People Notice

My mother is a regular Facebook lurker.  I have never actually seen her post anything, but she does keep me up-to-date on a lot of people that we know.  Given these updates, it is no surprise that she looks at my Facebook.  In a recent phone call she mentioned that I had not posted about worship at my church.  Apparently, I always put something on Facebook inviting people to worship at my church.

 

This motherly observation got me to thinking.  People notice what we do and say.  They may not always voice their observations, like my mother, but they do notice.  They notice if we are not inviting them to worship.  They notice even if they do not plan to join us for worship.  They notice Facebook status updates, but they also notice our lives.  They notice if  our lives are a testimony to the faith we profess.  They notice if our lives are lived in praise of God.  They notice if we live our faith.

 

Next time you are tempted to skip doing something, remember that people notice.  People notice if you do not invite them to church.  People notice if you profess faith, but then you constantly worry.  People notice if you put more value in things than relationships.  People notice.  What are they noticing about you?

these updates, it is no surprise that she looks at my Facebook.  In a recent phone call she mentioned that I had not posted about worship at my church.  Apparently, I always put something on Facebook inviting people to worship at my church.

 

This motherly observation got me to thinking.  People notice what we do and say.  They may not always voice their observations, like my mother, but they do notice.  They notice if we are not inviting them to worship.  They notice even if they do not plan to join us for worship.  They notice Facebook status updates, but they also notice our lives.  They notice if  our lives are a testimony to the faith we profess.  They notice if our lives are lived in praise of God.  They notice if we live our faith.

 

Next time you are tempted to skip doing something, remember that people notice.  People notice if you do not invite them to church.  People notice if you profess faith, but then you constantly worry.  People notice if you put more value in things than relationships.  People notice.  What are they noticing about you?

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Home is Where Your Heart Is

The Home Place

My family’s home-place burned down this week.  It has been unoccupied for several years, so no one was physically injured.    I suspect, based on various comments seen on Facebook, that I am not the only one who was sad to hear the news.  The house was built by an ancestor, and it was added onto by more family.  While we are sad to lose a building, I think we are more sad to lose the place that holds memories.

 

It is the place where children  played.  It is the place where that held memories of simple times, ordinary activities.  It was a place where all of us experienced joy and love.  It was a safe place where we experienced what it was to belong to an extended family.  It was a place where we all belonged.

 

This is something that the church is supposed to be as well.  It is to be a place where children can feel safe, loved, and accepted.  It is a place where we are all welcomed, fed, and nurtured.  It is a place where we work together, learn who we are in relation to others, and learn how to love.  It is a place created more by the events and relationships that occur in the place rather than by the ambience of the building.  We, modern-day disciples, are called to make the buildings the  home-place of God.

 

I am grateful for all the memories that made the family home-place such a wonderful memory.  I thank God for cousins who carried piggy-back during hide-and-seek games in the cornfields, hand-cranked ice cream, kittens, Scuppernong grapes, woods to be explored, and a family who loved and accepted each other.  May we all know what it is to have a home place as the family of God.

happy

Happy...photo © 2010 Jan Smith | more info (via: Wylio)There are people who seem to be bubbling over with happiness. Wow, I think to myself as I read their Facebook posts, talk with them on the phone, run into them at the grocery story, or read their tweets. Are they really that happy? Maybe I am not happy enough. The general consensus used to be that we really could not do much to be happier. It was just something that we had to deal with inour lives. We weither were or were not happy, and there was no sense trying to be something we were not.

