Me, My Selfie, and I: What Selfies Might Tell Us About Ourselves

Perhaps I am just getting old….or maybe 53 years of breathing earth’s air has planted a bit of wisdom and caution in my heart. Whatever the cause, the wariness I feel toward social media these days is very real and a cause of legit concern. Our devices are impacting us in so many ways that are good, but also in an equal number of ways that are not good. Today, I want to ponder the selfie phenom that has taken over our world.

Let me state at the outset that I am NOT pointing a finger at anyone with this post. If the shoe fits your foot, then wear it. If it doesn’t, leave it in the box for someone else to put on. I am simply sharing what the Holy Spirit has been working in MY heart.

 

Me, My Selfie, & I: What Selfies Might Tell Us About Ourselves

 

Have you ever looked up the definition of a ‘selfie’? Check it.

 Selfie: an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera, especially for posting on social networks.

 

In my heart, there is a great deal of discomfort with this ‘selfie’ obsession that has invaded social media. Have you ever Googled the word ‘selfie’? Sweet mercy, I did not just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, but what I saw shocked me. It is incomprehensible to me that people would take such pictures of themselves…AND POST THEM ONLINE. It is also hugely disturbing to me the sheer number of ‘selfies’ that many people take and post to social media in a 24-hour period.

An article published by the American Marketing Association in November 2015 entitled, Social Media Triggers a Dopamine High, tells us that there is a physical component to social media. Who knew? The neurochemical dopamine, known as the ‘reward molecule’ is “released after certain human actions or behaviors, such as exercising, or setting and achieving a goal.” Apparently social media activity is also a trigger for the release of dopamine according to a study of Australian consumers.

“Every time we post, share, ‘like,’ comment or send an invitation online, we are creating an expectation,” according to the AMA study. “We feel a sense of belonging and advance our concept of self through sharing.”

Nowhere is this more true than with selfies. Although the word ‘selfie’ is a relatively new one, the impetus behind the action is an age-old one. Obsession with, and glorification of, self. Taken to the extreme, that’s what a ‘selfie’ is…and it runs so counter to God’s desire and command for His children.

Let me clarify one thing, please. I am not talking about the occasional family/friend/group picture. Those are great, and I totally enjoy seeing them. Even the occasional ‘selfie’ posted to social media is acceptable. What I have become so leery of is the repeated pictures of self that are posted to social media. Five, ten, twenty or more ‘selfies’ in a day.

John, the beloved disciple, said that Jesus must become greater, but I must become less. (John 3:30). Paul emphatically stated that ‘to live is Christ’ (Philippians 1:21).

As Christ-followers, we are called to humble ourselves, look like Jesus, and ultimately, draw other people to Him. If my calling is to point others to Jesus, it is virtually impossible for me to do that when I am so focused on taking a dozen pictures of myself each day so that I, and others, can see my face on social media.

Psychologists have discovered that, taken to the extreme, the ‘selfie’ craze can lead to a psychiatric problem called body dysmorphic disorder, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to some studies, more than 3 selfies in a day might signify a mental disorder. Seriously!!

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, and Him only. I fear today’s ‘selfie’ obsession places self in the spotlight and dethrones Jesus in our hearts. Remember the definition of ‘idol’….anything that takes the place of, or occupies more of our heart than God is an idol. Y’all, I want my relationship with Jesus to be what other people remember about me rather than endless selfies that point to Leah.

I wonder if it is time for us to examine our motives in the area of ‘selfies’ and social media? Why are we posting selfies? What is our reason for being on social media? As I have done this self-examination recently, I decided that, for me, the right decision was to delete Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat from my mobile device. I’m not saying that decision is right for you, but for me, it was the right move. And you know what? To my surprise, I don’t really miss them. You may recall that my #OneWord365 for 2018 is ‘Christ-like’. I believe that as I seek to make much of Jesus and less of Leah I will become more like Jesus.

I would love to hear your thoughts on selfies and social media. Would you share in the comments?

