Tag Archives: social media

I Would NEVER….

Over a decade ago, as a late 20-something and first-time pastor’s wife, I sat in a room full of crafting and scrapbooking late 30-somethings at a friend’s home.  The chatter quickly turned to the latest hair-coloring or nail-doing experience with advice and suggestions hanging in the air between us.  At the time, I neither colored my hair nor had my nails done.

I stated clearly and boldly that I would NEVER color my hair and that I would NEVER pay someone to paint my nails.

Several years after that fun evening filled with laughter and my judgmental attitude, I discovered that having someone paint my nails helped me not to pick at the skin around my nails.  I had (finally) been properly diagnosed with bipolar tendencies and placed on medication.  The huz and I had long known that the skin-picking was a tell-tale sign of something being “off” in me, but I struggled to stop.  The kind ladies at the nail shop clipped away the straggling pieces of skin and transformed my fingers from disfigured to beautiful.

So much for NEVER paying someone to paint my nails…

As I passed my mid-30s into my late 30s, I noticed more and more grey in my typically deep brown hair.  As someone who others had mistaken for the nanny of my own children a decade earlier, I enjoyed the age-centering feeling the silver strands gave me initially.  As time went on, though, I started to notice that some of the strands were dull rather than the vibrant silver that I knew would come in another decade.  My dear stylist suggested a little layering of color to ease me into the next decade or so.  Every two to six months, I have her add another layer of blending, and it is fun.  Even though I do not want all of my silver to go away, I love the vibrant feeling I have leaving her place.

So much for NEVER coloring my hair….

This blog has been quiet for several months – over six to be more exact – and there are several reasons for that. I would love to say that “being busy” is the main reason, but that is just an excuse that I allow to rule my actions.  In reality, I think I gave up my voice – that style of thinking and writing that I have relied upon to communicate my deep soul thoughts.  When I started writing a blog a day in August 2011, I started to find my voice again.  I found a rhythm, and I thought, “I will NEVER stop writing.”

And then I did. The blog went silent.

I do not think that there is anything wrong with the fact that I have not written for a while.  For ten weeks of that silence, I compiled others’ voices (and little bit of my own) into a project for Village Creek Bible Camp.  The compilation of voices all focusing on providing a daily devotional thought to anyone who would buy the book is – next to my marriage and raising two wonderful children – the project that has given me the most life. Ever.  I was seriously overwhelmed by nearly thirty others giving their time, energy, and talent to a project that was born from a conversation.

So…what is wrong with NEVER?

The social media world bombards us with information about much bigger NEVERs than hair-coloring or not blogging.  In our efforts to share our deep beliefs on all points on a given spectrum, we often reach a point where we say things that sound a lot like NEVER.  And then those NEVERs start to create walls between us, and our dialogue stops as we pick up our stones ready to throw them toward the words on the “other side.”

Before we say NEVER, we might need to take inventory of our lives and our purpose.

The words on the other side of where we stand have people in front of them. In the same way that I let a stream of judgment flow onto my friend about hair and nails, we cover others around us with our opposition to their words.  We rarely consider the harm that this brings to our relationships.  Even when do consider it, that rarely concerns us.  We want to win the argument.  We want to be right.

And we forget that there are relationships at stake. 

Often our differences and judgments come from our life experiences.  We engaged in some kind of NEVER earlier in our lives, and now we have to stand against that in order to reconcile or to redeem our past decisions.  We have been hurt by the NEVER of someone else, and now we have to stand against that in order to heal.

Anger – judgment – does not lead to healing.

As an opinionated person, I am grateful that – in America – we all get to have our opinions.  With the First Amendment in place, I can be wrong, you can be wrong, and we have to be civil about our disagreements.  If our speech incites actions that would harm others, we lose that freedom. While most people would disagree with me on this, I am going to say that most of our current speech falls into this category.  Rather than engaging in loving conversation that leads to greater understanding of others’ opinions, we lob hateful (and sometimes unrelated) grenades at the other side and then look surprised when an explosion occurs.

I have had a few thoughts bouncing around in my head that sound a lot like “that voice” that I used to have through writing blog posts.  As I share those thoughts, I desire to always come to “the table” with love, consideration, and hope.  In my latest “old age,” I know better than to say that “I would NEVER” (purposefully) be hurtful as I write.  I do hope that I avoid hurtful speech, though, and would appreciate readers holding me to that.


Filed under faith, health, Relationships, Thoughts

Madness, Selection Sunday, and Jesus

Today is a big day in this little social experiment I have going on with the hoopla of March Madness 2014.  I am pretty much “all-in” when it comes to thinking about this.