New research suggests that this is incorrect. While some may be more predisposed to happiness than others, there are things we can to in order to be happier. A study of 60,000 adults, published in 2009 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that genes were responsible for only a portion of a person’s sense of well-being. “Life goals and choices have as much or more impact on happiness,” wrote researcher Bruce Headey, an associate professor and a principal fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, in Australia. Lyubomirsky takes it one step further: Of the approximately 50 percent of our happiness that isn’t biologically driven, she says, 10 percent is connected to life circumstances (you’re beautiful, say, or uniquely talented). But that leaves 40 percent unaccounted for—and up to us to shape. (Pasted from  <http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/inspiration-motivation/the-science-of-happiness-00000000050227/index.html?xid=dailynews-07-05-2011> )

It is possible to be happier. We can bring about change in our general well being and contentment with life. We know that happier people tend to make more, live longer, and have stronger immune systems, so there are definite reasons to pursue our own happiness. Leslie Pepper on http://www.realsimple.com shares 3 keys to making ourselves happier. First, do things that have made you happy in the past. Second, immerse yourself in what you are doing. Third, do something for the larger purpose. All of these can be accomplished when we care for our spirit. It seems that while we are trying to positively affect our emotional well being, what we need to be doing is caring for our spirits. As we care for our spiritual selves, there is high probability we will be happier.

When we worship God, we are called to offer our whole selves in worship, whether that be singing our praises, sitting in the presence of God, or sharing our hearts with God. We are called to allow the activity to be our focus. We are also encouraged to worship God in a way that connects with our preferences and comfort levels. Finally, worship calls us to care for others. Worshipping God is not just an activity of the heart and mind. Rather, our worship calls us to go and share with the world.

If you want greater happiness, it probably won’t be found in material things. Those material pleasures seem to fade after a while. Rather it is when we are living out our spirituality, worshipping God, we find happiness. Jesus offered us this opportunity for living in a new way we He was on earth. He invited the disciples to be fishers of men. He encouraged a life of balance. He shared in fellowship with others. He cared for others. We are called to follow his example for the sake of the kingdom. As we follow his example, we will find happiness.

Wise Words

Most of us have at least a few Facebook friends who share way too much information.  They are sharing way too much for us to be comfortable.  One friend of mine seems to use her Facebook posts to vent her frustrations with all of the little things that disturb and disrupt.  While she is doing this on Facebook, there are many others that publicly vent their frustrations to anyone who will listen.  You are familiar with the pattern.  On Facebook, you hear about all of the negative things that happen in people’s daily lives, such as their frustrations with strangers, traffic, and co-workers.  In life, you also hear the same frustrations.  They are mad at the doctor who made them wait 45 minutes, the waiter at the restaurant who repeatedly forgot cream for the coffee, and so on.
 
Most of us have probably been guilty of this negative venting or whining from time to time.  I know that I have.  Whenever it happens, I feel badly afterwards, because I realize that I was not adding to others’ days.  Instead, I was unloading all of my negative energy onto them, and expecting them to carry some of it around.  Yes, there are times when we all have problems, people, and situations, and we need to analyze and deal with the negative feelings that arise in us.  That is when we send a direct message or have a cup of coffee with an understanding friend.  We need to have someone who can listen and advise on how to move beyond the negative feelings.  We don’t need to continue to just put our negative ideas out into the world.
 
Take the time to consider what you are saying, how it will affect others, and what you hope to do by sharing.  Sharing the small, seemingly insignificant details of our day can bring us closer to others and invite relationship, but we have to decide which details we want to share.  It may be that we have grown so accustomed to looking at the negatives at our day that we cannot even see the positives to share.
 
For example, I could tell you all about the allergy and sinus issues I am having.  I could tell you about not being able to hear anything and feeling like my head is full of cotton.  I could give graphic detail to the amount of tissues and cough drops required to get through my day.  I could go on and explain the weak blood vessel that means sinus issues always turn into bloody noses.  I could go on and on about just how lousy I feel at the moment.
 
Or, I could look for and elaborate on the positives.  I could tell you how blessed I am that my family let me sleep in this morning.  I could tell you what a blessing it is that I have a job that sometimes allows me to sleep late, and that today I was able to sleep until I woke up.  I could tell you how grateful I am for over-the-counter medications that are able to provide me some temporary relief.  I could tell you how grateful I am that my most significant medical issues are allergies and sinuses. 
 
If I focus on the difficulties, then they seem to grow larger.  If I focus on the positives, then they grow larger.  It is up to us what we focus on and what we share.  So the next time you are going to post or have a conversation, consider your purpose and the effects of your words.  Your words affect the people around you and yourself, so choose wise words.