CAROL’S FACE BOOK DO’S & DON’TS RANT

Having a little fun this morning, thinking about all the stuff that makes us love and hate Face Book. Here’s some Do’s and Don’ts I thought about:

DO post up your need for prayer when you are sick or hurting, remembering of course that we don’t necessarily need ALL the gory details.

Private Message me if you really need to vent or cry, or share some kind of awful news. I’ll be there for you, and it doesn’t need to go on the Wall.

DO post up lots and lots of pictures of your babies, grand-babies, cute animals and pretty flowers, sunsets, your vacations, happy life events, even your favorite new recipes! Show me your happiness, your encouraging words, your praises for the blessings in your life. Share with me all of those “God is good, all the time” moments in your life.

Now, however, here’s my Top 10 Reasons for Banishing Facebook Friends to my Restricted or Blocked Lists

  1. Bash God, or our Military Service Members, Police Officers, Firefighters and other assorted heroes. Fortunately, I haven’t had to lose many friends over this issue, but you betcha I will block you in an instant if you denigrate those who serve and protect.
  2. Nasty Cussing. Just don’t.
  3. Posting ugly family fights and drama. Especially about your spouse. Life is too short for such hatred and nobody wants to see your dirty laundry hanging out on the line. This goes for ugly church fights, neighborhood drama, and friendship break-ups, too.
  4. FB Stalkers – you know, they never post or respond, but when you see them in person they will tell you exactly what they think about everything you or any of your children have ever posted in the past year.
  5. Too many posts selling stuff. Let me see your special of the week. Even once a day might be okay, ’cause I’ll just scroll past if I’m not feeling it. But more than that will get your business restricted for certain.
  6. Radical Agendas. I have friends from all over the world and most walks of life. I enjoy lively, friendly debates on political views and news events in general. I am even tolerant to varying degrees of religious beliefs. I don’t need to know about your sexual preferences. Don’t over push the really radical stuff just to get people riled up. Remember that Sin is Sin in God’s eyes, and we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. IMHO, the sanctity of marriage has already been destroyed by heterosexuals and people of faith and the radical LBGT community needs to quit being the same jerks they accused everyone else of being just a few years ago. If someone posts something on my wall that is totally-in-your-face against all my own personal and strongly held beliefs, I will simply mark it “I don’t want to see this” the first time, but if it happens a few more times, I will restrict them.
  7. Really old stuff that is just making the rounds again. Internet hoaxes. Lost children, for example. Just take two minutes to do a quick search on them to see if they really are still missing before you share a 3 year old post on a kid that ran away for two hours. Or that some soda company left the words “in God we Trust” off their patriotic cans, or that some celebrity died that really didn’t die. Search Engines, use them!
  8. Selfies by the dozens. Selfies of your bare feet. Selfies of your half-eaten meals. Selfies up your nostrils. Selfies of your tattooed belly button, boobs or other body parts. Selfies are over-rated, IMHO. Not too many people can even pull off a really good Selfie.
  9. Anything really grotesquely horrible. If it’s gonna make people want to throw up, please don’t be posting it on my wall!
  10. Don’t gripe to me about me. If you don’t like what I post, feel free to block or restrict me. That door always swings both ways.

Morning. Rant. Over. Now, let’s see some of those cute grand-babies!

Graduation Reflections

Our children are in our thoughts and on our hearts every moment of every day. I know mine sure are. But this week my boy has been the main character in the play rolling through my mind. I keep remembering him as a little kid, playing with GI Joe and Winnie the Pooh together. Struggling in school to learn to read & write, with a learning disability so complex that the doctors and experts never did figure it out. Having counselors talk to him about vocational diplomas while he was still in elementary school, then meeting an Army recruiter, asking him about enlisting someday, and the recruiter telling the boy that he had to have a regular HS diploma, no GED or other kind, to be in the Army. Watching that boy then throw himself into studying, him asking us to read his school books to him. He’d memorize as we read. That little boy was so determined. Not too many people ever saw that side of him, but we did. When he passed his FCAT on the first try, we knew he was going to get that HS diploma and join the Army. And, he did just that.