 

SDG/FCA!!!

 

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Handshakes, Hugs, and Legacy

Two days before the calendar flipped to 2018 I stood among a standing-room only crowd in a tiny south Alabama Congregational Methodist church at the funerals of my husband’s uncle and cousin. On the 22nd of December, 94-year-old Uncle J, 93-year-old Aunt K, and their only living child, 75-year-old E were on their way to dinner near Mobile, Alabama. A woman in a pick-up truck had apparently already side-swiped another car before careening further down the wrong side of a four-lane highway. She hit our family members nearly head on before her truck burst into flames, killing her at the site of the accident. E, who was driving, tried to avoid the truck, but swerved just enough to take most of the impact on her side of the car.

Uncle J died at the scene. E was taken to the hospital where she underwent a couple of surgeries, but eventually died late on Christmas Eve from the trauma. Aunt K suffered a fractured sternum, broken ribs and other non-life threatening injuries. Her body should recover, but her heart is broken from the loss of her daughter and the man she had called ‘husband’ for over 75 years . Before I tap out another word, you need to know that these are three of the most precious Christian people I know.

 

 

Handshakes Hugs and Legacy: It's What You Leave Behind

 

 

As I stood in that church and listened to Uncle J’s nephew on the other side of his family offer the eulogy, I was touched by two things he said about Uncle J and E. As he reminisced, he told those of us in the church about Uncle J’s handshake. It was the handshake of a man who was a Southern gentleman. Firm enough to let you know he was serious about life and his handshake, yet not so firm that it hurt. Uncle J had developed dementia in his later years, yet his nephew shared that the handshake was still there, although it might not have been exactly like it once was. I have long been convinced that a handshake tells you a lot about a person.

While I do not recall ever shaking Uncle J’s hand, my memory of him over the 23 years that I have been part of the family is one of a true gentleman and gentle man who always had a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face. He was a retired civil servant who gave a lot of years of his life to his country. He lived in a brick home in the middle of cotton and peanut fields that he often farmed. The standing-room-only crowd was a beautiful testimony to the love that South Alabama community has for Uncle J, Aunt K, and Cousin E.

My memories of E are just as vivid and precious. She had a smile that would light up a room, and according to many in the church that day, E gave wonderful hugs. Her oldest daughter shared this fact with me in the hours after E met Jesus face-to-face. I can agree with them, having been the recipient of a few of E’s hugs. In fact, Uncle J’s nephew mentioned those hugs in his eulogy, which tells me that E was generous with her magnificent hugs.

If you know anything about me, you know that my jam, my heartbeat, is legacy…the legacy we leave each day for those who circle around our lives. Part of Uncle J’s legacy was his handshake that said he was a man of his word, a man of character and integrity. He was a faithful husband and a loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His handshake and life told you that he was a diligent worker and faithful Christian. Cousin E’s beautiful smile radiated the love and care of Jesus to all she met, and her hugs were God’s way of bringing comfort to many people, as well as a sense of being cared for by someone very special. Neither of these folks ever stood on a big stage, spoke to large crowd, or heard the call of fame or great fortune. Yet, they leave a legacy that will reverberate for generations.

Character

Integrity

Faithfulness

Diligence

Love

Joy

Comfort

Encouragement

 

All evidenced by a handshake or a hug.

 

I’d say handshakes and hugs are mighty fine pieces of a legacy, wouldn’t you?

My heart would be so appreciative if you would pray for Aunt K and for Cousin E’s three adult children and their families. I am so thankful that Jesus walks with them on this new journey.

 

SDG/FCA!!!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

 

Perhaps this post has you thinking about your legacy. You might want to change the life of a child in poverty through a Compassion Child Sponsorship. Please use the links below or on my side-bar to do that. Maybe you want to learn more about creating and leaving a godly legacy. I wrote a Bible study just for that. Click here or the link below to check it out.

