strength fails us, we are unable to hold on by ourselves and this is the opportunity to turn to God and ask Him to save us because we finally learn that we can’t do it on our own, and we were never meant to.

When we are able to stop being prideful and selfish, we can surrender to God, we can start having a relationship with Christ, but this is just the first step, an intimate relationship is a daily process of giving and receiving, of being pruned into the image of Christ Himself.

John 15:2 says: He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

The good things in life are not, health and happiness but Holiness.
Not the riches of this world, but relationship with God.
Not our plans but His Presence.
And He withholds no good thing from us because good things aren’t ever things.

DO YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN?

I find it curious that I have not yet learned to tread lightly (excluding the big stick of course) but my usual modus operandi is a “Bull in a China shop.” I speed up faster than others can keep up, pounding the feet ever harder. Occasionally I may even notice the minutes pounding by harder as well but, I don’t believe I pay them any mind. When I look back I think I can say, with confidence that the hurry more, often hurts than helps. It may even have a way of emptying our soul. It’s like running a race against time, but you snag yourself on time and you end up leaking yourself empty. You might even say that hurry and impatience is a sure sign of one who has a lot of maturing to do and I extend this to not only in doing but in Faith, Prayer and in all that we are.

We live in a consumer society, so quicker is better, faster is always preferred and more now is what the world tells us we should want. We even view our faith the same way, God I need patience but give it to me now. Think of all the missed moments that lay in our wake because we were too busy hurrying along. We didn’t miss them, we threw them away with our choice to be moving at such high velocities so we could get to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of us.

I recall a conversation I had with my grandmother. She said she isn’t doing too many things these days since she is slow to get around and doesn’t want to be an annoyance. That is a lie the world tells us and we believe it. In this example all we have to do is look to our movies and TV shows, they joke about putting the elderly into homes because that is what is best for them. Is it really or is it better for us? Now I am not talking about putting our parents and grandparents in a home, that’s not the point here. The way the world might have us see it, the elderly have committed two offenses just by existing. One is a lack of velocity, they drive too slowly, they walk too slowly, and they talk too slowly. We can abide so many other maladies and atrocities but being slowed down isn’t one of them. The other is an age old issue, the elderly are our memento mori and we can only be comfortable if they are out of sight which helps our denial.

When middle age has left us, does the accumulation of physical ailments leave us condemned to the ranks of the undead? We treat slowness like a disease of the undead. Anyway isn’t it about belief and attitude and not years, the proffers of salvation know no age. There is many a person that is youthful hurrying about in their lives who can be called undead, their inner putrification hidden for a few decades at least, unless they change their beliefs and attitude.

So the question that I am left with is: how do I change this? Is it possible that living in Christ, the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence? And that living in Christ we are not running out of time but we are standing on the brink of eternity? If the purpose of a Christian is to know God and to praise Him, then wouldn’t it stand to say that relationship is the most important thing (Matthew 7:22-23), of course it is, we know this! Relationship takes time, it is a slow process, a process that is stunted and even stopped when we run about in a hurry from thing to thing and person to person. It’s time to take a deep breath, slow down, give God the glory, sing His praises, live life purposefully, savoring every moment, living fully in what we are doing right now with gratitude and giving thanks for what God has done and continues to do in our lives.

Reflections

As I sit here reflecting back on the year that’s about to come to an end and looking forward at the year to come I realize how abundantly blessed I am! God has done so much work in my life this past year and I have grown in more ways than I think I even know. I am so thankful for so many things. That my God loves me enough not to keep me where I am, He is continuously moving me down the path He has set out before me. I have learned to relentlessly pursue Him as He pursues me and this has developed such intimacy that it’s hard to describe. I am deeply and passionately crazy in love with HIM! There are things in my life that I long to have like a healthy real relationship with my siblings and because we all live in different parts of the country it’s hard to do so God has provided me with an over abundance of many siblings right here in Birmingham! He knows and hears the cries of my heart and He answers my prayers. Not always in the ways I want Him to but always in the way that is best for me.

I am thankful for my amazing husband! Although our marriage is not perfect by any means we do intentionally keep God as the center of it all and that is the secret to a strong marriage. When you are both pursuing God together and independently it creates a bond like no other. I am so deeply and madly in love with my sweet Joe. He loves God and pursues Him with a passion that fascinates me. He loves me and the kids with all of his heart and soul and we know it!

I am thankful for my kids, Kaylynne and Dominic! Some days I wonder if God really knew what He was doing trusting me with these precious gifts. They are both pursuing God with everything they have. They are so smart and some days it scares me with the knowledge they have. Especially the knowledge & understanding they have of God already. Childlike faith is really amazing when it’s up close and personal in your own children. Their hearts are so giving, loving and compassionate towards others and even towards each other sometimes. Watching them grow into the young woman and young man of God that they are called to be is truly amazing.

As far as looking at the year ahead the only thing I can say is THE BEST IS YET TO COME!