Tag Archives: social media

bragging rights

Melissa Yeager, Co-Author of awriteheart.comFour years ago a group of seven other people and myself decided we should try to do the Tough Mudder, which for those of you who aren’t familiar is a 12 mile long military-style obstacle course. It entails what you might think of as “normal” obstacles – like scaling 12-foot walls, army crawling under barbed wire, and jumping from three stories into water…But there were also what I consider to be the “extreme” obstacles, like jumping into ice water and running through hundreds of dangling live wires that electrocuted us as we ran through them. We trained for ten months (we didn’t practice the electrocution part!), and in September of 2012 our team traveled to Maryland and completed our race.
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Our particular race had two electrocution obstacles – one that I described above, and another which I think was way worse. I started through the obstacle and thought that it wasn’t too bad, but then I heard the sound of a grown man screaming…and I knew I was in trouble. I got through, after being thrown around by the travelling current of electricity, and that man that I had heard was still standing there waiting for the rest of his team. I looked at him and shook my head and said, “We PAID for this!” and we laughed at the irony.

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Why DO people pay for those races? Why do they subject themselves to the torture? I’ll give you two words: bragging rights. Sure, our team wanted to accomplish the feat of finishing, and it was fun to do it was a team. It was great to be in the best shape of our lives. But an equal component of us wanting to do that race was bragging rights. When I wear my Tough Mudder finisher shirt outside my house I can be sure that most of the time I will get a few glances, if not a full blown conversation. People are intrigued by a person who would do that to themselves on purpose, and so it gets attention. The race is far gone now and I’m kind of over it…but at first it was really fun to talk about it with random people.

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This gets me thinking about all of the things we do in front of other people in terms of serving and obeying God, and about our motives. We serve and take selfies of ourselves doing it…We post quotes and verses on Facebook that we read…We share stories about what our kids say about God or church or heaven. We make our walk with God public, which in many ways is a very good thing, but we need to be careful that we are directing others to who GOD is instead of to who WE are. I like to underline what I think are great passages in books and then take a picture and post it – but I wonder if that’s more for God or for me and my image? Am I bragging on Him because of something great that He showed me, or am I bragging on myself for reading it? I need to be careful.

At some point in all of our walks with Jesus, there must be the realization that we cannot do anything good without Him. The truth is that we can’t do ANYTHING without Him, because it is He whose will holds us together. The sin of others should pale in comparison to what we know is in our own hearts, and because we CANNOT save ourselves in any capacity, we should be humbled and broken before our Holy God. And the bragging rights fade.

As we live our lives for Christ “out loud” as a reader so aptly put it recently, we need always to consider who we are bragging upon.
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We are lost, and our Lord Jesus finds us.
We are blind, and He gives us sight.
We are sinners, but He is good.
We are in need, and He is our provider.
We are guilty, and He is our defense.
We deserve punishment, but He is merciful.
We are hungry, and He is the Bread of Life.
We are weak, and He is our strength.
We walk in darkness, and He is our light.
We are wavering, and He is our Rock.
We feel alone, but we can be assured that He is with us.
We strive for more, but He is enough.
He is EVERYTHING.

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Brag on Jesus, because all of the good in you is HIM in you.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]For HIS glory, Melissa[/custom_headline]

six things we must remember in an argument

Melissa @ awriteheart.comSince last week’s Supreme Court decision about gay marriage, I’ve read and heard a LOT of debate…Unfortunately the vast majority of those discussions ended poorly or without resolution. As I’ve continued to read and listen to these dialogues, a few thoughts have come to mind that I believe we must remember when arguing or debating with someone. Whether it’s an online discussion or an argument with our spouse, remembering these principles can help us keep the peace even when we can’t agree.

Your “opponent” actually believes what they’re saying.

The person who is so adamantly opposed to your viewpoint, whether that’s your husband or some online stranger who thinks your opinion is too extreme, really truly believes what they are expressing to you. They believe it with the same passion and vigor that you have for your own opinion. We tend to think that those with opposing views haven’t thought out their opinions, and are just argumentative people looking for a fight – and sometimes that IS the case. But most people hold their opinions for a reason, and can substantiate why they think and feel the way they do. They aren’t unintelligent, they aren’t necessarily uninformed, they aren’t crazy, and most of the time they aren’t intentionally trying to oppress anyone…They just happen to disagree.

There may be angles that you haven’t explored – and that’s ok.

