Tuesday, January 25, 2011

why do i blog?

In the last while I have been reviewing some of the posts I have written over the years that I have had this blog. As I did I noticed that there have been some topics that seem to come up over and over again. And it has caused me to wonder. Do I write about the same things all the time? Now I have not read all of my posts since I started this blog, just a few from various times, so I may just be picking all the ones that are about the same things. But I do still wonder if I there really is enough interesting stuff that I think about to write posts that are different than ones I have already written.

As I enter another new year and look at how I spend my time I guess I find myself evaluating what I do with the time I have. And that has brought on this review of my blog. Wondering about whether I am repeating the same topics over and over. And wondering about what the purpose of my having a blog is. And wondering about whether I can use the time I spend writing here on other things.

At this point, I do not feel like I want to give up my blog, but I do feel like maybe I am in a season where there are other things that need some of the time I spend on here. The result of that may mean less posts here. Or they may come in chunks of a few of at a time with larger time breaks in the midst.

I am not sure what my blog will look like this coming year. All I know is that it will quite possibly look different than it has in the past - at least for the next little while. I am not even sure that this is a long term change, it may be just a temporary one. That remains to be seen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

long lost friends

So, it has apparently been a couple of weeks since I wrote a post. It is not for a lack of thinking about posts, but a lack of knowing what to write. Until today that is.

Earlier this week I had lunch with a friend that I went to Briercrest with. It was really good to see each other and catch up on where life has taken us in the 5-1/2 years since we last saw each other at graduation. We reflected on some of the good times we had together at Briercrest. And talked about where we had been in terms of job, friends, relationships, etc since then. And reflected on how, despite living relatively close to one another we live, we have not seen each other in all this time.

Since we had lunch I have been reflecting on things a bit. It seems as though email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have made it easier to stay connected with people. My friend and I had communicated some through those methods over the years - our lunch meeting was even planned entirely through Facebook - but there is something that comes from sitting across the table from someone and really talking that we had missed in the recent years of it only being over the Internet that we connected. Something that was only found again when we sat down face to face to talk.

Now, for those who remember a post of mine from earlier this month about how I do see online community as being authentic, I will stand by that. I do believe that it can be authentic. But, I also believe that it can never take the place of being physically present with people. We need to have those people who can get in our lives and in our way sometimes to get our attention turned to what is really important. We cannot go through life with only online communication being our way of connecting to other people.

This point was driven home to me this Christmas. For the first time ever, one of my sisters was not here for Christmas. It just did not work out for her and her husband to make it here for Christmas this year. So, we used skype to talk on Christmas, and to see each other via our webcams, but it really was not the same. Seeing the two of them on the other side of the computer screen just did not seem the same as it would have to have them physically sitting at the same dinner table or on the same couch. It was great to "see" them and talk to them, and definitely better than not at all, but something was missing. And that something was physical presence.

I guess in the last while I have been reminded of the importance of having people in your life who give the gift of presence to you and who you give that gift to. Because it truly is a gift to give someone when you are physically present in their life - in the good and the bad.

Who can you give the gift of your presence to today?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

too difficult for God?

I was reading in Genesis recently and was stopped by a question that was asked.

In Genesis 18, God is promising Abraham that he would have a son by his wife, Sarah, by this time next year. Abraham and Sarah were well past child-bearing age by this time, so it seemed like it would be impossible for it to happen. Sarah is listening to Abraham's conversation with God's messenger and laughs at the idea that it would even be possible for her to bear a child at her age. In Genesis 18:14, God's messenger then asks the question:
"Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" (NASB)

When I read that question, I stopped there for a while. It was a question that challenged me and that I have been thinking about since.

I know in my head that there is nothing that is too difficult for God to do. But, it does not easily become something that I believe in my heart, something that becomes a part of who I am. I do not want it to stay just something I acknowledge in my head. I want it to become something that I act on. But, that change does not always come easily.