My OneWord365 for 2018: It’s More Than I Imagined

For the past several years about the time the calendar flips to November I begin praying over what word the Lord will give me to be my #OneWord365 for that year. I pray eagerly and expectantly, knowing that whatever word He gives me will have great significance for me in the coming year. Without fail, I have found blessing as I press into the word He chooses especially for me.

 

When Your OneWord365 Is More Than You Can Imagine

 

 

Here are a few of them from past years:

2012 – Trust

2013 – Jesus

2014 – God gave me 2 words – Loss and Others

2015 – Renew

2016 – Rest

2017 – Come

 

Once again, I began praying in early November, asking the Lord to give me a word for 2018. He was very quiet for several weeks, then in early December a few words bubbled to the surface. The first was reconciliation, then compassion, followed by gentleness, humility, and contentment. I asked Him to confirm if any of those were to be my OneWord365 for 2018, but the confirmation never came. Mid-December rolled by, then Christmas was staring me full in the face. Still nothing concrete, although to be honest, I was terrified that humility was the one. Really, who in their right mind wants the Lord to have to work humility into their lives? Not me. I’d much rather do whatever it takes to adjust my attitude and heart to one that is humble rather than forcing God take me to the wood shed to do it. I know how much God hates pride, and I also know that He will do whatever it takes to rid the heart of his child of it. It’s that ‘whatever it takes’ thing that worries me!

But, I digress.

Last week Greg and I were in Orange Beach, Alabama for a few days for the funerals of two precious family members. The first morning we were there, I was outside exercising and talking to Jesus. I resorted to begging the Lord to give me my word for 2018. In my heart I knew that if He chose not to do so there was a good reason and that I would bend my knee to it. However, I really love having a word that speaks into my life each year.

My conversation with Jesus that morning went something like this:

Lord, would you please confirm to me what my OneWord365 is for 2018? Is it humility? Reconciliation? Compassion? Gentleness? Contentment? Or maybe it is something else? I want so much to know what word You are giving me for the upcoming year. Please help me to have a heart that is open and willing to hear.

Within minutes, I had the answer. My #OneWord365 for 2018 is a beautiful word that blends humility, reconciliation, compassion, gentleness, contentment and so many other words. Some of my words in the past have scared me half to death, but not this one. It calms my heart and pours peace into it. This word holds sweet promises of a closer walk with Christ. That is not to say that there will not be some work happening in my heart because of it. Oh, yes, there will be! Yet, I know the outcome will be so much better than I can even imagine right now.

I am excited to share with you that my #OneWord365 for 2018 is:

 

Christ-like graphic OneWord365 2017

 

As the Holy Spirit molds and shapes my heart to become more like the heart of Jesus, I will see a new humility birthed. I’m certain that more compassion, gentleness, and where necessary, reconcilation, will be evidenced toward others in my life. There will be a sweet contentment in my heart. I know there will be paths that the Lord and I will travel because of this word that I cannot even see right now, and I’m eager to go with Him. Gosh, y’all, ‘blessed’ does not even begin to describe the feelings I have over my word for 2018.

What is your #OneWord365 for 2018? Please share it in the comments, and if you have written a blog post about it, I would love for you to link to it via the comments.

Happy New Year, friends! Be blessed!

SDG/FCA!!!

 

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Advent Ponderings ~ Jesus Left Heaven

 

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

 

Jesus Left Heaven Advent Ponderings 1

 

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and I woke with Jesus on my mind this morning. This year, for some reason, my heart is particularly tender toward Christmas (which, if you know me, is huge), and as I lay in bed this morning I began to ponder something that gave me huge cause for pause.

Jesus Left Heaven

The simplicity of those words belie the magnitude of their meaning. Think about them! Ponder the events and emotions that surround them.

