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Entries in All Random All the Time (65)


The greatest spiritual lesson of the year

This year, as I look back, I see that I have learned more about my own tendency to comparison and discontentment than I have ever learned before.  Strangely enough, I can credit the internet for assisting in that.

I love the friends I have met online.  I really do.  I often wonder why the other five ladies at Out of the Ordinary would want to blog with me when they are clearly my betters in all respects.  I feel blessed that they would even consider doing such a thing.

I love the Facebook connections that I have made and the like-minded ladies and gents I have connected with. There is something really wonderful in the way that strangers become brothers and sisters through this medium.

But it can be the stuff of discontentment and uncertainty.  Everyone else's life sounds so much better. Everyone else has perfect children.  Everyone else has a beautifully decorated home. Sometimes, watching people interact with one another on things like Facebook and Twitter can make us feel excluded depending on the day and our current frame of mind.  On those days when we're looking at ourselves through our own view and not taking into consideration our God, they can be difficult times.  I have found out over thist past year that I am horribly ambitious in a way I don't like, and it is effort for me to remember that things aren't about me.  I don't know as if I have a good understanding about the place for ambition in my life, so I just let it sit there and percolate and remind myself, "be quiet, don't talk, you don't need to say anything."

For people who fear being rejected (and I admit to having this fear, still, as I approach the fifty mark) social media, especially, can cause discontentment.  For women who don't have employment outside the home (in a society which bases value on earning potential or ability to become famous) seeing what other women are doing can be a huge struggle.  Oh, I'm supposed to be a CEO by the time I'm forty, have a few books published, grow my own food, homeschool, stay a size five, AND have enough gluten-free recipes to start my own cookbook?

We remind ourselves that our sufficiency is in Christ, and that godliness with contentment is great gain (I Tim 6:6), and then we proceed with the same vicious circle the next day.

I have seen myself in this struggle, and I don't like it.  After all, I'm a grown woman who is supposed to know better.  Maybe I sound melodramatic, but I think inside many women my age is a young girl who feels awkward, uncertain, and tentative.  That is the stuff of discontentment.

The solution?  No, I'm not going to recommend forsaking the internet and all social media, although if that is what it takes to help you out, do it.  I am saying to monitor it.  And I'm saying to realize that no one puts on Facebook or Twitter or their blogs their real lives.  We share the good things.  The online presence is not the real life situation.  We all struggle, we all sin, and we all have days when we're not very nice people.

Over 2012, I've seen this in my life, and the lesson I have learned the most is that I need Christ so much more than I ever truly understood.  I think I had some naive notion that as I got older and more mature, forsaking sin would be easier; as if it was a matter of maturity.  It isn't.  Sin simply visits in different venues. Every day is a step taken into a place we've never been before, and sin is still there, lying in wait to trip us up. We need the cleansing of Christ daily.

This morning, as I had my prayer time, I thought about those verses in Matthew 5:12:

forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

Forgiveness, confession of sin; we need it.  We need it daily.  Of course, this is a no-brainer, but sometimes, it's one of those things that becomes rather rote; "yeah, yeah, Lord, forgive me because I really messed up today."  It must be vigorously addressed, and consciously forsaken.  And that means getting rid of things to tempt us.

Last weekend was a busy one and on Sunday afternoon, I'm afraid I rather conked out.  I was not online as much and I felt so much better.  It isn't the blogging; it's the social media outlets that pull me down.  Being less attached was good for me.  As with all things, balance is good.  Hopefully, in 2013, I will be able to learn the lesson of contentment and balance more deeply.


Giving praise where praise is due

This is a very random thought, pecked out on my keyboard having only had one cup of coffee, so my apologies if it isn't very coherent.

In recent days, I've read snippets here and there by women who talk about how female authors and teachers "changed their lives."  I'm always a little uncomfortable about that statement.  I'm very uncomfortable when women are too strident in defending their preferred guru but won't defend the authority of Scripture.  When we won't accept public figures standing to account for their teaching, I think there is something wrong.  I'm of the mind that if you're a public figure, it comes with the territory, and when there is argument, simply defend yourself. When hordes of women call others "mean" for objecting to a questionable teaching, discourse begins to crumble.  Cries like that are generally emotion-driven, and I think we can all agree that arguing with an emotional person is rather counter productive.