In any argument, we all are hesitant to admit when we’re unprepared or can’t defend ourselves…but in truth, everyone is unprepared for what could be said. It isn’t always the worst thing to tell a person that you don’t know the answer to a question, or that they brought up a good point that you never considered. Conversations can be continued after you’ve done more research, or after you’ve thoughtfully considered new points of view. Being defensive about someone’s thoughtful conclusions won’t win anyone over – so in humility, be willing to concede that you haven’t thought of everything.

People can believe whatever they want – and that’s a good thing.

This is America, right? Unless you’re reading from a place that doesn’t allow citizens the freedom to speak and believe what they want, no one is obligated to believe as you do – and that is something to be thankful for. God gave us freedom to choose, right from the time that He created us, and we can’t take that freedom from others. As well-intentioned as we might be trying to “convert” people to what we believe is the right way of thinking, it isn’t our job to change anyone’s mind or heart.

Listening well goes a long way.

5 things to remember in an argumentThink about the last time you had a heated discussion with someone. While the other person was talking or writing, were you thinking about the next thing you were going to say? So many times, our lack of willingness to stop and listen prevents us from  hearing where another person is coming from, and all we do is reiterate our own opinions over and over instead of having a real dialogue. Understanding someone’s point of view is valuable even if you don’t agree with it, and the person on the other end of the debate will be more likely to feel as though you respect them if you conscientiously listen to and acknowledge their side.

Social media and texting are not ideal for having an actual conversation.

How many times can I say this…Social media and texting are not ideal for having an actual conversation! Humor, sarcasm, compassion, kindness, sadness – all of those are difficult to convey by written word, and it’s easy to misread someone’s tone or miscommunicate your own thoughts and feelings. Too short a response can be read as aggressive…No response can be read as passive-aggressive…Too long a response can be read as controlling…Too long between responses can be read as uncaring…Too many responses can be read as overbearing. We make some pretty sweeping assumptions based on how and when others respond. So be careful debating or arguing online or over text massages…And if possible, just take the person out for coffee and talk it out.

Love for God and for others is your obligation, even if the conflict remains unresolved.

My pastor mentioned something this past week that really stuck with me – we aren’t supposed to be a balance of grace and truth…We as Christians are supposed to be FULL of grace and FULL of truth. That’s how the Bible describes Jesus in John 1:14 – He was 100% grace, and 100% truth. So no matter what the argument is about, be like Christ when you write and talk to others about things you disagree on. Rarely did Jesus exhibit anger toward others – and when He did, it was because of hypocrisy or oppression of those in need. He also never chased anyone down to make sure they did what they were supposed to. He told them the truth in love, and then allowed them to make their own life choices. Following His lead takes the pressure off of us, and leaves it to the Holy Spirit to change someone’s heart…And that’s how it should be.

Arguments and debates are often unavoidable, but we can take steps to work toward a peaceful ending. It’s possible to disagree while maintaining a positive tone. Romans 12:9-12 calls us to do our best to live at peace, and with God’s help we can!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]In His perfect peace, Melissa[/custom_headline]

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With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! The first thing in Colette’s basket is…GODIVA CHOCOLATES! Read our next post to see what she’ll add next!
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Featured image attribution: flickr photo by pj_vanf http://flickr.com/photos/vanf/6124579928 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

three things that social media steals from us

Kate Foster - guest bloggerThere’s this thief I know. Every day I open my doors, lay out the welcome mat and let him waltz into my home. He doesn’t go for my jewelry, look for my laptop or rummage through my drawers. He goes straight for my mind. He binds me up and takes me hostage. He flaunts his successes and parades his achievements. He isn’t purposefully malicious, but he reminds me of my shortcomings and magnifies my flaws. His source of information always seems to be new and fresh. When the day’s done, he releases me and walks out of my house. I turn off the lights, lock the doors, kiss my husband goodnight, and go to sleep. The next morning I wake up, brew some coffee, unlock my doors, and let that thief do his work again. The cycle continues and I welcome it. The thief is my friend. My choice. My daily companion.

The thief is small, I can carry him with me. All day. EVERYDAY. If I was totally honest, in my heart of hearts, I’d admit I don’t think I could live without him. I’m attached no matter how much he distracts me or how small he makes me feel.

This thief that threatens my joy is named social media.

