Social media: not getting in my way

I’ve been journaling since the third grade. Yes, I literally record pretty much every moment of my entire life via written word and/or photographs. That’s just how I am. It’s really no wonder I became a journalist and started documenting other people’s lives.

Snapping a pic of my meal this evening didn't ruin any memories in the making.
Snapping a pic of my meal this evening didn’t ruin any memories in the making.

I love life. I love my life. I love seeing other people’s lives because I love people. I love people because I love God, and God tells us to love people. I enjoy seeing people’s lives on social media, and I equally enjoy sharing my own. I don’t believe it has in any way, shape, or form, had a negative impact on how I experience life.

There’s no question that many people spend too much time on social media. However, I’m tired of feeling attacked and seeing all these blog posts and videos and status updates about “missing life” because  you’re putting something on Instagram, writing a status update or Tweeting.

Excuse me… what?

If Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, are a problem for you, than that’s exactly what it is: a problem for you.

I’ve been in Uganda for almost 10 months now. One of my favorite things to do when I get homesick is look back through photos on my Instagram from when I was home. It reminds me of home, and it makes my heart so incredibly happy! Do I regret the 25 seconds I took out of my day to post a picture of me and my niece a year ago- a photo that would bring me happiness in the present as well as in the future? Of course not! I didn’t “miss” anything. If anything, I captured a moment so I could cherish it forever.

There’s no need to knock people who make the choice to not utilize social media to document their lives, but I also don’t see the reason to criticize those of us who do.

Life is beautiful. I love to share that life with my friends and family who want to see it. And honestly, I know a few people who have lost family photos and journals to house fires, hurricanes, tornados, etc., who would give anything to have those memories back. I love the fact that my memories are somewhere reasonably safe- on social media.

Getting a picture with my friends only helps me remember the fun we had this evening!
Getting a picture with my friends only helps me remember the fun we had this evening!

Isn’t it slightly ironic that the same people telling others to get off social media have invested a great deal of their time writing blogs and making videos about staying off social media? Not to mention the fact that social media will be what propels their very argument?

Tonight we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We took lots of pictures, and I will post them on Instagram, Facebook, etc. I’ve even posted them with this blog post. For me it didn’t interrupt my moment or my memory. In fact, it will do just the opposite. I believe it will enhance my memories.

Don’t tell people they are “missing life” because they happen to live their life differently from you. If social media is getting in your own way of living life, then of course, you need to back off. But some of us love life, and we love sharing it. I am overjoyed with the blessings God has given me, and I’m not going to stop sharing that with the world.

I get it. But in a way, I don’t…

IMG_4833I get it. A&E censored a Christian from speaking his mind. It’s not the first time a Christian has been censored. It won’t be the last.

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” 2 Timothy 3:12

I get it. It’s frustrating that everyone else in America can express their opinions, freely worship and denounce things they don’t believe in, unless you’re a Christian. In that case, the world wants you to be silent. But God never told us it would be easy. He flat out told us we would suffer.

“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:17

I get it. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. It says the same about drunkenness, adultery, fornication, gluttony, idolatry, jealousy, etc. etc. Everyone else’s sins seem so much worse than your own, don’t they? So you hate. You’re tired of rights being given to people who sin. You see these people as your enemies.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

I get it. I may not agree with you, but I get it. It’s ruined your week and maybe even your holiday to know that a Christian spoke his mind and was then persecuted for it. Now, your favorite television show might not be on the air anymore.

But I ask you this holiday season to open your eyes. Think about the things that are getting you fired up. Is it politics? Is it Obamacare? Is it A&E and Duck Dynasty? Is it Miley Cyrus? Think about the things that, as a Christian, make you the angriest. And then, think about these things:

InIMG_3875 September I met a little boy here in Uganda who survived child sacrifice. He’s been through multiple surgeries because his head was literally cut open with an ax. He was one of the lucky ones because he survived. Here in Uganda, witchdoctors sacrifice children. They spare no mercy when it comes to abducting a child, chopping them up for body parts and organs and leaving them for dead.