Every time I have been in a restaurant this week (which has been more often than usual due to a pretty hectic schedule), I have paid more than usual attention to the televised last rounds of various conference games.  In addition, I have followed a bunch of more sportsy-types on Twitter…and have actually paid a bit of attention to the Twitter feed.

And I started to care about March Madness hopefuls that are connected to my life – Baylor and the University of North Dakota.  When the women’s teams won their championship conference games, I cheered (not too loudly because we wouldn’t want to be “outed” as a sports-concerned citizen).  And when the men’s teams both lost their championship games last night, I wondered how this would impact my bracket selections this coming week…and if they would even make it past the Selection Sunday cut.

Oh, the madness!

The madness continues today with “Selection Sunday” – the day when the mad teams are announced.  I just Googled information and found out that the announcement is tonight – phew, didn’t miss it yet!

How does this work? Good question…and I did not know the answer, so I figured maybe some readers did not either.  So here – I will enlighten you.

  • 32 teams get in because they are champions of their conference (think Big12 [Baylor], BigSky [University of North Dakota], etc.)
  • The remaining teams are chosen by committees (one for women/one for men) who engage in bidding, drafting, and other sports terms that essentially sounds like voting to this girl
  • The whole process takes nearly a week and culminates in Selection Sunday – today

Most bracketing “games” require that you submit your brackets by midnight on Wednesday, so you all know where I will be on Wednesday night!

Stacy’s bracket update: I have opted out of the Warren Buffet bracket (this seems like a big ploy by Quicken to get information about us so that they can contact us) but have chosen to add a bracket that is not a competition rather another experiment – round by round.  It seems like a fun idea to get to choose the winners in this way.  So – I only have to choose winners of games for the first round right now.  Once those games end, I will have to choose winners of the the second round games. And so on…sounds fun to me.

Five brackets in total is the number on which I have landed.

As Kerry and I left a birthday party for a friend last night, I told him that I wanted to write about Selection Sunday today but turn the thought on its head a bit.  All of this earning one’s way into the madness had me thinking on a Saturday night in lent about how glad I am that we do not earn our way into heaven.

Kerry had shared the big idea of today’s sermon with a friend attending the birthday party, and I had overhead him…while glancing at the television showing yet another conference championship game.

And I wondered what Selection Sunday would look like if we applied it to our faith lives.

Every now and then, I want to apply Selection Sunday techniques to my walk with the Lord.  When I lose “a championship battle” in my life, I want to be able to convince God that I am still worthy of His love – ask him to look at my season overall rather than at just that one game.  Or – when I win some battle in my life, I want to jump up and down and cheer at my accomplishments…and I often forget to acknowledge my coach.

But I am pretty sure if our lives were in the hands of a selection committee, we would all be surprised at the outcome of the bidding, the drafting, and the voting.  If they analyzed the tape of our lives like they do the tapes of games, they would find the flaws that most of us only hide in our hearts…and few of us would make the cut into the madness itself.

And then remember – only one team is champion of this whole thing…if we applied the March Madness model, few of us would get to heaven…and the process to get there would be difficult with lots of work to get there.

Instead, God has made done the work for us…He has created the rules, has played the games, and has sent in His champion in our place. We could not even make the cut to get onto the team an play…so He set up His own bracket system. 

And He shocked us all.  Thank you, Lord, for Jesus.

PS: one of the shocking finds in my March Madness research was to discover that Christianity Today has one of the most comprehensive and understandable explanations of March Madness.  When a co-worker and I were having a little giggle about this on a break this past week, I said ,”Well, Baylor claims that its aim is excellence because Jesus cares about excellence.”  It makes sense, really.  Sic’em, Bears!


Filed under Relationships, Thoughts

Opinions Get Us Into Trouble

24208_580351141350_1443036_nMost of us tend to have an opinion. I sure do – on just about any subject except where we should eat tonight…much to the huz’s chagrin. With technological advances and the trappings that have come with them, we are able to share our opinions with the masses. As the huz likes to quote from despair.com: “Never have so many said so little to so few.”  Having the ability to share our opinions does not always mean that we should.

I found out this week that sharing an opinion can be hard.

After weeks of going back and forth in my mind about whether I should write a blog post about why I was not reading 50 Shades of Grey, I wrote the post…and then I wrote another one because I found the comments that agreed with me so compelling.  I think the second post is where I truly come down on the issue – it’s a double standard to think that women can read explicit material about sexual activity while thinking that men cannot watch sexual activity.  Some may agree but decide that it’s ok for both to go down that road.  That is pretty hard to argue with that, but at least the standards are the same.

