Wednesday, November 22, 2017
I was one of the last people to buy a smart phone and it immediately had a hold on me. The possibility of having internet on demand was a new and exciting experience.
The majority of adults, teens and children have a Smartphone in the palm of their hand wherever they go. It doesn’t appear to be only people under the age of thirty five—the age category is more diverse than that. They look at the screen while driving their cars, walking their dogs, eating in restaurants and throughout their homes. Surveys indicate that there is no more than five feet between an individual and their device. [i] Apparently much of what goes on a mobile phone is built to be addictive and one in eight of us will fall prey to its spell. [ii] Hmm, they, whoever they are, know what they are doing.
How would a Smartphone have affected my parenting if I had one in the 1980’s? Most of today’s parents, like me, enjoy texting or looking at their smartphones as often as possible. I see them with their heads bent over their screen while their children are playing in the park, when they are eating out or attending a child’s sporting event. Physically they are with their children, but mentally they seem distracted. They may even be viewing someone else’s child doing a cute stunt on You Tube. When this is happening, their own children tend to act out or misbehave to try and regain their parent’s attention, but then everything seems to deteriorate into an unpleasant scene.
I wanted to know how widespread the problem was and started researching the topic. It was a surprise to me that most articles I found dealt with parents trying to limit and control the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices. There was very little focus on controlling the parent’s excessive use of technology.
If our children have a problem, would it not follow that we are their examples? There are laws and fines for distracted driving, but what about distracted parenting—or grandparenting?
Jesus always made children a priority “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)
When I asked a mother of two about writing on this topic, she replied, “I’ve read articles on the topic that mostly make us feel like terrible people, but if you could find a way to equip us with tips or ideas on how to help break these bad habits when we are with our kids, and leave us encouraged, I think you’ll have written something really valuable.”
So with her and others in mind, I am listing a few practical ideas to help control smartphone usage (btw, I took some of these ideas for breaking a bad habit from the internet):
· Pray for guidance. “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)
· Recognize it as a problem and don’t deny or minimize the impact it may be having on your family. Talk to them about it.
· Notice the time of day, locations, or situations where you are most tempted to indulge in this activity. Set goals for when you can use the phone and make a commitment to turn it off at the same time each night.
· Analyze why being socially connected is so enjoyable. It may be a symptom of deeper needs, such as boredom or loneliness.
· Eliminate Apps, emails, and friends or groups who blog or post constantly.
· Plan family activities such as board games, biking, library visits or writing a play and create good family memories—no phones allowed during these times.
· Ask your children to help you be accountable—turn it into a fun reward for good behaviour.
Mobile technology offers us some benefits— safety, convenience, connection to old and new friends and colleagues, immediate information when we need it and much more. Giving up our phones isn’t an option, but setting boundaries can be. As a Christian this war can be won by “Put(ing) on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 NLT)
The Serenity prayer seems like a good way to close, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
Carol Ford - Author in Christmas with Hot Apple Cider
Saturday, November 18, 2017
“OK my darlings – what’s it going to be,” I challenged, “shall we take the cable car or lace up our hiking boots?” Eyebrows went up and down as we stood in a circle staring at each other. My husband Jack, my daughter Michelle, my son-in-law Tim, and my son Donovan were standing at the base of Mount Wengen, one of the most picturesque mountains in Switzerland. While this adventure had been researched for over a year, we didn’t expect this commanding, green giant to be so intimidating. Finally Michelle broke the silence, “You know what, I don’t think I feel up to the hike. Tim and I will take the cable car and meet you at the top.” A decision was made. Tim and Michelle off to the train station while Jack, Donovan and I (Heidi) bent down to lace up their hiking boots.
The first half hour of our excursion revealed a backdrop of lush alpine meadows awash with a carpet of flowers that turned into beautiful panorama of rugged, majestic mountains. Our conversation consisted of superlatives trying to fathom and express the vastness and magnificence of God’s creation. Every hundred feet or so, we stopped to wipe the sweat from our faces and share another rich discovery.
“Over there-see Staubach Falls cascading down the side of the mountain like a twirling corkscrew.”
It was magical! As we climbed higher and higher up the mountainside trail we saw the world from a different perspective. It all seemed clearer, slower, and calmer.