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media. I love drawing inspiration from other photographers and bloggers on Instagram, seeing birth announcements on Facebook, creating dream houses and wardrobes on Pinterest, and catching up with old friends. We are accessible EVERYWHERE. We have tablets, smart phones, laptops and wifi at almost every restaurant, store and work place. You don’t have to search for it. We are always plugged in. Connected. Peering into the life windows of friends and strangers at just the click of a button. Social media is amazing, but if you’re not careful, it can open the door of your mind to thieves. Thieves that steal things a lot more valuable than appliances or jewels. My iphone has been my teacher lately, and here are three things I’ve seen this thief, left unguarded, steal from me.

Joy

Comparison is an acid. It eats away at our self-worth until there’s nothing left. We place ourselves in recliners and press play to the highlight reels of thousands of peoples lives. My feed is full of moms with perfect children, brand new outfits, glorious hair and Pinterest homes. One friend has a husband who surprises her with personalized love notes written in candles nightly, while another always seems to be a step ahead on the corporate ladder. We compare our mundane daily tasks to the live feed of edited and carefully selected photos of the best moments of someone’s life. It’s easy to forget that behind the picture is a life. A person. A person who isn’t untouched by life’s ups and downs. Immersing ourselves into others happiness can set the perfect arena for wallowing in self pity if we aren’t vigilant. Don’t compare someone’s chapter 10 to your chapter 1. Count your blessings instead. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning.

Time

the thief we call social mediaI’m always connected. How many memories, opportunities, and hours have I wasted? Forever gone. I’m embarrassed to even try to calculate it. These are waters I’m still learning to navigate. Time is precious, and social media isn’t evil…it’s a balance. I have seen blogs help mend broken hearts, stay at home moms start their own thriving small businesses, and my life has personally been saved on a daily basis by Pinterest and its mind blowing archives full of recipes. The resource is invaluable. The important thing is to be all there, WHEREVER you are. Live in the moment. The newsfeed will be there tomorrow, but the moments will not.

Confidence

Constantly being connected to hundreds of people and subjecting yourselves to their opinions and advice can have positive and negative effects. Living your life on a stage in front of your peers is something new to this generation. We have never been so accessible, so widespread. When we expose ourselves we can expect people to make mistakes, to say things they don’t think through. We open ourselves up to more opportunities to get hurt and to make thoughtless mistakes ourselves. It’s easy to judge our worth and popularity based on how many “likes” we get or how many “followers” we have. Our sense of self worth is tied up in what others think, and when those expectations aren’t met we can get shaken. We doubt ourselves. It’s so easy to get lost in the sea of people and forget whose opinion matters.

Everything in life comes with a warning label. Even the best things come with the possibility of a negative side effect. Social media is everywhere. We can’t ignore it or run from it. I choose to embrace it. I embrace it knowing its ups and downs. The thief can lose his power over me when I gain an understanding of how he works. I have to know myself. Set guidelines and ask for accountability. This week I had too much. I was feeling inadequate and struggling with my thoughts. I finally just handed my phone to my husband and told him to hide it. I know myself, and know what things trigger me. I am responsible for me and have to know how guard myself. So what are a few things I can do to keep this thief from stealing?

Use social media as a platform for good.

Encourage one another, cheer each other on. You never know who is watching. Make your wall your ministry. Hide friends who focus on negative controversial articles. Choose friends who share truth and speak encouragement over your life. BE ALL THERE. Wherever you are. If you feel yourself getting bogged down, UNPLUG. Put your phone away. Grab a book. Take a walk. In the pages of the Bible, remind yourself who you are and what God thinks you are worth.

I have a journal I keep for when I need a boost. Hope. I call it “Letters from Abba.” Using Scripture, I write notes to myself straight from the heart of my Father. I’d like to share this one with you based on Psalms 42.

My daughter,
Look to me. Sit at my feet. Let me sing over you the song of my goodness. Don’t forget My faithfulness to you throughout your whole life. My protection, guidance, deliverance, blessings; all of it. Your soul thirsts for Me. Good. Seek me. I am here. I haven’t wandered off. When the waves and billows compass you, HOPE IN ME. Quiet your noisy soul. I am in the rain, the fog, the waves, the noise. Hold out your hand and walk towards my voice. I’ve got you. I love you. It is only in Me you can find your worth.Your title and accomplishments don’t matter. Your value comes from the fact that I want you. It has nothing to do with you or what you do. It’s all about Me. Your heart is worth My blood, My life. Don’t let others play with it or abuse it. Guard it. Protect it. I spent my last breath on it. You are loved. You are worth it. You are Mine.
~Abba

Social media is a subject that isn’t new. It isn’t some break through, but it’s where I find myself now. These past few weeks I have been reminded that I have control over who I allow into my mind. I don’t want this thief to be allowed to steal my joy, time and confidence. I want to use this gift to be a blessing to others, and I hope you do too. Never forget, you are more than just a screen name.
[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]@katelynjoyfoster[/custom_headline]

Kate Foster is 23 from Rochester, NY and recently moved to Athens, MI. She is a lover of Jesus, her husband Ethan and dark chocolate. She dabbles in many things but enjoys crafting, decorating, and photography. Visit  Foster Happiness, Kate’s Etsy shop, and Kate Foster Photography to see some of her work!  Also visit her Jamberry site!

