Is Social Media Hurting the Church?

starbucks-red-cup

Ah yes, it’s the notorious red Starbucks cup. You are probably groaning and tempted not to read this right now. You’re probably thinking this is yet another article on why we should boycott Starbucks for their “war on Christmas” or you may think this is about the “war on Christmas paranoia”. Either way, you’re probably sick of hearing about it. But don’t worry, this blog post is not about the plain red “holiday” cup.  It’s about the deeper problems the red cup uproar represents.

If you have a Facebook or pay attention to current events and trends, you’re probably very familiar with this cup, but in case you aren’t allow me to enlighten you. Starbucks recently announced that they are using plain red cups this year as more open minded approach to the Christmas season. This originally enraged many Christians, who feel they are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas. But then, after the initial wave of social media ranting, there came another tirade of annoyed Christians, but they’re anger was directed toward a surprising source. Other Christians. These Christians claimed that ranting about the red cup was just paranoia, and Christians just wanted to rave about something. Ironically, I saw a lot more of these post than the original holiday anger.

Honestly, I don’t have an opinion concerning the Starbucks cup. I don’t drink Starbucks for other reasons, so it doesn’t matter to me. I can see both sides of the argument. But after seeing several of these Facebook posts written by Christians about other Christians turn a little nasty and snarky, I realized that the infamous red cup symbolized a deeper problem. Christians are using social media to attack other Christians in a way they would never do face to face.

Now before I continue, I would just like to point out that I’m not referring to this one instance, only using it as an example. This is not the first time I have seen Christians go at other Christians on Facebook, but it is the first time I’ve seen it to this extreme, with well-known Christian leaders and celebrities chiming in as well.

This brings me to the point of this post: is social media hurting the Church?

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest. I spend way more time than I probably should on these websites each day. Facebook is great for snooping on other people’s usually more interesting lives and finding out about fun events. YouTube is great for watching some of my favorite blogs and listening to music. And let’s not even get started on my Pinterest addiction. But the more time I spend on social media, Facebook specifically, the more I notice a disturbing trend. Christians using Facebook to vent their frustrations with other Christians, causing division in the Church.

I’d like to clarify that by the Church, I mean believers all over the world who love and serve God. I’m not referring to a specific church group. Believers are suppose to be encouraging and loving to one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 says, “So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

It’s as if Christians forget that the Bible still applies on the internet as much as it does in person. More so even, because not only are you disregarding someone’s opinion tactlessly, but you are doing it publicly.  Also, it’s much harder to judge someone’s tone over the internet than it is in person. And in the end what does it really solve? Reality is your not going to change anyone’s opinion by posting five different articles on why or why not Starbucks is declaring war on Christmas. So before you post that article on why Christians are wasting their time ranting about the red cup, or how they must not care about babies being aborted or homeless people because their concerned about a stupid cup, or called them paranoid in a condescending way, remember that they are all your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray about what your about to say, and ask yourself, “Is this somewhat snippy comment really necessary? In the end, what’s it going to prove?”

The really ironic thing is I’ve seen more Christians rant about how other Christians are wasting their time ranting about the red cup, than Christians actually ranting about the red cup. Is it really that big of deal that’s worth causing conflict?

After eden social media

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” ~Colossionas 3:15

 

~Allyson

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Phobophobia

Everyone has they’re own inner battles. Some are more obvious than others, but when it gets down to it, everyone has something they really struggle with. One of my personal struggles is fear. Fear seems to have more power over us than just about any other emotion. When we’re afraid of something can’t think rationally and behave in ways we wouldn’t normally. Like insisting on sleeping with the light on or checking under our beds for monsters. Or almost ripping our shirt off in the middle of the living room, because we think there may be a tiny spider on it. (I did not do that!) Or running away from your Dad, screaming, because he told you he felt like he was going to vomit. (I have done that.)

