Stumbles

This weekend we have the pleasure to have our two grandbabies over for “sleep-overs” when their parents go to a conference out of town.  It will be the first time I have BOTH my “babies” overnight and I’m a little excited!  That said, I also know it will be an exhausting weekend.  I’m just not as young as I used to be…I can admit that!

Last week, my grandson was over for a few hours and his three year old giggles and grins just melted my heart.  My husband thought it would be fun to throw a big float toy into our pool and tow Jaxon around so he could pretend he was a pirate on a boat.  “Again!  Again!” he yelled at my husband as my husband pulled the rope to tow him around the pool.  Jaxon would have played that game for hours but my husband petered out.  He’s not as young as he used to be, but he won’t admit that:)

Our house has always been a place of giggles and splashes!  We have an indoor pool that served for a time as our church’s baptistery before our church had its own building.  I often remark that the water is “Holy” water.  We’ve hosted birthday parties and youth pool parties, grad parties and my son even got tossed in the pool by his buddies at his engagement party!  It’s not really a party until someone gets tossed in the pool I guess.

Several years ago my youngest daughter, Carmen and two of her friends were doing an assignment for school that required a video camera, a pair of “magic” flip flops, and a willingness to fall into the pool.  The premise for the project was to do a commercial for a product not yet invented.  The three fourteen year old girls had at first decided to invent an “Invisi Boy”…an invisible…and so perfect…boyfriend.  They decided against the idea when they realized he was too hard to invision!  Hahahaha!

I gave a suggestion to them, knowing how my youngest child Carmen had (still has) a propensity to trip over anything and everything, that they should “invent” a pair of shoes that when they wear them they immediately become “graceful”.  That seemed to go over extremely well, especially when they started to think about how funny filming the pratfalls would be.  Of course it was my Carmen who thought about using the pool as a greatest pratfall prop.  She immediately volunteered herself to be filmed “accidentally” falling into the pool because of her extreme clumsiness.  I think they had to do at least fifty takes to get the action just right.  Poor, poor water-logged Carmen!

They chose a pair of flip flops to be the miraculous transforming shoes to give them grace whenever they put them on.  Again, their first choice was a pair of high heels but Carmen vetoed that idea immediately realizing the chances of her appearing “graceful” in heels was slim.  She stood more of a chance in flip flops!

And so for the next two hours all I heard was splashing and giggles and on occasion uproarious laughter from the three girls.  Kaylee, the videographer capturing the wild antics of Carmen and Breeana as they “acted” in the commercial.  I never did see the final edit, but no doubt it was hilarious!

I actually tripped over a pair of Carmen’s flip flops this morning in the front entranceway and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud remembering how ones like these were supposed to be the “magically transforming graceful shoes” from yesteryear.  As I picked them up and put them safely back in the front closet I was reminded of the many stumbles I have taken in life.

How many times have I tripped up?  How often have I tried to go my own way, trying to balance precariously on shaky footing only to trip and do what I call an “epic fail”?  My epic fails may not be seen on YouTube, but I am very aware that I have an audience and at times that causes me great shame.  God watches me and He sees me when I fall, mess up, and face-plant in the dirt.   Yet He does not leave me in the dust.  He kindly rebukes me for trying to walk the path of life on my own and then His Love transforms me!

So I stumbled upon this scripture this morning: “See I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  Romans 9:33

Now if I can just prevent one of the grandbabies this weekend from pushing me into the pool!

The Author of Life

Once upon a timeMy house is slowly but surely crumbling into disarray.  I see dust bunnies scurrying with wild abandon under my coffee table only to gather in little “burrows” in every corner of my room.  My foster pup, Samson, hasn’t been put out in hours…his little feet are pitter pattering on the floor…he’s trying to get my attention.  Does he want to play or is he desperate to relieve himself?  I haven’t put on my makeup, brushed my hair…gasp…I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet!  I haven’t washed the dishes in the sink, or thought about what to make for supper and I haven’t set foot outside in days.  Was this the life I pictured when I decided to write books?

I am buried in the plot created in my own mind.  I can’t let it go.  When I sleep I think about it, when I am awake I think about it.  I have created a world of characters that have become real to me…I’ve even thought I should see if they have profiles on Facebook.  That’s how real they seem.  I have seen the inside of their homes, I have met their parents, I know their thoughts and I know what they are feeling.  I feel like I know them better than my own children at times because I know what they will say or do before they say it or do it, and if I don’t like it I can change their actions by a simple use of a delete or backspace key.