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Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from our guest blogger, Kate! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just click HERE and we’ll do the work for you!

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giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes a Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

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hidden obsessions

Melissa @ awriteheart.comMy pre-teen daughter bought an iPod with money she saved from Christmas. She was SO excited – a device that could TEXT! And then she decided to take it into the bathroom. Down one iPod. Her dad showed grace and bought her a new one, this time with an Apple Care plan. And then she left the iPod at school. We found it, thankfully, but there was a lot of panic associated with its loss. This iPod is one of the first things that she has owned that she feels like she can’t live without.

There are plenty of things that we adults think we can’t live without, even though we’d never admit it. Ever try to take a break from social media? Some people still have chosen to stay off Facebook, Twitter, Instagrahidden obsessionsm, and Pinterest, but the vast majority of us are on one or more of them daily…or multiple times daily…or a shameful number of times daily. My current obsession is to repeatedly check the WordPress and Facebook statistics for this blog…It’s addicting to watch the numbers of people reading, the ‘likes”, the comments, and the subscriptions. There have been days when I had forced myself to stop looking.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites built themselves a golden calf to worship while they waited for Moses to come down from the mountain. Just like them, we are waiting – waiting for Jesus to come back. Meanwhile, we don’t even have to build our own idols – they’re built for us…And unlike the golden calf, our idols often fit into our pockets, or aren’t visible at all. Our idols have functions that are good AND bad, so they look very little like idols at all. Here are just a few of the areas of our lives that we can hold in higher esteem than God.

The idol of connectedness

Keeping in touch with those that we know and care about is a good thing, and it gives us ample opportunity to love and be loved. These are gifts! But when that gift overwhelms our lives, and becomes a minute-to-minute need, we risk putting God in second place. Facebook specifically reminds me of what God wants from us – He wants a constant feed of what we do and how we feel, so that He can give us what we need in return. He wants our fulfillment to come from Him, instead of from likes, shares, texts, and Retweets.

The idol of health and wellness

hidden obsessionsWhile we do need to be good stewards of the bodies God gave to each of us, if our time, money and conversation are disproportionally revolving around our bodies, we will revere our bodies more than we revere God. Gym memberships, hair appointments, running shoes, and organic veggies are good things unless they detract from serving and giving to God.

The idol of relaxation and entertainment

First-world culture is unique in that we have recreational time outside of work and home responsibilities, and we feel entitled to that time. We get grumpy when we don’t get “me time”, and our bad behavior can be explained away when we don’t get it.

The idol of knowledge

Knowledge is something that God wants us to strive for – He wants us to know His word, and to understand what He teaches us there. He wants us to know HIM! But the Bible is very clear about what happens when knowledge becomes our primary focus – we become prideful! If we study but don’t spend intentional time applying our knowledge, it becomes a source of our self-worship instead of our growth.

The idol of politics and social activism

Lots of us have a cause that touches us – mine is human trafficking, and yours might be the right-to-life movement, animal rescue, or the conservative party. Like almost all of our hidden idols, causes can be a good, good thing. But if we find ourselves trying to convert more people to our cause than to our Savior, the cause overshadows the One who should inspire our passions.

How can you know if these good things are idols? Honestly evaluate your time, your money, and your focus . If you spend excessive time on something and neglect God-given responsibilities, you have an idol. If something unnecessary keeps you from giving monetarily to God, you have an idol. If people know you more by your political leanings than by your faith, you have an idol. If sin is your reaction to not having or getting a particular thing, you’ve got an idol.

Exodus 34:14 tells us that our God is a jealous God, and He wants every little part of your heart – He wants to reign in you! He suffered so that we can be free from the bondage of sin! If you see idols in your life, don’t be discouraged! Turn from those idols and replace them with obedience to the God who is in pursuit of your heart. Like my daughter and her iPod, we all need to look at how much we love the gifts that we have received. Remember that our God deserves more attention and accolades than any of the great gifts that He gives!

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