That brings me to my fear. THE STOMACH FLU. Notice how that is in all caps, that’s kind of how I imagine those three words together, mixed with a high pitched squeak. Now, when I say I am afraid of the stomach flu, I mean I am really, really terrified. Or at least I used to be. Now I am very scared of the stomach flu, but not like I was. I used to be soooooooo frightened of the stomach flu that it was a physical reaction. My body would tremble, I would feel weak, and my heart would race. At times it was so bad, I could barely function. And this wasn’t just my reaction when my family started vomiting, this was my reaction when anyone I knew got sick with the awful virus.

Then one night, several years ago, my entire family got the stomach flu. Every single one, but me.

It was at that point, as I lay in bed crying, my heart pounding, that I realized I feared the fear as much as I feared the stomach flu. I also knew that I couldn’t live with this fear for the rest of my life. It was too controlling, it stopped me from doing things that I would normally have done, simply because I was afraid I might get the dreaded illness. That night I begged God to help me overcome my debilitating phobia. That night I opened my Bible and found Psalm 91. I know it’s a common passage, but I want to share it with you anyway.

 

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I know what you’re thinking, this is going to be one of those incredible stories, where my fear completely disappeared in one night. But it’s not. I still fight with my anxiety. Each time my fear sneaks back in, I have to choose to trust God. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I notice the wording in verses 9-10.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

At the beginning of these two verses it says the word because. Because you have trusted God to protect you, because you have chosen him as your refuge he will be your shield. Wait a second. That means I have to be willing to give my dread to God? That’s really hard. Why? Because I want to feel like I am in control. But reality is, I’m not. And I never will be. It doesn’t matter how much hand sanitizer I put on, it’s up to God whether or not I get sick. Besides, the Good Lord made the germs for a reason, and he’s more capable than I am of getting rid of them. I might always be somewhat scared of the stomach flu, but God has given me wonderful resources to help my win my war with worry. There are four things that have really helped me.

1. God’s word

Every time I’m afraid, God gives me new verse to focus on. One of my favorites is Isaiah 41:13:

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

I love that verse! Who doesn’t want God to hold their hand? You’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool and comforting!

2. Prayer (You would probably laugh if you could hear some of the imploring I’ve done with God over the years. Sometimes it sounds kind of like this: “Please, please, pleeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaase don’t let us catch the flu!!!!!!”)

As for prayer, I’m not generally feeling very creative when I’m scared, so it kind of comes out something like this: “Help!” or “Dear God, Please don’t let me get the stomach flu!” That’s generally the gist of my prayers. But you know what? They work! I have only had the stomach flu a couple of times ever! I can’t actually remember what it feels like to throw up. (Perhaps that’s part of the problem.) God really does hear our prayers when we ask him for something, even when his answer is NO.

3. Lavender Oil (I know you were expecting something profound, but lavender oil is especially helpful for anxiety.)

Now, let’s touch on the lavender oil thing for a minute. I don’t want to sound like I’m selling something, because I’m not, but this stuff truly is wonderful! The DoTerra brand smells heavenly and is great for anxiety. It helps relax your body and makes you a little bit tired. Plus, it’s completely natural! (I’m homeschooled, so obviously that is very important.) All you have to do is put a little bit under your nose and inhale.

4. Music

Alright, on to the music. One day, my Dad felt like he might be getting sick with the you-know-what. My parents had just had it not three weeks earlier, and I was thinking, No, no, no!!! Not again! I just did this, God! Is this some kind of cruel game? I turned on the CD I had in my CD player, and a song came on (imagine that.), it was “Hold Me Jesus”  by Rich Mullins.

Hold Me Jesus

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

CHORUS:
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

CHORUS

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

CHORUS

You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace?

It occurred to me in that moment, that I needed to stop fighting God, and let him be my Prince of Peace. I needed to let him take control of my life, and stop worrying about the future.

Honestly, I hate writing these sort of blog post. In some ways they seem too personal and open. I’m sharing a bit of myself with you, and am making my self somewhat vulnerable. That’s not easy. I guess it’s probably a pride thing. But either way I decided to share this with you today. I hope it didn’t make you feel like I was just sharing my problems with the world. I wanted to write this, because I wanted to make the point that in our many fears, we should trust God, but not to be discouraged when our problems don’t immediately disappear. Even if you’re like me and you have a bit of phobophobia (fear of fear), he’ll help you overcome that fear as well. You can’t let your fears control and keep you from doing all the amazing things God has for your life. In the words of John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

~Ally

It’s Going to be a Good Morning!