Worries, deadlines and expectations evaporated.
By the time we saw the sign WENGEN VILLAGE our clothes were soaked with a salty, grimy perspiration. But we were elated, and deliciously exhausted. Trying to squeeze one last drop out of our water bottles, we high fived and headed into the village, back to reality.
We found Tim and Michelle in a colourful friendly café leisurely sipping away on a rich, Swiss coffee. “Hey, how was your cogwheel railway climb?” We asked. “Fine”, they both echoed.” Now they wanted to know, “How was your trek up the mountain?” “It was very good,” was all I could muster up, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
How do you explain a glimpse of heaven-a visit into an idyllic time warp that would lose its magic if we tried to put it into human words?
In the book of Genesis when God finished creating our magnificent world He said. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV).
My hike up Mount Wengen allowed me to capture a tiny, fleeting glimpse behind God’s words of “very good.” If God says that our creation is only very good, I can’t begin to comprehend what heaven will be like.
I’m glad I chose the long, hard hiking trail. How many times have I missed God best for my life simply because I was not willing to bend over and lace up my hiking boots? God’s wants us to experience all of His “very good” in our lives. Why not stop today and take a moment to thank Him for creating something that is so very good.
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at Amazon.ca; Amazon.com, Goodreads.com or her website: www.heartconnection.ca
Friday, November 17, 2017
For years I’ve begged my husband to bring me mustard seeds, eager to lay eyes on the tiniest
Palestinian farmer would have grown in his day. A week ago this precious gift
became mine. He was helping a friend load his mustard crop and brought me a
handful of tiny black seeds. I touched them with reverence, the parable of our
Lord Jesus filling my spirit and swelling my heart.
|Black mustard seeds grown in Canada|
There are different kinds of mustard seeds. The most common type in Canada is the yellow seeds that produce the typical mustard found in fast food chains. But it’s the black mustard seeds that the people of my ancestral roots, India, love, and the kind our friend had grown for export. The black seeds are the most flavourful, sharp, the zestiest of all mustard seeds. From it mustard oil is extracted, a strong-tasting oil erring on the spicy side which I’ve purchased for pickled condiments. Black mustard seeds looks strikingly like Canola seeds until one chews them and discovers the tanginess. (Interestingly, Canola belongs to the mustard family.)
By using the miniscule mustard seed to illustrate His point, Jesus is speaking metaphorically about the unforeseen power of God that can be demonstrated in the lives of believers with true faith. The disciples had the authority, the head knowledge, but missed the heart knowledge that the miracle that Jesus performed could have been done through them. They lacked faith.
light bulb rated at 60 watts means that it draw 60 watts from a generator to produce the light. Likewise, a 100-watt bulb will draw 100 watts to produce the light. The intensity of light produced is directly related to the number of watts. J
Jesus was in the habit of using everyday items to explain the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven, so His object lesson on faith was one that his listeners were familiar with – a mustard seed.
In Matthew 17:20 he said to His disciples, “… for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (NASB).
So what is mustard seed faith? We can see a 60 watt bulb and the light it gives but how does one assess mustard seed faith? How big is such a faith and will it really send the Rockies into the Pacific?
Jesus is speaking symbolically when He refers to moving mountains. Rather than uprooting trees and stone, He is emphasizing the nature of faith, that a tiny amount of faith will produce great results. That little is much when it comes to God.
The Canadian Grain Commission measures the diameter of the mustard seed as 2mm or less. So, how does 2 mm-sized faith, mustard seed-sized faith play out in our lives?
When I sit on a chair at my dining table I exercise 100% faith that it will bear my weight and I’ll remain stable. On the other hand, when I tiptoe on my icy steps, I have much less faith that I would remain stable.
Below are a few examples of mustard seed faith in my life:
- I keep lifting some needs over and over to God – mustard seed faith. 100% faith that He will do as He wills.
My tiny seed faith, my 2mm pinpoint of faith will ripple in my life, influencing others and drawing many to the Lord, becoming bigger and bigger and closer to the symbolic mountain size. And even if my seed faith never grows any larger, I know I have pleased God. And I believe the same is true of you.
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