In retrospect, though, the second post is the more reasonable of the two.  The first post could be read as condemning or judgmental of those who disagree with me.  The friend who pointed that out to me did so gently, and I appreciated that.  We need to learn how to communicate respectfully with one another in this public realm if we are going to continue to have conversations via social media.  If I came across as judgmental, I want to apologize.  It was not my intention.  Rather, my intention was to sound the alarm and to wake up what I have observed to be a blind following of the latest fad.

This week has been hard on me emotionally.  I chose to share my opinion in the public realm – one that I had thought through and talked through with the huz – and some people disagreed with me.  I am ok with that.  If someone did not disagree with me,  I would have to question the necessity of the post at all. Several people who disagreed with me did so in very respectful ways.  One woman hesitated to write her response, and it was obvious that she had gone out of her way to be respectful toward me in her disagreement.  I so appreciated that!!!  I actually hope that she is reading this so that she can be thanked publically.

What I had not experienced to the extent that I did this week was the way in which others would anonymously disagree with me in a less respectful manner such as the one below.

“I don’t think I have ever read anything more hypocritical than this.”

This went to my core!  I am sure that I am hypocritical in areas of my life, and I would like to reprimanded appropriately when that happens.  What hurt so much was that there was no explanation as to why!  The friend who suggested that the post may come across as condemning of those who did read the book did so in a way that was truthful without being mean to me – she was gentle and even questioned if her reading of it that way could be her own struggle with the book.  But the anonymous commenter who called me hypocritical – well, let’s just say that it felt mean to me.

And then I realized that what I have said all along about social media is true.  The anonymous nature of social media allows us to behave poorly, to call each other names, and to say things without full explanation or critical thought.  This means that we are not entering into engaging respectful conversation about critical issues such as health care reform, so-called marriage amendments, and literature that may or may not promote a view of sexuality that is unhealthy.

By the very nature of having an opinion, we are going to disagree with someone else on some issues. And that is ok!  This is the beauty of living in the United States.  We are entitled to our opinion, we are protected by the Constitution to share it, and we often are asked to vote about it.  We live in a nation that seems more divided than united on most issues.  Presidents are elected by margins, governor races often require recounts because of how close they are, and referendums pass or fail by the skin of their teeth.

We live in a nation that seems more divided than united on most issues.

The flip side of my experience was watching the experimental experience of a friend who posted on Facebook that she would like to have a civil conversation about the repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act.  It worked.  And here is why: she stated that she wanted to have a civil conversation.  She set up the expectations, and people carefully chose their words.  But everyone could still say what they needed to say, share their thoughts, and even disagree with each other.  69 comments later, I think that people on both sides of the issue understood each other better, some may have started agreeing with other people, and – for the most part – everyone felt heard. Props to her!

What have I learned this week about conversations via social media?

  1. If I do not want people to disagree with me, I should not post about issues that will for certainly (isn’t that a great phrase?  “for certainly” – it is correct, too, because it is an adverb!) cause a disagreement.
  2. I need tougher skin so that I do not take anonymous, hurtful comments to heart.
  3. There are ways that we can set up conversations to be more respectful in nature.  I’m obviously still learning on this one!
  4. Nothing can replace an in-person conversation
  5. Social media allows for many from all over the world – who may not have ever been in the same conversation otherwise – to participate in these discussions.

What to do next? I, for one, will recover from this week by relaxing on the beaches of Rhode Island and Massachusetts for the next week, hug a cousin’s baby, and laugh with my grandmother over (hopefully) baked stuffed shrimp.

Happy Friday!

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Out of Things to Say?

Recently one of my blog followers emailed me with a question that seriously stroked my ego quite a bit.

“Are you taking a break from blogging?”

At first, I thought, “Well, no!”

And then I had to consider the fact that it had been a solid week between blog posts.

So maybe the answer is, “Yes!”

But that answer is unsettling also…because I am not taking an active break from blogging; I just haven’t blogged much.

This follower’s question was not the first that I had about my lapse in blogging, but to be honest with everyone….I have felt as thought I have little left to say lately.

After April with its pneumonia visit and then May with its weird cardiac-like health visit that turned out to be nothing but a chemical imbalance (albeit a dangerous one), my brain is tired. 

Perhaps the bipolar low energy has come to hover over my brain?

Whatever the case may be, I seem to have energy to get through the day, give time to those in require it, and then I need to sleep.  Writing – let’s face it – ranting is exhausting. The exercise of it is such a good thing, but it is tiring.

Perhaps this lack of writing is due to the verbal (written) vomit of thousands of words in the form of bullying content for ParentFurther’s website?


Maybe I’m just having a mellow time…

I am not done blogging.

I have lots to say – whether anyone wants to read it or not!

