Archive for the 'friends' Category


But someone is wrong on the internet!!!

I like people. Individually, every one of us is a unique puzzle. We all have a story and each one is interesting. Collectively, we are generally pretty amusing, too, but in a different way. I enjoy learning peoples likes and dislikes. I find individual reasons to be thoroughly fascinating. We all do what we think is the right thing to do, and for moral issues, I do believe that there is right and there is wrong. With methods, however, often there is no one right answer for every situation. We see this manifested in about a million and one different ways. It ranges in importance from what type of shoe we prefer to wear all the way over to (the oh so hot topics of) parenting practices. Of course, anything can become a moral issue (just as wine in of itself is no sin, we can make it one for ourselves), but more often then not, it simply comes down to preferences. One thing I have become quite convicted of is that women, generally, need to approach diversity more like men.

Men don’t tend to take their differences personally. My husband has a friend who is really into Terry Pratchett novels. My husband enjoys some of them, but is not gung-ho. He is more of a read a history book on the Peloponnesian wars for funsies kinda guy, but back to the point… I know that if my husband out and out hated Terry Pratchett novels, that there would be no awkwardness or breach of fellowship between the two men. They would probably give one another a hard time about it, poking fun, one upping, but all in good spirits, being able to enjoy and even applaud well worded gibes. It isn’t a sin to dislike Terry Prachett. It causes no rift between them and I admire that. Of course if my husband was all gung-ho about, say, 50 Shades of Grey, well, that would probably change their friendship, not because of the difference in taste, but the moral philosophy of the novel. We all do what we do for a good reason. If we don’t know why we do what we do, that is different problem. But philosophy and methodology aren’t the same thing. Some people get them confused, or sometimes they accidentally idolize a method into part of their philosophy. The two parts play off one another, for sure, and it is healthy to fellowship with people who have philosophies that are pleasing in God’s sight, but we need to remember not to made gods out of  our preferences. It is not a sin to have preferences. In fact, it is good to have them, especially when it comes to what you will or won’t let your teenage daughter wear, but as Christian women, we should not allow ourselves to let them become our religion.

For example, my two closest friends are women who have very opposite approaches to (look out!!) birthing methods. One prefers home birth, the other prefers the whole hospital experience. I’ve done both, and certainly have preferences, but I also see the appeal to the other approach. Obviously, we  all have different opinions about what environment and resources we want our baby born in and  we all practice our preferences. This has not once cause strife in the friendship, to the best my knowledge. In fact, it is often the subject of our jokes. We are each confident in our decisions and don’t allow our preference to be part of our identity, which means that nobody is threatened or feels the need to get worked up over our differences. In short, we handle this difference in a manner more often seen in men then in women. Both my friends visited me when I had a hospital birth and when I had a home birth. They were happy for me despite our differences and we could fellowship freely. Sadly, often I have seen this subject in particular create barriers in fellowship between women. Even topics of lesser gravity; cosleeping, cio, cribs, breastfeeding and all the controversy that surrounds it, VBAC, formula, EBF, child led weaning, ERF, even what kinds of food we feed our families (special diets like organic, vegetarian, factory farmed, or the more extreme), or what cleaners we like to use, favorite tv shows and books. When it comes to women, it seems like if you have a preference, there is always someone out there who is hell bent on making sure you know you are wrong for choosing it. Sometimes all it takes is a passing comment to set off a barrage of passive aggressive (or just plain aggressive) arguments on why what you think isn’t optimal in their sight. It can be maddening and exhausting to have to strategize everything you say to avoid conflict. We should always think before we speak, but that is not the same thing as tip toeing around subjects. If someone has to tiptoe around you, eventually, they will grow weary of it and go elsewhere to fellowship. We should be able to disagree in an honest, gracious and God glorifying way. In my opinion, if you can’t disagree with someone amicably, then you probably shouldn’t be voicing your opinions at all. Feel free to disagree with me, though….