I have benefitted from the teaching of others over and over again.  I have learned something from books I have read, and been excited and challenged over the things I read.  But, ultimately, what changes me is not Mr/Miss/Mrs Famous Writing Person; it's the Word of God, ministered to me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  If Famous Writing Person did not exist, I could still experience those changes.  In fact, sometimes, Famous Writing Person can stand in the way if I pay more heed to that individual's words than God's Word.

If I cannot see in Scripture how as a woman I am loved, valued, treasured, chosen, redeemed, sanctified, glorified, then what I need is help understanding the Scripture.  Learning to interpret and understand the Scriptures is a life-long process.  And yes (shock!) a male teacher may just be the right individual to help me understand how to interpret and apply the Word of God.  Ultimately, a good teacher will tell us that when we do gain understanding and do feel like we've been changed, we must be careful to give the glory to God, not the famous writer.

One of the drawbacks of the internet is that it can make any ordinary joe (or josephine) seem bigger or more important.  We can all hide behind our screens and keep safely hidden any ugly things about us.  God, however, has revealed in Scripture all we we need to know about him in order to be reconciled to Him and to grow.  He is to be our ultimate teacher.  If we must rely on the sparkling personality of the speaker, or gain strength from the audacity of a public figure, then I think we will ultimately be the lesser for it.  If we want to be fully sanctified and transformed, our ultimate allegiance is to God and His Word.  

When we give thanks for others, let's thank the One who gave those people to us.  Ultimately, God is the one who deserves the praise.


After 12 years, still figuring out the internet

I didn't really start using the internet much until I was homeschooling.  At that point, finding resources and connecting with other homeschool families was faciliatated by the availability of the internet.  Of course, the resources are even greater now.  When I was homeschooling, I mostly "socialized" via parent forums for homeschool parents.  Very slowly, I began hearing about this mysterious thing called a "blog."  Facebook and Twitter would follow.  I thought I had it all figured out, but as with every other technological tool we use in this day and age, things change constantly.

I joined Twitter mainly to follow people I was already acquainted with.  Many of the women bloggers I had been reading for a long time were using Twitter, and it was a good way to keep up with links and other items they had to share.  It was for social purposes, as the term "social media" indicates.  

I've become aware, though, that there are many different kinds of social media users.  There are those who utilize it to market things whether it is a product or themselves.  If I ran a business, I'd use Twitter for that purpose.  During the aftermath of Hurricaine Sandy, my blog host, Squarespace, used Twitter to post regular updates about the possibility of downtime.  It worked well.

I like Twitter for seeing when my favourite blog reads have updated.  I do have Google reader, but Twitter works well, too.  I also like Twitter for news updates.  I follow our national network, CBC, for news updates as well as my local news.  These things are not socializing for me.  And I think that's what Twitter is best at doing: getting information out.

I had to chuckle on the weekend.  I was watching Carl Trueman and Derek Thomas live at the Quakertown Conference on Reformed Theology, which was hosted by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.  At one point, Trueman talked about how an British MP complained of having a tweet taken out of context.  Trueman laughed and said, "A tweet doesn't have a context."  I see his point.  I actually found over the past few weeks that some of the tweets made during the course of the US election, out of a proper context, sounded an awful lot like rants.  I understand the passion we often regard politics with, but frankly, some of them were really ugly.  That's not the best use of Twitter, in my opinion.

I've also discovered there are Twitter users who sign up with Twitter more for getting people to follow them than to show an interest in somone else.  In the words of a Genesis song, "I will follow you, will you follow me?"  If someone begins to follow me on Twitter, and that person has a blog or website, I take time to read it to see if it's something I want to partake of.  Most of the people who I follow have blogs I do read regularly. There are a lot of Twitter users out there whose sole purpose is to gain readership for their own blog.  I do tweet when my blog is updated, but that's more for the friends on my Twitter feed.  The world wouldn't end if I didn't tweet when my blog was updated.  I suppose that kind of use of Twitter is as legitimate as any other, but it isn't the entire modus operandi of my Twitter life. A few days ago, some Twitter friends and I had a lively exchange about the use of the word "notorious" to describe the health benefits of wild rice.  That was fun.  I like that use for Twitter.