So…if you are faithful reader, I thank you.  Please do not abandon this!  I will be back, but I don’t know with how much frequency or with how much fervor just yet.

I am considering having some guest posts…so if you have been playing with the thought of blogging, but the whole thing is overwhelming and you’ve thought, “Perhaps I should try it”…give me a holler.  Perhaps you should write something fun, and we’ll post it here.

Happy Saturday – who is going to graduation parties or ceremonies this weekend? 

Speaking of graduation, I need to thank Ashley from the West Central Tribune in Minnesota for using a blog posting of a grad speech I gave two years ago as a printed article last week.  I was so honored.

Click here for the online version of the article.

Click here for the original which was posted on my blog.

ps: My daughter had a GREAT idea for grad invites.  She thinks they should include the menu so that attendees can determine the order of party attendance based on the menus of the parties.  What do you think?

Ok, really – have a great day!  Smile


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Social Media Helps with Homework

I realize that the title alone is somewhat controversial. Now that we all spend hours upon hours with our Facebook, Twitter, and blog worlds open on our screens, iPads, iPods, or phones, it is hard to argue that we might have better relationships with our screens than anyone with flesh. However, this past week I had my eyes opened to the amazing advantage that all of this screen time can have for students with the right connections in social media.

Let me explain.

The girl’s English class is currently reading and discussing the famed Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

An aside: I am shocked that they have not read 1984 first as I did.  Mrs. Fischer’s order of reading books is the right way to read books. I can guarantee that all of my high school friends would agree with me on this one. We read 1984 first; all of education world should do so as well.  Sorry…digression!

Back to the girl: over the weekend, she had an assignment to find a non-fiction article with content related to Brave New World.  She had no problem with that thanks to my Twitter relationship with the Fargo Forum. Earlier in the week, because the huz and the boy were out of town leaving us to fend for ourselves, the girl and I had eaten dinner at a restaurant. During that time, I had checked on Twitter and found an article about sex education standards through the Fargo Forum’s feed. I went to the link and read excerpts of it to the girl who shared my outrage by saying, “Mom – it is just like in Brave New World.”  Two days later, she came home with the assignment mentioned above, and she asked me for the link to the entire article.

Regardless of how we feel about students reading Brave New World, how we feel about sex education standards, or how we feel about the overuse of social media, we cannot argue that my Twitter connection saved the girl hours of hunting on the internet for the perfect article for her assignment. We do not need to revisit the horrors and evils of the internet; that is someone else’s article. When used responsibly, Facebook and Twitter can be great connections as evidences by the example shared here. In addition to helping with homework, they can be great ways to find rides to pick up our car at the repair shop, costumes for a musical, and helpers with a volunteer event.  Yes – all of these have been used by yours truly.  Additionally, they can be great ways to promote products or events. What other venue allows me to touch over 700 people who might retweet to their 700 friends?

Before I sound like an internet use extremist, I want to be clear about how I view it.  Do I think that parents should look over their children’s shoulders, put website tracking stuff on the computers, and invade their privacy?  Yes! In fact, I think a “no privacy” rule should be enforced. No one under 18 is allowed to have a cell phone contract; that contract is in their parents’ names – that means that parents are responsible for all texting, etc., that their children do. Invade away! No one under 18 is allowed to purchase internet connections; that connection is in their parents’ names – that means that parents are responsible to know and monitor what is going on through that connection.  Invade away!

As in most issues that we face, the problem is not the technology itself but rather the ways that we have trained ourselves and the younger generation to use it.  Last week, I was reminded again that technology is a valuable tool.  And my Twitter connections are mighty useful!  Thanks, Fargo Forum,  for helping out with my daughter’s homework.

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Impact of Social Media

Since Sunday, our family has been staying with family. The place is without any www contact except for the phones we along and the occasional stop at McDonald’s and a little wifi time. What is life like when we unplug from our email, Facebook, blogs, and texting? For me, it seems pretty boring and lacks contact with the “real” world. I even get prayer request from church on my email! I am so thankful that my phone gets decent reception in the depths of South Dakota.

While we have been visiting, a couple of relatives are hospitalized. The phone rings (a landline!) several times a day with updates. I mentioned to my huz that this shocks me; he reminded me that it is no different than my phone buzzing with an update by phone, text, or email. Although technology has changed the method and speed by which we receive information, we are communal – news, whether good or bad, needs to be shared.

I ran across a YouTube video that examined how the Christmas story would have been impacted by a social media age.

Check it out by clicking on this sentence.

In this time between Christmas and the new year, it is good to pause and consider how we share news.

What news is appropriately shared via text, email, and Facebook?

I would love for readers to share their thoughts in the comment section.

Happy Wednesday!!

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