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, who had always existed in perfect, unbroken union with God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit, would very soon leave that perfect fellowship. When you and I are in relationships that are beautiful and sweet and harmonious the thought of leaving can cause great sadness, even if it is only for a short time. I cannot imagine the emotions of the Father as He turned to Jesus and said, “Now! Go!” Of course, I know I am projecting human emotions onto God, yet I have to believe that there was a void in heaven when Jesus stepped out and came to earth. Did the angels weep? Was there silence in heaven because everyone missed the presence of Jesus?

Jesus left heaven with full disclosure of the horrors awaited Him on earth. Was there dread in His holy heart? Angst? Fear? The teeniest bit of uncertainty? He could have said, ‘Nope! Not going. They are not worth leaving heaven.’ I certainly would have. We know from Scripture that as the final hours of His earthly life approached Jesus asked the Father if there was any way other than the cross. The stress on His body was so intense that He sweated blood. It makes me wonder what He felt in those last hours before He stepped out of heaven, put on human flesh, and submitted to the Father’s will for leaving.

Jesus left heaven for ME and for YOU. Whatever you feel you have been asked to give up in this lifetime, Jesus gave up far more. He laid aside His glory to put on human flesh. He stepped out of heaven knowing His mission on earth would be to die so that you and I could have restored fellowship with the Father.

Sometimes we resist stepping outside the walls of our homes or our social circles in order to bless another person, yet Jesus left heaven, not for His good, but for ours. Perhaps that does not impact you the way it has touched me this morning. I am slack-jawed at the sacrifice Jesus made in the leaving….a sacrifice that was for me.

SDG/FCA!!

As we begin this Advent journey I want to encourage you to be intentional in your preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Allow your heart to fully engage with all that Advent and Christmas mean. To help you do so, I highly recommend Kris Camealy’s Advent devotion book, Come, Lord Jesus for your pondering pleasure. Here is a link to it on Amazon.

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God Never Wastes a Trial

“God never wastes a trial.”

If I had to choose a motto for my life, this would be one of my top five. You might think, “why in the world would you choose a motto about trials?” Great question! You see, sometimes the most seemingly ridiculous things end up being beautiful and good. Let me explain.

Imagine that I had one of those moments where my life flashed before my eyes and I was blessed with the benefit of seeing a panorama of events, both good and bad. I would see moments of love and joy, sidled up next to moments of pain and heartache. I would see stellar life choices that I made, but also some amazingly poor choices that brought great sorrow and distress into my life. You, too?

But, let me tell you the beautiful thing in all of this hot mess that is my life. God never wastes a trial or a heartache.  Every poor choice, every time those choices brought pain. Shoot! Even when my choices are good and right, there is the opportunity for God to bring something beautiful and useful out of a heap of ashes or bed of roses. AND HE DOES! I’ve seen it time and time again in my life.

 

God Never Wastes a Trial

 

 

Case in point! Years ago I shared about my decades-ago struggles with loving a family member in this video. Frequently, when I speak to women, I have the opportunity to share this same story. I cannot even begin to count how many times women have come up to me and said, What? You too? I thought I was the only one who felt that way! Just last week I had the privilege of coming alongside a beautiful young woman who is walking this very path in her own life. I pray that I was able to speak encouragement into her heart in regard to loving a family member when all you feel is anger toward them.

It is in those moments that the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 comes alive:

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I cannot resist giving you verse 4 from The Message:

 

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

It is true, y’all…..God never wastes a trial. He has purpose in them. He has good in them. They may not feel good or purposeful. You may just have to grit your teeth and think, ‘this too shall pass. It is passing like a kidney stone, but I have faith that it will pass…and that God will somehow redeem it.”

Even as I type this post I am walking a path where another person is slandering my character and reputation with lies and twisted truth, yet I keep trusting that God’s got it and that one day I will be able to use the comfort I am receiving from Him to comfort another person going through similar circumstances.

Do you have a 2 Corinthians 1:4 testimony? Sister, God did not allow difficult circumstances in your life for no reason at all. He has purpose in them, but you must walk by faith toward that purpose until you can see it with your eyes. If you can see above the circumstances to the good that God is working in your heart, are you willing to share it to encourage other people? I would love to read how God has comforted you in a difficult situation so that you can turn around and comfort others going through similar situations. Would you share in the comments or via email?