It is the oddest feeling of supernatural power being a fiction writer.  I can make the characters be good, evil, mute, emotional, dull, irresponsible or responsible.  I have ultimate power over their actions….mwhuuuuhahaha….I feel almost…divine!!

It’s a scary thing this power!

I am so happy that I am limited to enact this “divine power” in the somewhat safety confines of the pages of a book.     What would the world be like if I had this kind of influence, if I had this kind of absolute power over real people I came into contact with every day?  If I made a mistake that destroyed their character I couldn’t just delete the words or backspace for a do over.

Today I rediscovered Psalm 139, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways….I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I may consider myself to be a writer but He is the Author of Life!  He leads us, He directs our steps, He loves us and He weeps for us when we go our own way.  He also never makes mistakes!  (Psalm 145:17)  God does not use delete on us, (even if sometimes our actions may deserve it), instead He picks up the storyline, exactly where we may have left it and helps us rewrite the plot, not so we get the glory but so that He does!

So while I continue to fumble for the correct words and phrases to use as I write Heal the Wounded, the sequel to Shoot the Wounded, and erase and backspace to my heart’s content until the characters and plot line are just right, I am thankful that the Lord perfected MY LIFE STORY from the beginning of time.  “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

(This post was originally published on March 9, 2010 and won a Canadian Christian Writing Award that year.)

Since that posting, I not only finished the sequel Heal the Wounded to my debut novel Shoot the Wounded, but wrote and published the final book in the Wounded Trilogy, Love the Wounded

Even though I walk through the valley…

Comox ValleyOne of the most beautiful places to visit is the Comox Valley in B.C.  My husband grew up there and we return year after year to spend time with his family.  Comox means “Place of Plenty” and the description is an apt one.  One of the most picturesque sites is overlooking the valley from the Back Road.  The view is spectacular with the mountains and glacier as the backdrop, the ocean to the left, and the green, fertile farmland below.  Certainly we Alberta landlubbers are drawn to the ocean, and we appreciate the mountains, but the valley is the heartbeat of Comox.  Locals shop in the “valley”, farm in the “valley”, go to school and work in the “valley”.  The people may look to the hills and to the ocean, but they tend to do the majority of their living in the “valley”.

Driving around Comox, there are sights and sounds in the valley that overwhelm the senses.  From the cacophonic honks of Trumpeter Swans nesting in the lowlands to the shrill peal of Eagles circling overhead, not to mention the routine drone of air force planes taking off and landing at the Comox air base, it is a thrilling natural and unnatural orchestra of sound that emanates in and around the valley.  The gardens are plush, the farmland is fruitful.  Truly it is a peaceful place, if one only takes time to appreciate it.

When we think of valleys in life though, we do not associate them with beauty but with heartache.  Valleys are places to be avoided, or to walk through quickly.  Our sights are always set on the mountaintop experiences, never on the valleys.  Valleys are associated with suffering and grief.  “Vale of tears” is a phrase that refers to Earthly sorrows that are left behind when one enters heaven.  “Vale” means a valley or a dale.  The expression hearkens to the 23rd Psalm with reference to the “valley of the shadow of death”.  When we grieve, we are in a “dark valley”, when we rejoice we are “on top of the world”.

So let’s contrast the “top of the world” with the “valley” for a moment.  I have observed that when I am in the Comox Valley my eye is constantly drawn to Mount Washington.  I have been told that the skiing there is fantastic, and it is supposedly the second busiest winter recreation destination in B.C. just behind the Whistler/Blackcomb resort.    The thing is, despite having visited Comox for over thirty years, I have yet to visit Mount Washington.  I have been told that the view of the Comox Valley from Mount Washington is absolutely spectacular, which leads me to deduce that those who have been up to that mountain top spend a lot of time looking down at the valley.  So I can’t help getting a little philosophical here.  When we’re in the valley we look up, and when we’re on the mountain we look down.  Am I right?

