Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lovers, Haters, & the Perfect Life of Social Media.

This. This is garbage:

Listen. Post your workout. Post that it was a good one. I'm genuinely happy for you! When I'm in a funk, your dedication helps me. When you start a new program or start from scratch, I am encouraged. I will cheer with you and for you.
If you fall off the treadmill and smack your face, please, please for the love of Richard Simmons, post a dadgum Instacollage. I will respond with the pic of me and my wet pants.
[The link is for my baby readers. You're welcome.]

Perfect Life.
A few days ago, Shauna Nequist  posted a blog for Relevant Magazine, "Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life."

In her post, she spoke about the dangers of social media to make us feel "less than". I get this. It's a thing. I don't want to post any picture or tweet or update that is going to make anyone feel like a loser. Here's the deal, I can't always control what makes you feel like a loser. Nor can you control if I'm having a slow day and can't handle that you just worked out, got groceries, wrote a paper for your Master's class, folded laundry and helped your kid's teacher all by 9am! Listen. On my best day, I will not do all that by 9! But, if you can and I can't be happy for you, well, that's on me!

And, sometimes it is on me. There are times that seeing my people do all these amazing things can start to make me feel loserish or homesick or question my calling. I have to check that with me and Jesus.

For example, I was going through a bit of a homesick season a few months ago. I took a six-week FB break and it helped. Seeing all the awesome things my friends were doing without me was making me sad. I was having a hard time being present. Well, that's not my friends' faults. They are just living. I had to make an adjustment.

Another time a friend and I commented on the same post on Facebook. Her comment made the point to say something to the effect of 'This is why I do better when I work outside of home. I feel like I make more of an impact on the world now than I did when I was at home.' This statement came at a time when I was really questioning my adequacy as a homeschooler and questioning my calling and I was emotional. (This is, like, every month.) I was ready to respond with how much of an impact it makes on my family and the future Kingdom of God that I am preparing these girls of mine for battle in this world. I didn't.
She wasn't talking about me. She was talking about her. I had to check that.

Listen. I understand that if your only social network is an online social network, you might think that everyone else is always beachin' it up or busting up some brothels or getting on another plane or getting married.

You know it's not true. That's not ALL your people and that's not ALL they're doing. One of the points that the author says is that "everyone's life looks better on social media". Well, yah. What do you want to see? My pile of laundry?

Fine. 
<True story: A few summers ago, we were evidently having a lot of good times on the old FB. One particular day, though, Spouse and I had had discussion about how much he had been working lately. Later that night, discussion subsided, we were with a friend who was commenting on how much fun we'd been having, according to the pictures he had been posting. She said, "Mark, do you ever work?" We about fell out. Too funny. Perspective, Kids. Perspective.>

Just do this exercise: When someone posts a pic of her trip, already KNOW that there is going to be a mess of suitcases and laundry when she returns, whether you see the picture or not.

Same for the gym: If you see my update about my workout. Don't hate. Imagine my smell.
It's not perfect. That'll help you.
Good grief.

The Haters.
The haters, they aren't ever gonna be happy. They are mad if you post your workouts, too many political posts, your meals, too many Jesus posts, too many soapbox posts, etc. You know. They are just gonna have something to say. And, I don't even mean these little memes. I mean, even the garbage one above makes me snicker. I don't have to agree with it for it to be funny.

How about these:
"I hate my life."
"I can't deal with people."
"I am so sick of _____."
Constantly!
That's what really bugs me. The downers and the foul people. Bless.
No joke, one time I saw one of these downer types post about his annoyance at other people being negative all the time! Spouse and I were cackling at the irony!

The Lovers.
I love the people.
The people in front of me and the ones on the screen.
My Facebook friends and Tweeps and Instagram followers are my people.
When my people's kids do well on their report cards, I love to rejoice with them!
When your kid makes a good showing in the steer competition or baseball game, post that stuff if you want to!
When your teenager stops thinking of herself for a split second and shows a glimmer of what you've been teaching her for 14 years, I will 'like' that, too!
When your 2 year old comes to show you-literally- that she pooped in the potty, dang. I'll be proud and sorry for you.
The hilarity that your kids come up with, post it, if you want to.
If your purpose for the social networking is to promote a cause close to you, rock on! I can hide you if it bugs me, but I ain't mad, Bro!

Let us consider how we may spur one another 
toward love and good deeds... Hebrews 10:24

Bottom line:
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, they are all like the virtual fridge.
If you feel like it, share your life.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
We already know it's not perfect.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Darkness and The Christian.

This weekend, while my happy little family was camping and carrying on, a brother in Christ that I've never met was walking in a most dark place.

The news of Matthew Warren's suicide was saddening to many and devastating to the family, I imagine. I ache for them.
Immediately I started to wonder how hard it must be to be Rick Warren's son.
To be a force for Jesus Christ is to put a target on yourself and your family for the Enemy to attack. 

My own head is Satan's weapon of choice against me. Although, I've NEVER been suicidal, not even close, I know what it's like to feel gray and defeated and guilty. All while [semi] carrying on with life. I usually just call it a "Funk". I've written of this before.

Last week, speaker and author, Jen Hatmaker, on her blog, called it the "Doldrums". In this post, she proceeded to tell her readers some of my exact thoughts! Evidently, we've been in this little funk on the same timeline, which is a [nother] bummer, cause we could have at least been eating our way through it together!
I encourage you to read it and develop your own attack plan for if/when the funk hits you.