Hello everyone! There are two kinds of people in the world: morning people and night people. I applaud all of you people who are able to go to bed at 8:30 and get up 5:30, that’s incredible. But that’s not me.

This is me in the morning:

Yep, it’s not a pretty sight.

This is me at 3:00 a.m.:

See the difference?

Alright, so I am a self-described night owl. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. Although, there are times when I wish that I was able to get up at 6:00 a.m., and have the energy to get through the day (without a nap). How do you know if your a night owl or an early bird?

You might be a night owl if…

1. If when your dad wakes you up Saturday morning with, “Rise and shine, Valentine!”  your first thought is: “Why, oh why, does he have to sound so happy in the morning?”

2. If you have ever had a teacher tell you that emailing your paper to them at 1:oo a.m., the morning after it was due, does NOT count as turning it in on time.

3.  If you have ever seen your neighbor leave his house in nothing but boxers at 4:00 a.m. (That’s a true story, by the way.)

(I have chosen not to include a picture of that.)

4. If your younger sister tells people that you are as nocturnal as a raccoon. Which is not a flattering comparison.

 

5. You’re never fully functioning until you’ve had a highly caffeinated drink.

 

6. If you have ever considered taking a hammer to your alarm clock or little brother, or both.

 

7. If this is you:

Alright, so now you know what it takes to be a night owl, but how about a morning person? Are you one of those people who wakes up in the morning bursting with energy? Perhaps.

 

You might be a morning person if…

1. You’re always on time.

2. You feel happy before noon everyday.

 

3. If you exercise.

 

4. If you’re the first person to fall asleep at sleepovers.

 

5. If you’re tired before midnight.

6. If this is you in the morning:

 

Now you know whether your a morning person or a night person. Unfortunately, most night owls have to get up in the morning, whether we want to or not.

If this is you, here are some songs to make rising early in the morning a little easier for you! (If you are reading this on your email, the YouTube videos will probably not appear.)

~Ally

1. The Cartoon Song by Chris Rice

 

2. The Breakfast Song by Newsboys

 

3. Good Morning by Mandisa

 

4. Smellin’ Coffee by Chris Rice

 

5. You’re My God by Jaci Velasquez

The Reality of Homeschooling

The Reality of Homeschooling: As depicted by twelve realistic comics.

 

Every homeschool parent has the right to talk to themselves. It is perfectly acceptable.

 

Yep, that’s kind of how it feels on the last day of school.

 

Who said you can’t wear pajama’s to school?

 

And no matter what, do NOT ever mention Harry Potter.

 

In our house walking to the mailbox counts as P.E. Wimpy, I know.

 

To be fair this has never happened to me, but I have known people it has happened to.

 

Just another day in the life of a homeschooler.

 

Okay, maybe that’s a little snarky, but you get the point. We really are not afraid of the outside world and do not plan to hide in our houses for the rest of our lives.

 

But who can blame her? I would be frustrated by the end of the day if I had to do her job too.

 

I admit it, I correct my own tests. But I do not cheat!

 

Genius.

 

I’ve never received lunch money, but I can’t complain, my lunches at home are better than what they get in a public school.

I hope you have enjoyed this post! ~Ally

 

 

Jesus Ate a Sandwich

Hello everyone! Today’s post is on seasons in a persons life, and how each moment has a purpose. I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I feel my life is very boring right now.  But it was either write this post or have a pity party. I decided to write this post. The scripture verse I would like to share with you is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
      a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

In case you haven’t caught it, there is a time for everything in life. Even a time to be bored. I know there are far worst things in the world than having nothing to do, and I’m trying to keep that in mind, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about keeping a positive attitude and remembering to do everything as if you were serving God, even when you’re discouraged, worn out, and lonely. Because as much as I hate to admit it, there is even a stage for cabin fever.  Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 says,

“What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Even in the monotonousness of everyday life God has purpose for it, and he plans to make your life beautiful in his time. I don’t know why we go through times when we feel glum and dispirited, but I do know that there is a reason. Perhaps it is the calm before the storm, and six months from now I’ll look back and think of this period in my life as the good ol’ days. Maybe it is simply to teach me to work hard without complaining.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28.