As a Christian I have done that repeatedly.  In the valley I looked Up and when on the mountain I looked down.  How many times have I cried out to the Lord, “Help!  Get me out of this deep valley!  Rescue me!”  I don’t want to stay in the valley; I want to be on the mountain.  I have often mistaken the mountaintop experience as being closer to God somehow.  And yet some of the most beautiful encounters I’ve had with God have happened right there in the valley.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”  I look up to God and I discover that He is right there in the valley with me and I am comforted.   I have also noticed that the times I am “on top of the world” a kind of self-sufficiency comes over me and I forget Who it was that guided me over all those rocky places as I climbed out of the valley.  The “rod and staff” are not as necessary at the top of the mountain and rather than feel closer to God I have a tendency to look longingly down because it was there in the valley that I feel the closest to Him.

It is not by accident that the Psalmist paints a word picture of the Good Shepherd leading His flock of sheep through a valley.  It was common practice then as it is now for a shepherd to guide his flock to prime grazing grounds.  The shepherd allowed the sheep to feed and quench their thirst in the streams there for a while and then would guide them up the slopes and over the rocky terrain to the next pasture ensuring that there was always an abundance of food for the herd.  But traveling from valley pasture to the next meant negotiating through narrow ravines or wadis, or journeying over rocky and dangerous terrain.  It required the sheep to not run ahead of the shepherd.  The shepherd was the guide, he determined the path and direction, to stray from the path could prove destructive for the sheep.  Likewise it was the shepherd who determined how long the sheep would stay in the valley.  Once he felt they had been sufficiently nourished, he would guide them on to the next pasture.  He would help the sheep traverse the slopes out of the valley but he would not linger long on the mountaintops because of the scarcity of food there for his sheep.  Although the sheep may have enjoyed the view from the mountain and preferred not to have to negotiate the rough terrain leading down to the next valley, the shepherd knew that it was in the valleys that he would be able to adequately feed and prepare his flock for the next journey ahead of them.

It is also interesting to note that the Psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley…”  It does not say, run, skip, jump or rush.  The journey from valley to valley for the sheep is not a time of running quickly through one just to get to the next pasture.  Time is spent being nourished and cared for by the shepherd at each destination for as long as the shepherd decides before moving on to the next pasture.  It is also not a place to stop and set up camp indefinitely.  Walk “through” the valley, means just that.  It is something to be experienced and then move on when the shepherd signals to move on.

My family and I are walking through one of those “valleys” right now.  Notice I say we’re “walking through“, we’re not rushing through it, nor are we going to camp here indefinitely.  We’re walking through, taking our time, being comforted by the Good Shepherd, and we’ll move on when He says move on.  Until such time, we will take nourishment from Him here in the valley, and though our eyes may stray to the mountain from time to time, we will find rest and comfort here for now.  “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

 

(Originally posted on February 9, 2010 – “Even though I walk through the valley” was the winner of a Canadian Christian Writing Award that year.)

 

Married for Life

Song of Solomon 2 16There is a tendency amongst young people today to try out relationships.  What I mean by that is rather than pray to the Lord to direct them to the right person to share their life with for life, they have a “hit and miss” attitude, going from relationship to relationship until somehow they stumble upon a “match” and may or may not make a less than “life-long” commitment then.

According to Statistics Canada:

“During the 50-year period from 1961 to 2011 which corresponded with the censuses of population, considerable social and economic changes occurred in Canada that influenced evolving family dynamics.

The early 1960s was near the end of the baby-boom period (1946 to 1965), when many people married at a fairly young age and had relatively large families. By the end of the 1960s, events such as the legalization of the birth control pill, the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce, as well as the growing participation of women in higher education and in the paid labour force may have contributed to delayed family formation, smaller family size and an increased diversity of family structures.”

The alarming stats are that in 1961, married couples accounted for 91.6% of census families but by 2011, this proportion had declined to 67.0%. This decrease was mostly a result of the growth of common-law couples.  While the number of married couples rose 19.7% over the 30-year period between 1981 and 2011, the number of common-law couples more than quadrupled (+345.2%).  In 2011, lone-parent families represented 16.3% of all census families. This was almost double the share of 8.4% in 1961 when relatively more childbearing took place within marriage and divorce rates were lower.