The other day I went with some co-workers to a local orphanage. The place is filthy. The playground is insanely dangerous. The orphans’ noses run with no one to wipe them. Bath time means fitting as many children in a tub at one time and hosing them down like they were dishes or something. Orphanages like this are all over the city of Kampala.

To the north of Uganda is South Sudan. So not only does the violence in South Sudan hit close to home because it’s literally close to home, but one of my best friends here is from South Sudan. She has family and friends there, and has to wonder each day whether or not they will fall victim to the violence.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. I wouldn’t be the one to say, “Look at what’s making you upset! And yet there are people dying because of such corruption and evil in the world!” But then I started to wonder… maybe that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do. Maybe part of the reason I’m here is to tell you about these things, to tell you that they are really happening.IMG_3976

As a Christian, what makes your blood boil? What gets under your skin? Is it the fact that your favorite reality television star was suspended? Are you going to let that ruin your day when there are people dying in South Sudan, children being sacrificed in Uganda, and orphans being treated like animals?

I’m not saying that it shouldn’t irritate you that Christians are so often censored and persecuted. I get it. It irritates me, too, but the Bible warned us about this, over and over again.

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” 1 John 3:13

I get why Christians are upset about A&E. I get why homosexuals are upset about Duck Dynasty. I get it. But when I’m seeing the things I see here and experiencing the things I experience here, I really don’t get it.

Open your eyes. There’s so much more going on.

In defense of the “selfie”…

IMG_20131116_051646Annoying. Narcissistic. Those are the two words one of my Facebook friends had to say about people who take selfies. I know plenty of people who would agree with him. But I would like to defend the selfie-  the photographs we take of ourselves and post on social media.

Argument #1: You post pics of your kids. I don’t have any, so I post pics of myself.
The number one group of people I see knocking the selfie are those with children. The people who post photo after photo of their child doing this and that are annoyed by the rest of us posting pictures of ourselves. It makes perfect sense that a parent’s life would revolve around his or her children. It should. If you don’t have children, who does your life revolve around? Yourself. It doesn’t mean your selfish, it just means you’re at a different stage in life.

Argument #2: There’s a difference between posting a selfie and being narcissistic.
“I am looking so fine today! #gorgeous #beautiful #hotmama.” “Be jealous ladies! You don’t look this good and you never will! #Ilookgood.” Even Instagram posts like that make my skin crawl. There’s a huge difference between taking a nice picture of yourself and announcing to the world how hot you think you are.

Argument #3: What happened to promoting confidence?
Posting a selfie doesn’t mean you love yourself so much that you have to show everyone how you look all the time, but don’t we promote an attitude of confidence this day and age? Aren’t we supposed to be telling younger generations that they should feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel pressured to look like super models? If I feel confident enough to think, “I look nice today!” is there really something so terrible about posting a selfie? There’s such a false connotation with being confident these days and it being mistaken for narcissism. Taking selfies of yourself and posting them all over your room? Now THAT’S narcissism.

Argument #4: Believe it or not, some people do want to see selfies.IMG_20130911_101949
I moved to Uganda almost four months ago. My close friends and family members don’t get to see me except for the photos I post on Facebook. These people flat out tell me that they enjoy seeing my face and how I’m doing in Uganda. I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there who the only way people ever see them is on social media. Whether it’s a photo you took of yourself or one someone else took of you, what does it matter?

Argument #5: Who cares?
I take people off my Facebook newsfeed, Twitter and Instagram all the time when I get tired of their political and religious rants. If you’re tired of people’s selfies, I suggest you do the same.

As you can see from the pictures in this post, I do take selfies. Not on a daily or even weekly basis, but every once in awhile I will take a selfie. For me, this is actually quite a testament to how far I’ve come. Let me explain.