Admittedly, it is a work in progress for myself. I do some work online interacting with women I don’t personally know  on a daily basis, which is why this issue comes to my attention repeatedly. Often I’ll see women who are asking for help on a topic, but have to preface their question with “please don’t bash me for this”, and unfortunately, that preface is smart (although often ineffective). I once saw a woman respond that you probably had made the wrong choice if you had to ask people not to bash you for it. “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) No, I am not equating internet arguments with Christ dying for a sins, but the point is effective, even when you are doing the right thing, someone is gonna bash you for it. I’ve even heard it said that if you are a Christian and someone isn’t mad at you, you aren’t doing it right. That one has kept my brain busy for some time now.

It is Up to You

So application, which is going to be flimsy since I’m a newbie, myself, but here goes:

  • Don’t moralize non-moral issues. If you feel yourself getting worked up over someone elses preferences, even if they worded it indelicately and thereby practically asked for an argument, it is probably a good idea to examine your position, thoughts and motives and make sure they are glorifying to God.
  • When writing, texting or typing (any medium where the recipient isn’t right in front of you), imagine your audience is sitting next to you. One of the biggest problems with the internet is that it allows anonymity, which is very, very bad. We all need accountability. We are sinners by nature and being allowed to do, or say things without consequences is just asking for trouble! You are you, you are a child of God, don’t say something you’d never say to a person face to face. Also recognize that often online, you aren’t just speaking to one person, you are speaking to literally thousands and you can’t pick who does or does not see what you have said.
  • Train yourself to be more neutral on non-moral topics. This one is a bit tricky since we all have reasons for our preferences. The most helpful thing I have found is to remember that with methods, what I find best for my situation may not be best for this other situation. So if someone asks for advice, give it, but give it in a way that your preferences don’t become a moral high-ground. Avoiding inflammatory language is also a helpful way to smooth rough waters and reestablish camaraderie.
  • Defend whoever is getting pummelled, regardless of your personal preference. We are God’s people. We are called to protect the weak. Anytime someone is getting the snot beaten out of them and you can take a hit for them, do it, but do it in a way where you are blameless, which is much easier said then done. Don’t sin. Just don’t. If you can’t protect someone weaker than you without having to apologize later, then you need to level up your skills. Don’t pass an opportunity by to glorify God  because you are unprepared. Make sure you have the time, energy, and attention (this means no neglecting the responsibilities put before you to take care of a problem over there) to engage prior to getting involved. As a general rule, I try not to log on until my chores are done and, if my children are awake at the time, I am prepared to put the computer aside at a moments notice.
  • And lastly, man up. You need to be prepared for people to disagree with you, and you need to be prepared for them to do so in an ungracious way. If your children, family, home, attitude, chores, or ability to fellowship with “haters” is going to be effected by interacting with them, it is better not to get involved at all. Basically, if hubby comes home to find you in a mood or weeping due to an online altercation, you aren’t a good candidate for online discussions.

It is a lot of work to disagree in a Godly way. Sometimes I am tempted to not bother at all, but that would be a cop out for me. I know I can glorify God more by learning the discipline of kindly discussing topics and defending the weaker online, and as long as that doesn’t interfere with my immediate responsibilities (as I mentioned above) it is healthy..(.and sometimes I can make money doing it ;-)) I have learned and continue to learn how to proof myself against letting disagreements get to me. It has taken time and deliberate planning and I know sometimes I have failed. I try not to get online or read inflammatory articles when I am especially tired, or feeling particularly contrary. Like I mentioned before, I get my house cleaned up, and laundry in the machine, kids down for naps or playing happily in the real world before jumping into the digital world. I’m learning not to be easily offended. Learning not to be unnecessarily aggressive and yet not be a doormat.   Learning what battles are worth the fight and which ones to ignore. It’s a work in progress, but it is one to consider working on, at the very least, it is something to be aware of.

I’m not trying to “jump” on anyone in particularly. I am not referring to any single instance. I am not trying to be unkind and I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on the topic. I’ve been in chat rooms (which I tend to avoid now because I don’t have that kind of uninterrupted time to devote) and online forums and blogs for roughly 15 years. This is simply a problem I’ve noticed crop up regularly.

So tell me, what tips do you have for interacting online without loosing your identity in Christ?


Abra’s Hostessing Rules

Being a good hostess is a noble calling. There are few things in life that minister better to a person then having a full belly and good fellowship. It takes a good sense of hospitality and generosity to pull it off. Like most things worthwhile, hostessing can be a blessing or a curse to yourself and everyone around you. There are a few basic rules that I have come up with for myself and thought I’d share them since they have made my experiences better when I apply them. Obviously, my list isn’t complete since I am always learning and these specifically address the pitfalls I am inclined to. Your input or added “rules” are welcomed.