“The predominant census family structure in 2011 was married couples, although they continued to decrease as a share of all families. In the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011, married couples dropped from 70.5% to 67.0% of all census families. In contrast, the proportion of census families that were common-law increased from 13.8% to 16.7% during the same period. For the first time in 2011, the number of common-law couples (1,567,910) surpassed the number of lone-parent families (1,527,840).” (Stats Canada)

“After a change to the Divorce Act in 1986 that allowed divorces after only one year of separation (instead of three years before), the total divorce rate in 1987 reached a high of 506 divorces per 1,000 marriages. This means that of marriages which took place in 1987, 50.6% were projected to end in divorce before their thirtieth anniversary.

Since the end of the 1980’s, the percentage has fluctuated between 35% and 42%. In 2008, 40.7% of marriages in Canada were projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary.”

I’m not a statistician but just looking at the numbers would indicate that in Canada at least, marriage is fast becoming a failing institution.  There is no longer a mind-set amongst people to marry for life if at all.  They would rather live together rather than say “I do” and there is a walk-away mindset when a relationship does not work out.  Common-law “marriages” are on the rise, as are single-parent families, divorce rates (even amongst Christian couples) shows that nearly 50% of all marriages in Canada end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary.  That is staggering and so very, very sad!

According to the stats, my husband and I have bucked the trend.  Today marks our 35th wedding anniversary and I am praying to the Lord that we have another thirty-five years together (or more)!

Someone asked what our “secret” was.  How do we stayed married for life?  Not sure it’s a secret at all, but I’ll share what I know:

1.  “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9  (That has been our life verse.  In everything, in every decision, every conversation, family activity, …EVERYTHING…God is in control.  HE directs our steps.  We are submissive to His leading.)

2.  There is a mutual respect and concern for one another.  It’s not a YOU – ME attitude, it’s WE together.  I don’t make a decision without sharing with my husband and vice versa.  We’re a team.  He respects my opinions and I respect his authority as the Spiritual leader of our home.  We compromise when we need to.  I’m his greatest fan, and he is my greatest fan.  We can always count on each other!

3.  We think of each other’s needs and well-being above our own.

4.  We both are well aware that our first love is God.  He is #1 in our hearts and in our home.  Yes, we love each other and love our children but God is first.  We do not usurp authority over God.  “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

5.  We laugh…a lot.

6.  We share common goals, passions. likes and dislikes, but we also embrace one another’s differences.  He’s into cars, I’m into writing and books.  He retreats to his shop and muscle cars on stress-filled days and I’m okay with that.  I’ve learned more about cars and car parts than I ever thought I’d learn in thirty-five years, and he’s read maybe three books.  That’s okay…at least one of those books was mine:)

7.  We take the covenant of marriage seriously.  God brought us together.  It’s a “death ’till us part” commitment.  “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer.”

8.  I married my best friend.  He is my confident, my partner, my love, my future.

Happy Anniversary, Charles!  Looking forward to the next thirty-five years (or more) together!

 

 

Becoming Legendary for Christ

Martyrdom of StephenWhat does it mean to be “Legendary for Christ”?

There is a big difference between what the world views as “legendary”, and what it means to be “legendary for Christ”.  Think about Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movies.  I suppose if you make a movie and a city erects a statue of you after the fact, you have the right to claim “legendary” status.  Academy Award winning actors and actresses, sports superstars, political figures, Nobel Prize winners could also be considered legendary in the world’s eyes.  We look up to these people, at times we may even idolize some of them.  But the question remains: “What does it take to be legendary for Christ?”

Let’s look at Stephen (Acts 7: 1-60) as his example of a person who truly became legendary.

Stephen is described in Acts as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) “full of God’s grace and power (and) did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).  When he spoke he had “wisdom” given to him by the Spirit (Acts 6:10).  The religious leaders (the Sanhedrin) were threatened by Stephen and so had him arrested and false charges were brought against him.  While the charges were being read they noticed that Stephen had “the face of an angel”. (Acts 6: 15)  Now, it’s interesting to note here that after the charges were read, the Sanhedrin ask this simple question of Stephen: “Are these charges true?”

Now, I don’t think the Sanhedrin had any idea when they asked this of Stephen that he would answer them the way he did.  Instead of trying to plead for his life (as was expected), Stephen launches into a sermon.  In one online commentary I read, describes the scene as, “One man full of the Holy Spirit faces a gallery of men full of hate.”  They had already decided what to do with Stephen.  Stephen knew that he was going to face a death sentence but he wasn’t interested in defending himself.  He simply wanted to proclaim the truth about Jesus in a way people would understand.  He knew this would be his last opportunity to do this.  So Stephen gives a panorama of Old Testament history.  He certainly did not  instruct the Sanhedrin on points of Jewish history they were ignorant of.  Instead, Stephen wanted to emphasize some things revealed in Jewish history they may not have considered: that God has never confined Himself to one place (like the temple), and that the Jewish people have a habit of rejecting those whom God sends to them!

