Teachable Moments, Young Adults

Finding my Silent Night

December in Chicago is a big game of hide and seek in so many ways.  I hunt for my stash of gloves so I can help shovel the driveway, or at least give directions on how it should be done.  I hunt for my favorite movies on Netflex, TCM and Hallmark so I can DVR them. I hunt for perfect gifts, the right ingredients and a little bit of peace and quiet now and then.  I do love a Silent Night. But achieving the Silent Night is difficult.

Because I don’t want to miss the opportunities to enjoy the “all is calm, all is bright” moment, I am hunting for ways  to go about achieving more Silent Nights this season than ever before. If scripture is true, and I believe with all my heart it absolutely is, then perhaps Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings 19 in which God meets Elijah in a whisper has something to offer.

“So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him.” (1 Kings 19:11-13a)

How do I like Elijah put myself in a position to experience the gentle blowing of God’s spirit to my soul? What mountains do I need to climb? As Elijah climbed a real mountain, I have a journey to make, and like Elijah, I’ll take it a step at a time.

Step Number One:   Who I am on this journey is key to the success of finishing it; I begin by remembering my position in Christ.  You and I are not God’s workhorses, we are His precious children. We’re not human DOINGS, we are human BEINGS. If I don’t just acknowledge this truth, but truly believe it, I will cease striving and recover strength through quiet times. I have a hard time slowing down long enough for my soul to recover its strength; I often must schedule silence in my life or I will have none. I have to schedule time with the Lord in prayer or I will have none. Amidst the chaos – even good chaos – it is important to note that work for the Lord is NEVER more important than my relationship with Him. The discipline of rest through silence, prayer and meditation on scriptural truth is how I can begin to care well for my soul.

Step Number Two:  Soul care entails a sense of stewardship for everything God has so generously given to me. This means being a good steward not only of the stuff God gives me, but of my time, energy, and emotional stability. It is my responsibility to manage them well. I know that when I feel depleted, ineffective, or I can’t finish my sentences because I’ve “run out of me”, I need to pull back and restock.  That takes me making some adjustments in my schedule. This is NOT about saying “no”; it is what I say “yes” to. My “yes’s” need to be effective in Kingdom building and soul building. Some things we will do this season will drain us – that is inevitable.  Some people will drain us. But not all events and people need to. Feeding my soul through eternal worthy events and people who nourish my spirit, brighten my day and encourage who I am in Christ must make the list.

Step Number Three:  Proper soul care means we need to take time now to prepare for tomorrow’s trouble.  I am not a pessimist by nature, but even in my eternal optimism, I am a realist. I know that the time to get on my life jacket is before the Titanic goes down. Tragedies will strike and when they do, it may feel like the soul is suffocating beneath the weight of it all. I want to navigate hard times competently so God accomplishes His goal to do the work He desires to do in me.  We know His ultimate purposes for us is to love Him more fully, to know Him more clearly, and to be conformed more closely to His image. No one can escape trials, but we can miss the potential to learn how to rest more efficiently in Him as we endure. Given the union we have with God when we allow ourselves to rest in Him and be silent amidst our lives, no one should neither avoid resting the soul nor experiencing a difficult time.  We rest when we intentionally self-reflect on what we are thinking, why we are making the decisions we are, and choosing wisely those events and relationships we invest Him. Resting is an active, intentional assessment of our lives and making adjustments accordingly.

Dear Reader, are you receiving the rest and care for your soul that is needed to climb to the summit so you too can meet with God as He speaks to you? I challenge you to schedule silence into your life. Say “yes” wisely and trust Him to bring purpose out of pain.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”-Psalm 62:1

Teachable Moments, Young Adults

A Christian Guide to Understanding Social media

As a parent of young adults, Professor of emerging adults and yet a member of the Baby Boomer Generation, trying to navigate my way through this new world of social media is a bit like tip-toeing through a mine (or mind) field.  I am aware that not all social media venues are the same; their respective differences are important to keep in mind or what I try to communicate may just blow up in my face. Yikes! To try to ensure safe passage, I find that my brain translates the various social media platforms into associations with which I am familiar.

  •         Twitter: Thoughts in the shower. I think best under water so this is one of my favorite platforms.  Yet, I have learned to withstand jumping out of the shower and immediately throwing my “brilliant” thoughts out there for the world to read.  I try and live with “no regrets” as a motto, and so I shut-up as much as post up.
  •         Pinterest: Post-It Notes.  Organizing all my random, creative ideas into different categories is so helpful to me, and hopefully others. For the “Tigger” in me who loves to jump from idea to idea, this is an ideal social media tool.
  •         LinkedIn:  Water-cooler Conversations  We don’t have a water cooler at work, but we do have a coffee station; it’s the same idea. I can share my experience, educational background, new career aspirations and ideas with colleagues who are like-minded.
  •         Facebook:  Coffee with Friends.  This is catch up time, random thoughts, funny moments, prayer requests, family photos, what I ate for lunch Tuesday afternoon, and what’s new at work all rolled into one.  Close friends and new acquaintances alike, I share my life, my passions and my family moments.
  •         Instagram:  Sharing photos with clever quips at a family reunion.  I share my life with others to laugh, cry and cringe over; both my very special and my everyday moments are included.  Who doesn’t want to see what I ate last week for breakfast as we sit down to a family get-together?!

Social media is a new way to do an old thing.  From the beginning, we as people were created to communicate and connect with one another.  We are created in God’s Trinitarian Image (Imago Dei). While what this means has been debated throughout church history, we find that whether we focus on our qualities, our functioning, or our relational attributes that we share with God, we are inherently meant to communicate and connect with one another.  Ultimately, this is the goal of social media – to communicate in order to connect.

As a Baby Boomer, none of these sites existed when I was a child, adolescent or young adult.  They are new to me – but not to my adult children. These are common, everyday ways to communicate and connect for them.  And, this next generation coming up will never know a time when Social Media did not exist. That is a mind-blowing thought.

Dear Reader, I hope my above guide helps you navigate the ever-morphing technological world.  I wanted to communicate my quick and quirky guide with you, to connect in fun, helpful and ever-more meaningful ways.  It means the world to me that you read this blog.

Until we next communicate and connect, Blessings Abundant – Elizabeth