  1. The number one cardinal rule of hostessing is Thou Shall Not Have a Bad Attitude. For me, this means not allowing myself to become stressed (with anything, including prep work and the condition of my home). I am rather prone to biting off more then I can chew in the hostessing department, leaving me with food that doesn’t taste just right and a home that isn’t clean enough. The hostess can set the tone for the whole experience. If she is stressed or tense or dissatisfied, it will radiate to everyone else. Children aren’t stupid, they know when something is up with mom. Any adult worth their salt is going to feel any negative vibes coming off their hostess and that will easily make what could have been an enjoyable evening miserable. If I can’t be relaxed and cheerful, then I need to put a hold on hostessing until I can be. It is better to have cheerful imperfection then sour perfection.
  2. Thou Shall Not Become a Cleaning Fiend. Of course, as a hostess, you’ll do your best to keep your home presentable, but especially if you have young children, don’t allow the condition of your home become more important then the people in it. Keep your home sanitary and smelling good. Try to find a place for everything and lend, store or giveaway the rest. But if there are toys laying about and some crayon marks on the wall*, don’t worry about it. You live there. Children live there. The fact that it shows is a blessing. One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen is suffocating cleanliness of a home without children (this might have something to do with the fact that I grew up in a big family, though. At the very least, your guests should not be afraid of ruining something through normal use.) Homes are meant to be lived in, not tiptoed through. Additionally, there is a big difference between a college student’s messy house and the messiness of a family home. There should never be dishes molding in the sink, but same day dirty dishes is not something to be ashamed of when you have happy children and a cheerful attitude. *Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work brilliantly on crayon marks, by the way.
  3. Thou Shall Not Allow Your Level of Domesticity or Finances Hinder Hostessing. Some women have a knack for the gourmet. They can whip out a delicious several course meal effortlessly and have a clean house to boot..and to these women I say, more power to them! But I can honestly say that some of my favorite memories of fellowshipping with friends was done over take out pizza and cheap wine in a home that was definitely being live in. Franzia can gladded our hearts just as well as Guigal La Turque Cote Rotie. Baked potatoes, chicken soup or mac & cheese can fill a belly just as easily as trout fillets with mint pipián. Serve yummy food and good fellowship. It doesn’t matter what that looks like or what the price tag is.
  4. Thou Shall Not Compare. Every now and then something will come up and Ben will ask incredulously, “Women really do that?!” Comparing domestic skills and domestic experiences are in that category. While it is unwise to compare anyone, it is especially unwise to compare and measure your domestic skills against the other women you know (or don’t know). We are all blessed with different gifts and some of us have to work harder then others at various tasks. No good can come from comparing. There are usually only two outcomes from any given personal comparison. 1) Discouragement or 2)Unseemly Pride. It is very rare that I ever find comparing uplifting and helpful. This is not to say that it never happens, it us just uncommon for me. Maybe I should work on that.

Other various tips I’ve picked up for the comfort of both hostess and guests:

  • When having families over for dinner, serve food that isn’t time sensitive.
  • Whenever especially busy, buy premade food or make food that can be prepared in advance.
  • For the comfort of everyone, serve food that isn’t especially messy or gets stuck in your teeth…unless it’s a real causal meal (ribs, corn on the cob) and you plan on providing them with everything they need to clean up afterwards.
  • During the summer months that aren’t unbearably hot, serve dinner outside. Using paper plates makes clean up so much easier!
  • Don’t stress about the after meal clean up. Do it the next day or in spurts so no one feels the pressure to jump in and help unless they really want to.
  • Provide children with space and toys where they can just go crazy without ruining anything.
  • Remember that stuff is just stuff. If something gets broken, it shouldn’t be a big deal. If something is so valuable or special that it would be horrible to lose, put it somewhere safe.
  • Don’t plan on inviting friends over if you are already stressed or having a busy week. There’s nothing wrong with practicing your hostessing skills on your family.
  • Be flexible.

For Steph

” Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
-Isaiah 57:2

Tony, Zoe & Stephanie Perfect