The greatness of Stephen’s sermon is not only in its content, but in its courage. “He takes the sharp knife of the Word and rips up the sins of the people, laying open the inward parts of their hearts, and the secrets of their souls . . . He could not have delivered that searching address with greater fearlessness had he been assured that they would thank him for the operation; the fact that his death was certain had no other effect upon him than to make him yet more zealous.” (Spurgeon)

“Like a herd of stampeding animals (compare Lk 8:33), yet intent on one purpose, they rush together against Stephen, drag him out of the city and begin to stone him. Throwing him down from a high place, they gather and heave paving stones on top of him until death comes.”  (BibleGateway Commentary)  But take note of Stephen’s final words before he “falls asleep”: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  (Acts. 7: 60)

It is impossible not to compare Stephen’s dying words with that of Christ’s words from the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Stephen wasn’t a superman, but he was a man filled with the Holy Spirit.  He became legendary for Christ.  He became legendary not in his dying but in his living for Christ.  Consider how greatly you too can be used of God as you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Common Ground

Show me the Bullies!I have been a teacher all of my adult life.  (I know, I know, I’ve said that before), but God has allowed me to teach every age group through the years, either professionally or ministerially…from preschool to adult and so it bears repeating.  If for nothing else it lends some credibility to what I have to say next.  Although I have worked with all age groups especially children, my heart has always been and always will be with the teenagers.

That may come as a shock to some who know me because I have worked predominantly with children in ministry.  I have been the director of my own preschool and worked on staff as Children’s Minister at my church for three years.  I have been involved in Sunday School, VBS and Missions Clubs for kids for well over 25 years…however, my heart continues to belong to the youth.

After graduating from Seminary in 2007, God took me out of Children’s Ministries and for a while I’ll admit I floundered for a place to serve at my church.  I suppose it was because I just naturally assumed that since I had always been plugged in to children’s ministries before, God would just plug me right back in there again somewhere.  That was not the case however.   Instead, God gave me the opportunity to go where my heart had always been, to work with the youth.

The only thing about that, as much as my heart was there…I had absolutely no idea how to work with those particular youth at that time.  You see, I am trained and equipped to work with children.  Certainly I have worked with the youth off and on over many years, but the youth culture had changed…significantly and I found very quickly that I was totally unprepared and completely intimidated by the millennial generation of youth that I would now be working with.

At my home church then the youth would meet on Wednesday Nights for Wednesday Night Live and that was a time of Worship with a devotional message given by the youth pastor that would be geared towards youth.  Although I knew most of the youth by name (at least knew their little brothers and sisters and parents), I did not have any kind of personal connection with the majority of the young people in that room.  The first Wednesday Night Live I attended, I knew immediately that I was completely out of my element…and being the oldest in the room also set me apart…waaaay apart!

As much as I loved those kids, I had very little in common with them and after being politely ignored by them for the first month, I was thinking that maybe I had heard God wrong when He called me to work with the youth at that time.  At the time I had two teenagers at home myself, but as I watched them mix and mingle with their friends in that room, I was struck by how different they behaved when they are surrounded by their peers…and they were not keen having their mother as one of their youth leaders.  My son called it, “Weird” so understandably I was more than a little discouraged to say the least.

I remember reading in Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” that you must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.  Certainly I had made major adjustments when I attended seminary, and when I worked as Children’s Minister.  When you accept an assignment from God, whatever that may be, God requires…no, He expects that you make major adjustments to join Him.  I knew that to be true with every other assignment God had given me, but I wasn’t applying that reality to this situation.  I was instead making up excuses…I’m too old to work with youth, I’m too square, I can’t find common ground, my own kids don’t want me there….etc. etc.

God used our youth Pastor at that time to enlighten me.  “God did not give you a Spirit of Timidity,” he said. “You don’t have to be like the youth…they don’t want that anyway.  Just be available to them.  Try to find some common ground…but mostly just love them, respect them and never ever give up on them.”