This weekend Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research wrote this post for CNN regarding "Mental Illness and the Church's Response".  Read this. And have your church leadership read it. 

Understand that these are two different situations: Mental illness or depression which requires medical help and a time of just being "low".

A few points on this:

  • We've got to give our Christian brothers and sisters a safe place to work through this junk! Just because you've never experienced it, doesn't mean that it isn't real and dark and painful and debilitating.
  • Call it what it is. This weekend, my Spouse spoke truth to me telling me that I don't have to believe the lies Satan is telling me. He called it: LIES. Lies that may sound like fat, lazy, guilty, terrible, unworthy, high-maintenance, stupid, worst mom ever, worst homeschooler ever, fatty mcgavin, ridiculous, can't believe I did that, I'm so dumb, etc....
  • The darkness seems to have different shades. You might have a little gray, another may be living the charcoal area, while it seems others are in the blackest of darkness. 
  • All shades of darkness are real, whether you've seen them or not.  
  • For you to say to me that you don't believe that a true Believer can experience depression doesn't make me feel less depressed. It makes me a Believer in Jesus that wants to punch you in the throat.
  • Let's work on NOT being little Christian tool bags and show a little compassion. Get over any stigmas or preconceived notions you've got about the blues, depression, mental illness, or meds. Just get over it.
  • If you are in a funk, know you don't have to stay there. I get you.

Love,
Not a Tool Bag.

Note: The Spouse, the beach, the gym, & Jesus totally put me on an upswing. Get behind me, Satan!

Beach Camp

Thursday evening I posted on Twitter & Facebook:
"Getting up at 6am to go camping. In a tent. 
Also looking for a good family counselor in the Houston area."

I was kidding, of course, sorta, 'cause ya know stretching out of one's comfort zone for an extended period of time is enough to send even the tightest of families to counseling. Also, I'd been in a bit of a funk for a couple of weeks and I wasn't sure about my mental stability. 
Still, I'm all about being flex.

The girls have been asking to go camping for a good while now, and with soccer and basketball over, this was the time. I considered letting this be a Dad/Daughter Camping Trip.
But, I couldn't do it. I kept thinking how much my Spouse abhors crowds of people, thus, Disney and how he has faked happy at Disney 100+ (literally) of times, so I could put on the happy face for camping.

Plus, it was at the beach.
Wahoo! 

Loaded and ready.
We were prepared to stay one or two nights, depending on the situation and mood-o-meter. Spouse was even prepared to find us a hotel, in part because he's awesome and in part because the turkey wasn't sure if we'd make it through the night! 
Are you believin' that junk!?
Camping supplies, paddle board, books, Slim Jims, Salt & Vinegar Chips. Boom.

We drove the 4 hours down to Padre Island National Seashore where there is camping right on the beach. 
This has to make camping better, right? The beach? Yes! 


This is what our spot looked like when we got there! 
The view.
And, boom. Shelter.
60 miles of this.
 We didn't drive the whole 60 miles. You need a 4-wheel drive.
Also, the bathrooms would only get farther and farther away.

Speaking of bathrooms, I definitely peed off the back of those dunes.
Spouse was proud.
The paddle board never even came off of the car. It was crazy windy!
There actually were decent bathrooms with COLD showers to help us rinse some of the sand off. During the heat of summer, cold showers might be refreshing, but when the temp was 65 and dropping,  it was horrific. The Big Sister washed her hair, though. Nuts.

We got in the tent pretty early. The wind was picking up and girls were spent.
We got out our books and snuggled in.
Sand was everywhere.
It was so hard to get any sleep. The wind was fierce and the tent was flapping so loudly! It was hilarious. Let me tell you what, though: we were warm. We never felt the wind or the cold. That tent was legit.
And, it turns out, I brought my counselor with me. Spouse and I talked and talked and I cried and he is mine. 
Then...
There was darkness no more.
Beautifully painted sky just for us.
 It was a good little 30 hour trip. And it was enough.
We were ready to go home.
It was great.
Also, we're considering a little pop-up camper.
We might just take this little freak-show on the road.
Just keepin' it real.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The One that Rocked Our World.

This one. She's 10 today. 
She has rocked our world from Day 1. Probably yours, too, if you've met her. 
She's that kid. You know. The one. I don't know where she comes from.



Maddy Grace, 
The Jesus Force is strong in you, Sister. We can all see it. People tell often how cute you are, and that is so very true. But, you are more. 

You are radiant. It's Jesus. He radiates through your captivating personality, your smile, your fantastically blue eyes and that over-the-top dimple.

It's Jesus in you that captivates others so that you grab them. 
Grab them for Jesus.
It's Jesus in your smile that makes us soak up every bit of your wit and hilarity. 
Smile, they will, too.
It's Jesus in your eyes that make us pay attention to your wise and discerning little spirit. 
Discern, Sister, and stand strong in it. 
It's that Jesus-given dimple that makes us love the fierce negotiator in you. 
Negotiate. Debate. Do it. 
We'll give you practice until you can debate someone else.

I keep asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people... Ephesians 1:17-18



For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- not of yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works so no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
..The one who has been given much, much more will be required... Luke 12:48
You are my favorite rockstar. I love you more than sunshine.