God never wastes a trial!

SDG/FCA!!

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Here is the link to a book that has brought me great peace in times of trial and trouble. I encourage you to check it out.

Eat Your Veggies….and Your Dessert!

 

Eat your vegetables, and then you can have dessert.

It is mantra of moms everywhere. The plate is colorful with broccoli, carrots, corn, and a side of cornbread. Oh, and don’t forget the meatloaf. Definitely eat the meatloaf! And if you eat all of everything that is on your plate, then you can have dessert.

 

Eat Your Veggies and your Dessert

 

 

It is bribery of the highest order. That delicious coconut cake is sitting in the corner, calling my name, tantalizing me so much that my mouth waters just looking at it. But, in order to get to that little slice of heaven, I must wade through the green, orange, and yellow on my plate. Every bite of those vegetables is a little bit of torture for a girl with an incurable sweet tooth. Yet, because I am a Type A who has to do everything well and right, I rip my gaze from the coconut cake and focus on the vegetables and meat loaf. Let’s get ‘er done!

Carrots. Check!

 

Broccoli. Check!

 

Corn. Check!

 

Meatloaf. Check! Check! (I do love me some good meatloaf.)

 

Now, the pièce de résistance. Coconut cake!

 

For a girl who is very much a productivity addict the idea of ‘finish your vegetables before you eat dessert’ can be crippling?

Oh, I see you frowning and wondering how I turned vegetables into a handicap. Let me explain.

As you know, if you have been around these parts for more than a few days, I am on a journey toward rest (it was my OneWord 2016) and observing Sabbath regularly. Part of that journey is navigating the tension of completing my checklist of things to do each week before my Sabbath begins on Saturday evening. I’m doing really well at it now, but that has not always been the case. You see, as a productivity junkie I reasoned that there were things that needed to be accomplished (i.e., all the veggies eaten) EVERY. SINGLE. DAY or the world might implode!  So, while I desperately needed a day to rest (coconut cake), the veggies that needed eating (tasks on my to-do list) never ended. Which meant that I never set aside a day to rest (enjoy my piece of coconut cake).

Is that clear as mud? What I am trying to say is that the eat-your-veggies-before-you-eat-cake principle works well with a child, but for an adult with a need to always be productive, it doesn’t work so well. There has to be a point at which I say, ‘enough veggies!’ and settle down to enjoy my coconut cake.

May I share with you the part of all of this that makes me clap my hands in praise to my Jesus?

When I am obedient to carve out that Sabbath rest, the world does not implode, nor does my to-do list become an unmanageable Goliath. In fact, quite the opposite takes place. I am much more able to do what needs to be done in six days, and I do it with a greater measure of peace than I had when I was frantically striving seven days a week.

No one on the planet has ever had a greater agenda and to-do list than God:

Monday – Create light

Tuesday – Create the heavens

Wednesday – Create the earth and the seas, plants and trees

Thursday – Create the sun, moon, and stars, and set the seasons in order

Friday – Create sea animals and birds

Saturday – Create livestock, beasts of the earth, creeping things (eekk!), and Man

 

Then, on Sunday, the seventh day, God blessed His work and rested. If God decided to rest on the seventh day, who in the world am I to decide that I do not need rest? The Sabbath is for me, not for God, because He knew that I would need that rest. And oh, how desperately I need it! I need that time to slow down so that I can hear His voice in the stillness and silence of rest. I need that time for my physical body to decompress and relax. I simply need that time…..and so do you!

I want to encourage you to make Sabbath rest part of your week. I promise you will be glad you did.

Tell me about your Sabbath observance. How do you prepare? What does it look like?

 

SDG/FCA!!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

I am linking to two books that have been great influences on my life this year in regard to making good choice and to observing a Sabbath rest. I hope you will check them out!