Well, his words caused me to ask God how I could find common ground with those teenagers?   It became obvious that this generation was and still is all about technology, so I asked God to show me how to tap into that.  Within a few weeks, I literally forced myself to complete a self-prepared crash course on learning as much about their music, popular video games and social networking as I could.  I wanted to know what made these kids “tick”.  I had never heard of Facebook or My Space before, and now I was venturing into the computer “unknown” and within a few hours of me getting a Facebook account, the youth were starting to “add me” as their friend.  Amazingly what they wouldn’t share with me face to face at Wednesday Night Live, they were now sharing with me “online”, and God was leading me into a whole new realm of ministry I had never dreamed existed.

I joined music “fan clubs” of their popular music and learned that Christian “Screamo” music is the most foreign language imaginable to my generation of adults but since the teenagers were “rocking out” to it every single day I forced myself to listen to their music…I now have numbered in my music collection alongside ABBA and Elvis Presley,  the Bands: Fading Rebel, Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada and a few more.  I can’t say I found the music particularly melodious, but I was getting to actually like some of it…that alone was a God-thing!  Oh…and for a while I was even addicted to the video game…Guitar Hero….the result: my son and daughter spontaneously said to me one day as I was “rocking out”, “You are the coolest Mom in the world.”  High praise indeed.

That said there are challenges to treading on that “common ground” with the youth.  I have “retired” from leading youth in my church but now as a Junior High teacher I am very plugged in to their world.  At least as much as they want me to be in it.  My children are adults but with texting, SmartPhones, Snap Chat, Twitter and of course Facebook, youth and young adults spend most of their time online and completely immersed in the cyber world.  I shake my head and sometimes weep at what I see posted on Facebook “walls” and status updates.  Cyberbullying has reached a whole new level of insidiousness.  Pictures are posted, reputations are ruined, hearts are broken.

On the anti-bullying website: www.bullying.org cyberbullying is recognized as

“…the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.” – Bill Belsey

“Cyberbullying, like other forms of bullying, is about human relationships, power and control.  Those who bully others are trying to establish power and control over others that they perceive to be “weaker” than them.  Those who bully want to make victims feel that there is something wrong with them, but victims should know that there is NOTHING wrong with THEM.  It is THE BULLIES who have the real problems.

Cyberbullying is different from other forms of bullying in a number of ways.  While bullying is something that is often under the radar screen of adults, cyberbullying is even more so as today’s youth, a group that I call the “Always on Generation”, feel it most often and most intensely.  This generation is increasingly communicating in ways that are often unknown by adult and away from their supervision.

Cyberbullying is also different in that it is a particularly cowardly form of bullying.  Cyberbullies can more easily hide behind anonymity that the Internet can provide.

Cyberbullies can communicate their hurtful messages to a very wide audience with remarkable speed.

Cyber bullying is often outside of the legal reach of schools and school boards as this behaviour often happens outside of school on home computers or via mobile phones.

Victims of bullying are often fearful of telling others about being bullied because they fear that the bullying may actually become worse if they tell.  Victims of cyberbullying are often also afraid to report to adults about being cyberbullied, as they also fear that adults will over-react and take away their mobile phone, computer and/or Internet access.  This something that is increasingly unthinkable for the “Always On” generation as not being online means not being able to socialize or communicate with their peers, and this fear of exclusion is paramount in the lives of most adolescents and teens.”

Recently I became the victim of cyberbullying.  I had someone (whom I did not know personally), send me an explicit and suggestive (obscene) message on my Facebook page, and on another social networking site.  I realized quickly that this was a cyber “stalker” and I immediately blocked and then deleted the message from this individual, (an inappropriate response by the way, apparently it is important you keep documentation of cyberbullying so you can report it).

I told my daughter about the incident, she admitted that she gets messages like that regularly on Facebook.  She just ignores and deletes them.  Now that shocked me!  I was (am) a pretty protective mom and had I known then what I know now my first instinct would have been to protect my kids; to cancel our internet, and take away cell phones to protect them from those kind of cyber predators.  Then I remembered that is punishing the victim (my children) not the bully.  Instead, I have made it a point to be more aware of the threats online and to equip the teens I work with at school on how to be proactive in preventing cyberbullying.  The www.bullyingcourse.com webinar may be helpful for parents and teachers alike, but here are some immediate practical suggestions for you and your teen to find common ground against cyberbullying:

1.  Never give out or share personal information numbers (PIN) etc.  Remember “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)  There are indeed wolves in sheep’s clothing prowling the internet for innocent victims.  Adult predators create fake ID’s and pretend to be younger than they are in an effort to “lure” their victims into revealing personal information.

