I, Annice, have been thinking a lot about frienDship these past few weeks. I have had my share of ups and downs in the area of friendship, specifically female friendships. I fondly remember my first "best friend". She and I met in preschool and our friendship began fading once we hit Middle School. We did everything together, we even had those tacky Best Friend Heart Necklaces. After that, I have had several best friends, but none of them lasted but a couple years.
As I grow in my relationship with the Lord, I learn more things about friendship. Some aspects of a friend are:
Christ is all those things and more.
Now, survey your closest friends, what qualities do they have? Are they friends or acquaintances? According to Proverbs 17:17, A friend will love at ALL times. That is good times, bad times, periods of anger, periods of grief, periods of depression, periods of addiction, periods of joy, periods of resentment, periods of unforgiveness, periods of love, etc. I know that the world we live in teaches us the contrary to that. It teaches us to give up, not work hard, divorce, etc. We need to be the generation to break that cycle! We need friendships more now than ever!
Look around you. Look deep into the heart and mind of your friend, co-worker, family member, spouse, child, and so on....They may look like they have it all together, but my guess is that they do not. Love them at all times, even if you do not know for sure what time that is right now. You would want the same from someone close to you, wouldn't you?
Reach deep into the hearts of our readers and pull out those "times". Make them visible to those around them. Cause them to reach out to someone close to them, pray with them, send them encouraging words, shower them with love and show them they are cared for. We want to break this horrible cycle of masking our problems and hurts. We want to love our friends at ALL times. But most of all, Lord, it is our desire to love and do things pleasing to you. In Your Son's precious name, Amen.
Social Media Alert... There are people on the Internet, and they receive the messages that you send! They are real people, not bots, who read what you write. And they often have feelings, hurts, loves and touchy spots in their life.
I think of this phenomenon as social media madness. People so blinded by their knowledge, strong opinions and sometimes hateful thoughts on a particular subject that they succumb to a temporary madness and forget to think before they send a tweet, post or blog out onto a social media site. In their temporary madness, they forget that the internet is simply made up of other people all around the world, people who are just like them. And in their blinded state, they say things that they would absolutely NEVER say to any living and breathing person who was standing in front of them.
Think of the vitriol that conservatives may spew about President Obama on Twitter. The hatred that liberals often express in online forums or blogs for Rush Limbaugh. Think of the anger that prolifers can be prone to express on Facebook about women getting abortions or doctors performing them. The hatred and anger toward everything Penn State on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere after the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal broke. The putrid anger of the LGBT supporting crowd for those that don't support same sex marriage.
It's everywhere and it's from everyone on every side. I haven't found a touchy subject that doesn't bring out all the trolls who try and tear dissenters to shreds. And sometimes it's not even trolls who are intentionally trying to tear people apart. It can be your average soccer mom or doting dad who disagrees and feels the need to express their opinion, but without a second thought or a loving manner, they throw their sometimes heated words into the fray. The careless and hateful words caused by social media madness often inflict very real and deep wounds on the real people who surf the internet.
The trouble with many of these thoughtless words is that they often come from someone who doesn't have to answer for what they said. If you say something nasty in front of your old school grandma, she may just cuff you upside the head. But there is anonymity on the web, a comfortable anonymity that people often hide behind and use, to say more than they should say or would ever say at a real life social setting, like a dinner party. These strong and sometimes hateful thoughts and opinions are just thrown out into cyber space, without a second thought as to how they are affecting people.
Maybe you have been on the receiving end of some social media madness. I have been. Some by email. Some by Twitter. Some by Facebook. It's madness. And it hurts.
And sometimes I have been tempted to react with harsh words on the internet, but being hurt by social media madness has often helped me not to press send, publish, or tweet. I think of the verse about throwing pearls before swine. In these cases where I am tempted to interject, is there a discussion going on, one that is worth engaging in? Is anyone listening to what I have to say, and am I listening to them? If there is no discussion and no one is listening, then to say much of anything is throwing pearls before swine. Pearls that will be trampled. I like to try to be a peacemaker or a voice of reason, but often it's just not worth it in social media "discussions". I back away, observe the social media madness and lament the current code of conduct on social media.
Are you quick to react to online controversy? Do you tweet, post and blog whatever you think without any kind of filter? Be honest. Have you succumbed to social media madness with someone? If you have been affected by social media madness, maybe it's time to make amends. If it's a friend who has been hurt, reach out in kindness and love and let them know you are sorry. If it's a stranger, talk to God about it. If you have been on the receiving end, maybe it's time to find a way to confront the friend or family that hurt you with their careless words. It's never too late to make amends.
And it's never too late to think twice about posting careless, inflammatory or thoughtless words. It is always wise to ask yourself a few quick questions before you post or tweet: Would I say this to my mother? Would I say this to my child? Is this helpful? Is it kind? Is it said in love? If the answer is no to any of these, you may just be affected by social media madness and it's time to stop and slowly back away from the computer or phone...
You'll be glad you did.
Darlene's book is just what I (Annice) needed to read at this stage of my life. The introduction had me hooked and in tears. I could not put this book down. I will be rereading it and diving in deeper using the S.O.A.P method, which Darlene provides at the end of each chapter.
I appreciated Darlene's transparency throughout the book as she shared her own life's experiences as a wife. You can sense her encouragement and love for each reader. Her use of scripture was exceptional and a blessing to me as I read.