If you think about it, a lot of biblical characters went through times in their life that would be considered uninteresting. David was a shepherd for years. I’m sure that was a really exciting job! He was alone most of the time, and even though he occasionally had to deal with a wild animal, I’m sure on the whole it was extremely dull. But God used that time in his life to prepare him for later, when he would flee from Saul and when he would become king.

Then their was Esther, who was an just a normal girl. She probably lived an ordinary life, and had chores she needed to do before she became queen. Yet no one can say that her life was boring.

Finally, there’s Jesus. Have you ever thought about the fact that not a single one of the gospels mentions Jesus’s life between the ages of twelve and thirty? Perhaps it was because nothing extraordinary happened during those years. I can just imagine what an interesting chapter of the Bible those “lost years” of Jesus would make. “Then Jesus took a break from wood carving and ate a sandwich. It was peanut butter and grape jelly. Yep.” We’re not told about the years in between Jesus’s childhood and ministry because he lived an ordinary life. He spent most of that time as a carpenter.

Does that mean those years were wasted? Of course not! Those years had a purpose, just like every other season of life.  Am I saying that God uses boring times in our lives to prepare us to become royalty? No, although all of my examples either were or became royalty. My point is this: even though you may feel as though your life is purposeless and depressing, God has a plan and a purpose for it. It may not feel like it, and you probably don’t understand it, but it’s true. Whether you have nothing to do or you feel like your life is spinning out of control, always remember to live each day as if you are serving the King.

~Ally

P.S.

I will try to post the next part in the Meek Person’s Guide to World Domination soon.

 

 

 

5 Best and Worst Movie Endings of All Time

Hi all! I want to start by saying that endings are very important to me. Ask any member of my family, and they will tell you I am one of those people who reads the end of the book first. If the book does not have a conclusive or happy ending then I will probably not read the book. Why waste time reading something that doesn’t end well? But today’s post is not about books (as wonderful as they may be), this post is about movies. Today I would like to share with you the five best and worst movie and series endings of all time. Before I begin I must tell you three things:

1. This post is filled with spoilers.

2. Just because I do not like the ending does not reflect my opinion of the movie over all.

3. I am a little biased in my ending taste.

The second and third are probably the most important to remember. This is the type of ending I like:

 

This is the kind of ending I do not like:

All of that said, let’s get started!

 

Top 5 Best Movie Endings:

 

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

One of the best movie endings of all time! It had a good, conclusive ending. You find out exactly who ends up with who, and nothing is left to chance! In case you have never seen or read the Harry Potter series, the last scene takes place 19 years later. All of the bad guys are defeated, and now Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione are sending their kids off to Hogwarts. It explains exactly what is going on and what everyone is doing now that they have all grown up. I wish every series ended this way. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful series. The Harry Potter series is worth watching simply for the ending.

 

2. The Philadelphia Story

This movie is not your typical, predictable romance, I was never positive as to whom she would end up with. I was a little concerned that it would end abruptly, but was overjoyed when it had a conclusive, happy ending. I was not left wondering what happened, but was shown exactly what happened at the end. The spontaneous wedding made for an entertaining finale.

3. Signs

I loved that the movie “Signs” had an epilogue! That’s not something you see very often in movies, usually only in books. If you haven’t seen “Signs” I’ll give you a brief summary, it’s about a pastor (Mel Gibson) who has lost his faith in God due to his wife’s death. Strange things keep happening around his farm, first abnormally large people running around his house at night, then his dogs get sick, and finally someone cuts his cornfield in an odd pattern. Then the world realizes that we are being attacked by aliens. Finally, it ends with Mel Gibson’s faith in God being restored.