2.  Be careful what you post online (pictures, notes, etc.)  Think before you post!  Is this something you would want your Grandma to see or learn about you?  If not, then DON’T POST IT!

3.  Never send a message to others when you are angry or upset.  Give yourself a “time out” to cool off.  Scripture says:

James 3:5-8 – Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (NKJV)

4.  Never open a message from someone you don’t know.  The old adage of not talking to “strangers” applies here.  Also do not respond to someone online who treats you rudely or meanly.  Bullies want an audience, and they want a reaction from you – don’t give them the satisfaction.

5.  Just like any other form of bullying, if you are cyberbullied TELL SOMEONE!  Tell a trusted adult and then have them refer to ways on how to report cyberbullying at: http://www.cyberbullying.org/pdf/Cyberbullying_Information.pdf
6.  Be polite to others online just as you would offline.  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psa. 19:14).

Godspeed

Patience“How long is this going to take?”  I asked.

“As long as it takes,”  he said.

Whenever my husband answers a question like that I feel like throwing things at him.  Over the last thirty-five years or so, Charles has answered that question the same way.  We had just started dating.  I wanted to go out for dinner and then go dancing, instead my boyfriend was busily trying to change a transmission in his hopped up muscle car.  I sat on the pavement, bored, handing Charles wrenches and sockets when he asked for them.

“How long is this going to take?”  I asked and yawned.

“As long as it takes,” he shouted from under the car.

We had been married for five years and I was expecting my first baby.  I was as big as a mountain and baby was overdue…waaaay overdue.  Baby loved “womb service” too much I suppose.  The doctor tried to induce me not once, not twice but five times but finally decided to send me home to wait until my body decided to go into labour on its own.

“How long is this going to take?”  I asked my husband in exasperation.

He shrugged and shook his head, “As long as it takes.”

We were all piled into a motorhome and enroute to Los Angeles.  We had never traveled there before and certainly not with a “tweenie” and two preschoolers.  My husband called it our “great adventure” but after driving for hours and hours with restless children whining every few minutes, “Are we there yet?”, I was ready to turn the rig around and go home.

“How long is this going to take?”  I asked.

My husband gave me that “Et tu Brute?” look and then glared back at the road.  “As long as it takes,” he growled.

We live in a world of fast, fast, fast.  Everything in our world is fast-paced.  We want instant results, instant gratification.  We don’t want to wait. We want everything right away…high speed internet, microwave dinners in two minutes or less, rapid transit, super-stock, jet-propulsed…zoom, zoom.

We put those expectations on God too.

“Lord, I’m running out of patience.  I’ve prayed for him to come to You.  Years and years I’ve prayed for his salvation.  How long is this going to take?”

As long as it takes,”  the Lord answers.

“I’ve tried to be patient.  I’ve asked you to heal her, Lord.  How long is this going to take?”

As long as it takes,” the Lord responds.

“He’s been out of work over a year, now Lord.  We’ve asked You for direction.  We’ve asked You for patience while we wait, but seriously Lord, how long is this going to take?”

God smiles at me and says, “As long as it takes.”

Then I realize what I have just said.  Did I just ask for patience and then expect God to “hurry up” with that?!

Godspeed.

“To wish someone Godspeed is to ask for God’s blessings on his or her endeavor, most notably a long journey or a risky but potentially rewarding venture… The confusion over the meaning of Godspeed, which may also be rendered as god-speed or even goodspeed, lies in the definition of speed.  The original meaning of the Old English word speed had nothing to do with velocity, but rather prosperity and good fortune.  The addition of God to the concept of financial bounty may sound jarring at first, but the word Godspeed was an acknowledgment of God’s generosity and blessing.  Speed in that sense was the righteous acquisition of wealth and property through hard work and reverent behavior.”  (definition from: http://www.wisegeek.com/)

I suppose I’m not quite there yet.

… We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  (The Message)

How long is this going to take?

As long as it takes.