When you hear things from God that seem impossible, difficult, or crazy, what is your usual response? Do you respond with laughter and disbelief as Sarah did? Or do you respond with faith? Do you hold back and stay where it is safe? Or do you step out trusting God, even in the midst of fear?

"Is anything too difficult for God?" (Genesis 18:14, NASB)

Sarah did go on to have a child, just as had been promised. I wonder if sometimes she looked back and wondered if that year between being told she would have a child and that child being born would have been different if she had believed God's messenger from the beginning. I know I can think of times in my life where, when I look back now, I wonder if it would have been different if I had believed God and trusted Him right from the beginning. But, I am also realizing that I cannot go back and change them; all I can do is learn from them for the next time. So that next time I believe God right from the start.

"Is anything too difficult for God?" (Genesis 18:14, NASB)

Monday, January 3, 2011

online community? is it authentic?

As it seems like our world has moved more and more to interacting online, I have started to wonder about whether the online community can truly exist? Is it authentic? Or are we trying to convince ourselves that it is, even though it is not?

There are many things that have made it easier to keep in touch with people who live a great distance away from us. And that has its benefits. The family that lives across the country or is on the mission field can communicate much easier than was previously available. It is much easier to keep connected with old school friends - whether from high school or college or university. It is easier to keep up to date on the happenings of family and friends that live nearby as well.

But, can online communication really provide any form of community? Or does it make it too easy to hide what is really going on?

As I think about these questions, I cannot help but think about the interactions among readers that happen on another blog that I follow and comment on often. I would say that there is community that happens on that blog. People post genuine prayer requests and others pray for them, encourage them - do what we are called to do in community. There is a sense that it is a safe place to be honest and real. Over time an identity as a group has formed and it does feel like I am getting to know some of the other women who comment there.

But, does this replace face-to-face community? Community where people can be there physically for you when needed?

I do not think so. There is nothing that can replace having friends and family who will sit with you or give you a hug when you need it. We need that kind of community. We need for people to physically be there for us. But, I do feel that in our increasingly busy and spread-out, yet inter-connected world there is a place for online community. It can be real and honest and authentic. It can provide us the challenge and encouragement and prayer that we need. It just cannot be used instead of ever having people who we sit across the table from and talk about life with. That will always be needed. But, online community can happen and can help to keep us connected to others.

new year's resolutions

New Year's Resolutions . . . often they are made with the best of intentions. We want the new year to be better in some way than the previous year. But, how often do we get to the end of January and find that we have not kept any of them? And as we look at that list of things we intended to do, but failed to do for even one month, it is pretty easy to get completely discouraged.

As I was reflecting on 2010 and looking ahead to 2011 in the last couple of weeks, I found myself looking at New Year's Resolutions in a different way than I have in the past. Rather than making a list of things I wanted to change for 2011 that I would try to do on my own, I asked God what He wanted for me in the coming year. Out of that came a much shorter list. A list that seems must easier to manage for a year, but is in many ways more difficult than what I would have put on the list myself. The difference is that I know that God wants me to do this and that He will be the One who makes me able to do this. I cannot do it on my own. That I know, from my attempts at New Year's Resolutions in the past. But, with God directing this one I know that I can.

Having this one thing that I know God has for me in this coming year does not mean that I am not open to anything else God may bring my way. As I reflected on 2010, there were many things that God brought to me that I never would have guessed and that were challenging, but were worth embracing with God. I know that 2011 will be the same. God will bring things my way that I have no idea about now, and if He told me about them now, I would probably do my best to avoid them. But, when they come, it will be the right timing.

Maybe you are one of those people who refuses to make New Year's Resolutions anymore because you have never kept them before. And, really, who wants to get to the end of January (or sooner) and feel like they have failed because they have not kept nay of their New Year's Resolutions. But, maybe, you can stop and ask God for one thing that He has for you this year.

Having just one thing does not necessarily mean that it will be easier than any other year has been. When we are following through with what God wants for us, that can seem more difficult if we try to do it in our own strength. But, with God, it is do-able.