I try to fast-forward through the Army years whenever I reminisce on my son’s life. They were so filled with the darkness of life; the fears, the waiting, the worries, the missing him, knowing he suffered with each buddy’s death. He left us as a youngster, and returned a man; a husband, and father, and with a stronger faith in God than when he left home. He was very bruised and terribly battered, but strong, victorious, and still determined as ever. Our hero, complete with Bronze Star with Valor.

When he put himself through automotive school and became a mechanic, we were so proud of him. He had to study ten times harder than anyone else to overcome not just his old learning difficulties, but his Army related injuries as well, including constant pain, breathing problems, sleep apnea, PTS, and major short-term memory loss problems. We were relieved that he never did kill that miscreant in his class who thought it fun to sneak up behind him and drop a wrench. After graduation he landed a job with Ford and began working on diesels.

Then, to our amazement, he announced he was going to college for a Business Management degree. His determination kicked in to high gear once again. He quit his job at Ford and enrolled at Valencia. He’d go to his classes, then he would drive over to Chick-fil A to study. He studied every day, Monday through Friday and often on Saturday. For hours and hours and hours and hours. Some days, the children would join him there to bounce around in the play area while he studied. There are a lot of reasons why we love Chick-fil A, and that they happily allowed him to study there every day is right at the top of our list.

He also carved out time to get involved with his church, to join a Bible study small group, to help his friends and sister whenever they needed it, and do all the things that needed to be done in the every day course of life. Oh, yes, and become a certified NRA Firearms Safety Instructor in his “spare” time. But, mostly, he studied and did school work. He would come home at night, play with the kids, walk the dog, hug on his wife, read his Bible, collapse in bed for another sleepless night, and go back to studying again the next day.

Semester One: President’s List! Semester after semester, we celebrated as he made the President’s List again and again. Our determined little boy. He will always be that to us, even though we know he is a man, a great man, a wonderful man. We still see our little boy who loved to cuddle.

This weekend, we will watch him as he walks the stage in cap & gown and is handed his diploma. He will graduate from Valencia Community College, with honors, with an AS degree in Business Management.

Are we proud parents? With good reason! Our hearts are nearly bursting with joy! Will I be crying?

Good People Parenting

I suppose maybe it is simply because of all the negativity in the news lately, but God seems to think that I need reassurance that there truly are still good people in this world. Good parents. Good Mommas in particular.

Over the past few weeks I have been allowed to overhear some interesting parental disciplining going on, not in public, but yes, out in the public. In a shoe store. In a department store. Most recently in a grocery store parking lot. I have heard several different mommas giving wise, gentle, proper, important discipline lessons to their child – three moms all of a different race than I am, and all the children just happened to be sons.

Each time, I thought, “You GO, MOM!” They had each been trying to remain calm and be as discreet as possible, so I was not in a place where I thought it proper to actually speak to them, until today. The mom and very young son were walking in just ahead of me of me and I could hear the mother telling the child that no one OWED him anything. He needed to learn to work hard and to earn the things he wanted. Once again, I was touched by her gentle, earnest words of truth.

Once in my car, I noticed them returning. I looked at her for a moment, and our differences were clearly vast, but she was walking right past my driver’s side door, so I did it. I rolled down my window and gave this young mother a few words of affirmation. She began to smile from ear to ear. It made my day and I hope it made a positive difference in hers, too.

I know there are still good parents out there, trying to teach the children God has given them to be good people. I am thankful that God has allowed me to witness each of these young mothers in action, and I pray for all of you out there with little ones. The job of parenting is not easy and we all make mistakes, but if you are one of those parents who is taking every opportunity to teach your son to be a gentleman and your daughter to be a lady, to live generously, to work hard, to love God – I applaud you! God bless you!

A Prayer for a Family in Crisis

. . .the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control . . .” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Only a month or so ago, her life was good. Nice family, busy with children, friends, and church. Her world was painted a summertime green, and the “Faith Storehouses” of her heart and mind were properly filled with a generous supply of the Fruit of the Spirit.

In an instant, a simple knock at the door, it seemed, and her whole world changed. A tornado of evil had roared its ugly path through her world, leaving in its wake a husband imprisoned, family destroyed, friendships imploded and nothing left but desolation and devastation as far as her eyes could see. Her Storehouses were torn asunder and laid bare, and she stands with her children, in shock, wondering what the future could possibly hold now.

Her friends began praying. Then I awoke in the dark of the night, with this prayer completely formed in my mind, tumbling out into my pillowcase. I began to scribble it all down . . .

Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Father, we beseech You on her behalf, to quickly begin the process of rebuilding and restocking her Storehouses.

PEACE – Father I ask that You please open Your own personal Supply House and pour Your Peace into her life. Yours is a limitless supply of this precious commodity and she will need to have her Storehouses filled with the fresh Fruit of Your Peace during this time of storm and famine.

PATIENCE – Surround her now, Lord, with friends who bring with them baskets filled with gifts of Patience, to help restore the Fruit of Patience that she will need in her Storehouses; bring people who will bestow so much Patience on her that she will always have plenty to draw from as the demands of this stormy life try to drain her.

KINDNESS – Oh, Lord, may the people in her life, and particularly, the women of her church family draw near to her and treat her with the juicy Fruit of Kindness. May they remember the many past kindnesses she has shown them and fill her Storehouses now with their own acts of Kindness, so that she will also be able to be kind even when faced with the most horrible unkind, insensitive words and deeds imaginable being directed at her and her family.

GOODNESS – And, God, I also humbly ask that You surround her and her children with GOOD people! Teach her children that the bad actions of their father do not and cannot reflect as badness in them. Convince them that they are Your GOOD creations. Do not let one atrociously bad act define their lives. Allow them to be Good children who become Good teenagers and grow into Good adults. Fill their lives with Good people who will teach them by example. Overflow their Storehouses with an eternal supply of Good, sweet Fruit that they can feast on even in times of deepest famine.

FAITHFULNESS – Our Heavenly Father, we know YOU are faithful. You have proven repeatedly that we can depend on You in any situation. I pray now that my hurting friend remembers this truth: that no matter what, she can draw from the vast supply of her Savior’s healthy Fruit of Faithfulness. Replace and multiply the seeds of Faithfulness in her heart, that she will always know she can walk faithfully with the One Who Remains Faithful.

GENTLENESS – Her Storehouses have always overflowed with this delicious Fruit. Now she stands in this desert not of her own making, fighting an overwhelming sandstorm with no end in sight. If she ever needed to maintain a spirit of Gentleness in her soul, it is truly now. So I ask, oh, Lord, that people will treat her and her children with a God-like Gentleness. I pray that her church family will begin to produce this particular Fruit in abundance, that they will dine on it and share it generously with each member of this devastated family, including her husband. I earnestly plead that the congregation of this little church will become renown for the very Gentle way they come alongside of this family to help them survive this horrendous swirling storm.

SELF-CONTROL – This is that one Fruit that all of us who are followers of Christ need to cultivate more of in each of our lives. We are all guilty of diverse sins of the impulsive desires of our inner selfishness. This hinders our relationship with You, Heavenly Father, and with others. Help each of us to produce a bumper crop of Self-Control Fruit in our own lives, so that You can better use us to influence the un-churched and unsaved whom You wish to reach through us. We have just been presented with a clear example of how any momentary lapse in judgment, even a few seconds of unguarded selfishness can lead us into total destruction. Let us uproot all of the lack of self-control issues that we have allowed to grow like dandelion weeds in our Spiritual gardens, and strengthen our resolve to live in a righteous manner at all times.

LOVE – Return us to the first Fruit of the Spirit that You listed in Your Word for us, Love. Back when the very first spades of soil were overturned in the little garden that was to become this thriving church body, the handful of Your laborers who began that work were dreaming of a magnificent, healthy, mature Vineyard that would someday yield enormous quantities of all of the Fruit of the Spirit, especially the Fruit of Love, all for the harvest in the Kingdom of the Master.

But, somewhere along the way, Satan crept in, as he always does in every church anywhere, and planted a few small weeds. The weeds of pretense, selfishness, pride, and ignorance began to sprout. Young believers took on leadership roles that perhaps they were not called to, or were not mature enough to fill. The church feasted on baby food and toddler treats while their worship became a raucous celebration of their own activity and deliverance instead of true adoration of the One and Only Great I AM. The people have good hearts and wonderful intentions and they love You dearly. You did send mature laborers to try to help them plow and grow, to show them the deeper truths in the meat of Your Word, but they chose instead to remain in a precarious self-made bubble of happiness, filling their time with singing, and dancing in the pretty trappings of pretend holiness. Satan sees this, and dances in their midst, spreading more seeds that could easily grow to eventually choke out all the good Fruits of this beautiful little congregation so full of potential.