The book is broken down into 18 lessons, which you can do alone or with a small group.
I highly recommend The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife. I have been reading Darlene's blog, Time Warp Wife, for over two years and have read other books and Bible studies she has written. I was blessed to have met her about a year ago. We, at Deliberate Women, are blessed by her love and support!
NOW is your chance to win an eBook copy of Darlene's amazing book chalk full of Biblical wisdom! Darlene walks her talk and you can get to knew her better by reading her eBook. We have 5 eBooks to give away! Our contest runs through February 15th.
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Today is a very exciting day for me [Ginny] because I am launching my new personal blog, Joy from Grace. Awhile back, Mandy (or amazing leader) encouraged us to consider starting our own blogs. The idea terrified me. How on EARTH would I have enough to write about to sustain a blog of my own? I sat on my hands and ignored the call for weeks. During that time, God kept prodding me and filling my head with idea after idea. Finally, I couldn’t ignore His clear calling any longer, and I also realized that this was NOT going to be my blog. It was going to be God’s blog. I was just the vessel, and if I was willing and ready, He was going to provide me with the material.
I thought about the title of the blog and asked for feedback from others. One name kept screaming at me for attention, and I am not surprised. I wanted to have a blog that would inspire other women to discover the joy in their lives that they may not even realize is there. As a mother who sat in the trenches of depression for the first two years of motherhood, I understand what it is like to feel like there cannot possibly be any joy in my life. I understand what it is like to want to run away from it all. I understand what it is like to cry for hours on end because life is overwhelming. Girls, I get it! And if that is where you are, I want you to know there are others just like you out there, and there is a woman right here who understands and wants to put her arms around you and love up on you. Why? Because God has given me grace, and He pulled me out of the trenches, and I now have experienced the JOY he wants for me. I want that for you. I encourage you to join me at www.joyfromgrace.com and join a community of women seeking after the love and joy of the Lord.
BUT that is not the only thing I am excited about today. I wanted to share with you something that brings joy to my life on a regular basis. And the best part? It brings joy to those around you as well!
We are called to do it, and the Bible is very clear about it.
Deuteronomy 16:17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
We give, not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. There are times when we need to be direct as givers, and the person will know we did it. At those times, we should be very humble and point every thank you to God. He gave us the money. He called us to give. To God be the glory.
However, there are times when I look around my community, and I see a need that I just can’t shake. It follows me and pushes harder with each minute, hour, or sometimes days. I have long ago learned who is doing the pushing, and that is the Holy Spirit. I bring the need to my husband (or vice versa), and we pray for the means or the direction in how God wants us to address the need. Sometimes the needs are small, and sometimes they are great, but we keep in mind that all of what we have is not truly ours – it is God’s, and if He calls us to give it away, we must be obedient.
Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Why does anonymous giving bring me joy? It brings me joy because it is fun! I love the thrill of figuring out how to give to someone so they don’t know it is me. I love the thrill of delivering it secretly (i.e. through the mail or ding dong ditch style!). I love the thrill of knowing I just made the day of someone who needed it. I may never get to see their smile, but I know God did, and that is all that matters. And an added benefit is that my husband and I have felt even closer together through each gift. There is something about following God's call and getting to be creative that just brings the romance!
What does anonymous giving look like? It might be leaving an envelope full of cash in the front door of a family who Is struggling to make ends meet, it might be sending a gift card for a massage to a single mother who never gets to pamper herself or it might be paying for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru. There are so many ways you can do it, and I would love for you to share your ideas in the comment section!
As Valentine’s Day is approaching, I wanted to share with you one way that my husband and I have chosen to make Valentine’s Day special.
For years, on Valentine's Day, we joined the thousands of couples who venture to nice restaurants. We always picked a restaurant we couldn't normally go to. Because it was out of our price range, we made this our Valentine's Day gift for each other instead of jewelry or other lovely gifts typical for this holiday.
Then one Valentine's Day, we decided to change everything. My husband came to me with this idea that we would give up our fancy Valentine's Day dinner and go to a fast food restaurant with a budget of 10 dollars.
That went over well.
Then he explained that we could give the money we normally would have spent on dinner to a family in need. And we would do it ANONYMOUSLY!
At this point, any brownie points he lost for wanting to take away my fancy dinner were won back by ten fold! Ladies, he was exploding with attraction points, too! Oolala!
We both really loved the idea, and we immediately began to think about who could use the money the most. God led us to a family, and they became the first recipients of the Great Valentine's Day Give.
Since that year, we have continued this tradition. My favorite part? Putting the money in an envelope and sending it (or one year, I put it in the door and dashed!), knowing the person on the other end has no idea who gave it to them.
Does this sound like fun to you? Go to http://www.joyfromgrace.com/#!great-valentines-day-give/c22dh and scroll down to learn more of the details. I hope to hear all about your incredible stories of how you made Valentine’s Day the most romantic yet!
Friends, there are needs all around you. Just open your eyes, pray for God to reveal needs to you, and trust me friends – HE WILL. Be ready to be obedient and be prepared for an exciting ride and be ready for the JOY it brings!
This space is reserved for Founder Mandy's perspectives and viewpoints of Scripture. Man is fallible, but God is not. It's strongly encouraged that you study the Scripture for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding.
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