 

4. The Princess Bride

The perfect fairy tale finale! Riding off into the distance to live a carefree life with your princess and two men you barely know, but who just helped you save your princess! Is there anything more perfect?

5. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Shotgun wedding!

 

Top 5 Worst Movie Endings

 

1. Gone with the Wind

Was there ever a more depressing ending? First, everyone dies, then her husband divorces her. Worst finale ever! I don’t care if she goes back to Tara, it’s downright appalling. The movie ends with Scarlett O’Hara saying, “Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day.” But it never explains if she actually ever gets Rhett Butler back.

 

2. Casablanca

No offense to all of you Humphrey Bogart fans, but I hate the ending of Casablanca. I will give it credit for having some memorable quotes in the last scene, but the scene itself is tragic. He pines after her the entire movie, and then she leaves with her husband. Not that I would have preferred she leave her husband for Rick, but I was kind of expecting him to die or something. Oh well, at least she didn’t leave him, because in the words of Humphrey Bogart, “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”

 

3. The Village

[village_imback.jpg]

I will try not to include any spoilers in this summary, because this movie is full of shocking plot twist, but I have to include “The Village” on this list. Overall, I love this movie. It is enthralling, and kept me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time, but the end is not conclusive. After Ivy Walker goes on a challenging journey to get her sick fiance medicine, they don’t even tell us if he get well or if he dies. For all we know he could die the next day. We are left to assume that he gets well, but you should never assume anything when it comes to movies.

 

4. Into the Woods

Happily ever after? Baloney! The horrid ending of this movie starts when Cinderella and Prince Charming’s wedding reception is interrupted by an angry giant. The giant is after Jack, because he killed her husband. She throws the entire kingdom into disarray, and Jack is nowhere to be found. Then Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, the town baker, and his wife all go looking for Jack. While looking for Jack the baker’s wife runs into Prince Charming. They kiss, even though he just married Cinderella and she is married to the baker. After he leaves her she sings a song about their kiss and promptly falls off a cliff. When her husband hears that she died he leaves his newborn son with Cinderella and runs away, but comes back after he has a conversation with his dead father. Meanwhile, Cinderella hears from the birds of the woods that Prince Charming had kissed the baker’s wife, and confronts him. His response is, “I’m suppose to be charming, not sincere.”  The whole last half of the movie stank.

 

5. Sleepless in Seattle

I must admit that the ending of this movie didn’t bother me very much, until my Dad pointed out that they could have broken up five minutes after the movie ended. In Sleepless in Seattle, a young woman named Annie falls in love with a man, named Sam, who she has only heard on the radio. She writes to Sam asking him to meet her on top of the Empire State Building, but he never even reads the letter. His eight-year-old son, however does. His son is convinced that they should meet up with Annie in New York, but Sam is not. That is until eight-year-old Jonah runs away to meet Annie. Sam is forced to go to New York to retrieve his son, and in the process runs into Annie on top of the Empire State Building. Then the movie ends. For all we know they could have gone on one date and then decided they hate each other. Outside of that, Sleepless in Seattle is a very enjoyable movie.

 

Meek Persons Guide to World Domination: Courage

When you think of courage you probably think of someone like this little mouse, who despite their fear, is willing to act as if they were fearless. Sometimes that is a correct definition of courage, but other times courage is the ability not to act, even if it could cost you everything. Sometimes turning the other cheek takes more bravery than fighting back. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” That alone takes a lot of strength. Let’s face it: we may think of meekness as weakness, but could it be we’re really just afraid to risk our reputation and pride? It can be humiliating to not defend yourself when you are being made fun of or teased. It takes a lot of courage to bless your enemies, rather than cursing them.

However, turning the other cheek does not mean backing down or giving in to other people. We should always stand up for what we know is right, no matter the cost to ourselves. That’s why we must turn the other cheek, because when we are unwilling to back down, we are often mistreated. It is also why we must be brave to be a meek person, if we do not have courage we will be tempted to fight back, rather than standing up for what we believe peacefully. 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

~Ally