Now some among them feign that this devastated family has not been living right there in their midst all along. Most have completely shunned the father, and some are virtually ignoring the mother and her little ones. Some have falsely proclaimed publicly that this family left their fellowship several years ago in order to protect their own reputation. Brush it out of sight, and they can continue on inside of their happy fantasy of their own Christianity. This is not LOVE.

Help them, Father, help them to grow, to begin to chew on the meat of Your Word. Teach them to be true disciples, learn how to train up new disciples, to don the whole armor of God, and to produce the fully mature Fruit of Your Spirit. Help those mature ones in their midst rise up and take the reins of leadership, and those that need to step back do so gracefully. You have shone a light in on their darkness, now help them to see that this is an opportunity to grow stronger and healthier as a body of believers. May they not to ignore the message You are trying to reveal to them. Open their eyes, their minds and their hearts to the Love Fruit lessons You are teaching them through the terrible crisis this family from within them is now in.

JOY – Allow this horrific tornado of destruction to become a blessing in disguise; grow a field of beauty in the devastation of the turmoil that will bring a sweet smelling bouquet of Joy Fruit to this destitute family, this entire church body, and even to the many incarcerated people in our county who need to learn of Your grace and find Your mercy. Allow all involved to be filled with the unspeakable Joy from Your Supply house and allow that Joyous Fruit to overflow like a melody from within each of us.

Lord, encourage the men of the church to begin to visit this one fallen from grace during his time of imprisonment, so that he will begin to receive a steady, even daily, flow of the fresh Fruit of the Spirit. Have them pray over him and anoint him with readings from Your Holy Word. He is a broken vessel that YOU can mend and use for Your glory. May he find his redemption by sharing his story with others until he becomes a beacon of Your Light and Hope to those now living without Hope and without Christ. May the men of the church encourage and assist him to begin living the rest his life in such a manner that God can mold him into a powerful example of a Truly Passionate Follower of Jesus and that he will bring many, many lost souls to the saving knowledge of Christ. Work such a mighty miracle in his life that his children will someday be able to be proud of their daddy once again. When he reaches the end of his life may he still hear Your voice welcoming him Home with the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) Oh, what magnificent JOY!

By cultivating these precious Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, may we each produce more abundantly than ever before and reap much harvest for Your Kingdom purposes. Holy Spirit, work in us to show us where the weeds in our own gardens lie hidden and help us to remove them so that they cannot harm our lives or our harvest.

Help us to keep this family protected with a deep mulch of prayer cover and continue to invest our own Spiritual Fruit into the lives of this woman and her children and yes, even into this man who has fallen so far into sin from where he ever intended to be, so that they, and all of us, can weather the storm and be used more fully for the work You have planned for us.

In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Priceless Instant Message

Hi Mom, I love you. Can’t stay online, gotta go. Kisses!

Who would have ever thought that so few words could be so priceless! It had been nearly two weeks since anyone had heard anything from my soldier. I quickly replied to my soldier’s I.M., but already, he was off-line.

Just last night I had prayed about the level of fear that was threatening to overtake me. I don’t want to live in a constant state of extreme fear. I want to be strong, full of faith, ever-hopeful. I don’t like the “scared me.”

I had tried to keep the “No news is good news” frame of mind, but as day after day passed with no word from my soldier, fear started to win the battle.

But God heard my plea and answered my prayer. It wasn’t the length of the “conversation” that mattered; it was the peace God flooded into my soul again! He knew that I was starting to come unglued, and sent me exactly what I needed!

With a deep sigh, relieved, I pushed away from my computer, knowing that my soldier is in the care of our loving Father, and, yes, so am I!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” –1Peter 5:6 NIV

PS – I resisted the urge to change this one to the past tense, leaving it the way I originally penned it. This was after Bergdahl had walked away from his post nearby. (Same Battalion, different Company.) My son had been able to tell us about him just before they had put everyone on communications lock-down. So not knowing what was happening was pretty horrible. The next we heard was a text to his wife on July 5th (search “July 4th Attack on Zerok” on You Tube) saying “I’m OK” (he wasn’t but he was alive!) – then nothing again. (Families had to be notified.) Then, finally, my IM. . .