Lately, I've been considering the difference between self-promotion and sharing.  It's a good thing to ponder. I'm more on guard lately about coming across that way, and I hope I continue to evaluate this area of my life.  I still wonder if I've figured this whole internet thing out, and separated the good from the bad.  It's one of those things I think I'll continue to evaluate.


Odds and ends

It was a beautifully quiet weekend during which I did nothing much that useful (insert happy face).  My daughter and younger son were home for the weekend.  Daughter spent a lot of time working on her research and marking papers; my son was working on a philosphy paper.  It was a really nice picture to go into our livingroom on Friday evening and see the two of them in front of the fire, working.  It was an especially nice sight to see my son doing homework, since in high school, he basically fluffed his way through it.  He is loving his philosophy and ancient mythology classes.  He's taking Latin next year, which makes me happy.  We did it when we homeschooled, and at the time, I had nothing but bitter complaining.  Nice to see this change.  I think I may have a classics major on my hands.  I cooked for my at home kids and wished my other boy could be home, too.

The weather has turned colder and I haven't been out picture taking in a while.  There is sun ahead, so I'm hoping to get out sometime this week.  My project for yesterday was to take a picture of a cactus with my macro lens.  I did indeed do that, and hope to edit it later today.

Check out this post at David Murray's blog.  It's an interview with Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.  That is a book worth reading; and it's not a "just for women" book.  

Reviews of A Year of Biblical Womanhood continue to crop up.  I liked this one in particular.  He mentions reviews done by Kathy Keller and Sarah Flashing, and I really recommend those as well.  You can find links for both of those in his post.

Advent is just four short weeks away!  Better start your Christmas shopping and baking.  I was made to promise my 20 year old son that I would do "a lot" of baking this year.  Apparently, numbers have been down in recent years.  I'll be making these for sure.

Today, we're hosting a giveaway at Out of the Ordinary.  During the month of November, when we are thinking about thanksgiving, we want to be thankful for the kindness shown to us by people who have been reading.  Pop on over and check it out.


Profile in the ordinary

Yesterday, I taught the ladies Sunday school class.  Sitting in the front row was my friend, Pat.  I just love Pat. She's funny, sweet, loves a good cup of coffee, and has a tender, compassionate heart.  I have learned so much from her, I often wonder at the notion that I should teacher her anything.

Pat lost her husband to leukemia in 2008.  Prior to that, she lost her son in a tragic car accident.  He was only 17 years old.  Many years before that loss, she lost a child in the early days of his infancy.  The same year my daughter was born, she gave birth to a daughter who has developmental issues.  This woman always has a smile on her face, and she loves to laugh.  She loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, and strength.  She's a loving mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, and friend.

I  have occasionally thought that she ought to write a book about what she's been through.  I will never forget the day of her son's funeral, as she and her husband comforted others as they went through the receiving line.  I will never forget how strong she was the day of her husband's funeral.  Since then, she has shown nothing but faith in the God she knows to be sovereign.  I have never heard her complain; ever.  As I think about the honour I have of being friends with her, and how I am able to work with her and worship with her, I relalize that I have something better than the book; I have the live version.

Her life of faith in any and every circumstance as I have worked alongside her is better than any book I could read, because it is a flesh and bone example, right before my very eyes.  Books can be closed and forgotten. We are so lucky in this day of information to be able to partake of the wisdom of brothers and sisters we will never meet this side of heaven.  I am lucky enough to know a few ladies like that.  Even sweeter, though, is the priviledge of knowing women like Pat up close and personal; women I can give a hug to, laugh with, and serve with.  The beauty of the ordinary.  Just seeing her smiling face there yesterday morning was a blessing.