Throughout high school, college and in my 20’s, I never felt pretty. I never felt like I was even remotely attractive. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly realized I wasn’t all that unfortunate looking. For me to take a picture of myself and post it where people can see it shows how my confidence has grown, and it’s also a part of my testimony.IMG_20130724_181827

Like everyone else, I was created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27) Once I truly accepted God’s love for me and found my full worth in Him, my confidence soared. I began to feel beautiful on the inside, and that confidence radiated to my exterior as well. I am confident in being the woman God created me to be. I don’t see what’s so narcissistic about that.

“Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.”

Psalms 20:7

The makeup-less “hero”…

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, dogs and cats, and anyone else who reads this blog post: I want you to know that I am about to become a hero.

maekup

There. See that picture of me with my hair in a towel? That’s fresh out of the shower. I’m not wearing any makeup.

I’m waiting… are you clapping? Are you preparing my award? No?!

Lately there’s been this “movement” all about not wearing makeup. Women are going weeks or months or even an entire year without makeup to show that they are OK with themselves. They refuse to hide behind the makeup anymore! A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about a woman who went a year without makeup. One of her other friends commented on it and said, “Bravo for this brave woman for seeing the joy in her own internal beauty!”

Since when did not wearing makeup make someone a hero? I see people putting these “non-makeup wearers” on some sort of pedestal calling them “brave” and “confident.” I read a story a few months ago about these girls in Texas who were “taking a stand” and not wearing makeup their entire senior year or something like that. Wait… what? A stand for what?  Instead of not wearing makeup for a year, why don’t these girls volunteer somewhere? Why not show the importance of inner beauty by working with young girls at a group home or something?

I found this article, “Women Goes Without Makeup for a Year”  and the very first sentence threw me off:

“One brave woman is doing perhaps what most females wish they could – forgo all make up, trips to the salon, and beauty products for an entire year.”
 
Most females would love to not wear makeup? Not go to the salon? My friends and I love going to the salon, putting on makeup, and simply being a woman! If not doing those things makes you brave, we must be a bunch of cowards.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I “get” it. We’re all to appreciate our natural beauty, what God has given us. My friend Catie pointed out that makeup actually accentuates what God has given us. So what’s wrong with that? Nothing. I’m sorry if I’m not buying into this whole, “no makeup” movement to prove to people that I’m OK with myself. I am OK with myself, whether I’m wearing makeup or not.
 
moie
I don’t wear makeup to hide who I am. I don’t wear makeup because I feel uncomfortable without it. A few weeks ago I went to see a movie with my niece, I didn’t wear any makeup, and I even posted a picture! Apparently to some people, that would make me a bit of a hero.
 
In general, I love makeup. I’m by no means a pro at putting it on. I really don’t wear a ton, and I don’t even know the proper techniques for putting on three shades of eye shadow. But I love buying makeup, putting it on, and trying new looks. It’s one of my favorite things about  being a woman.
 
And when it comes to dating and marriage, of course I want a man who will love my natural beauty, but I also want a man who sees me dressed up and wearing my favorite lipgloss and appreciates the fact that I took time to look extra special for him.
 
If there are women out there who need to go through a self-discovery phase by not wearing makeup, then that’s fine. Good for them, but I don’t think it needs to be such a huge deal. There are bigger things women can do to promote having self-confidence and a healthy self-esteem. I also don’t think women who do wear makeup, and enjoy it, should be torn down or called insecure because they are “hiding” behind the makeup.
 
I’m simply a woman who loves girly things. I thank God that I am a woman, and there’s nothing insecure about that.
 

The curse of seeing someone’s potential…

1237608_trophy“Potential has a shelf life.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

It’s typically thought of as a positive thing, to see the good in everyone. I am one of those people who instantly recognizes someone’s potential. In all honesty, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

If potential were a trophy, I see almost everyone I know carrying it. The problem is, not everyone is lifting that trophy up, some aren’t even looking at it, while others are kicking it around on the ground with no plans to ever pick it up.

Seeing the potential in people can be heartbreaking when they don’t reach that potential. It’s a dangerous road to travel when you see potential in the wrong people and when you let it consume you. I’ve experienced this heartbreak as a teacher and as someone who has been in relationships with guys who have so much “potential.” Right now I’m struggling with the latter.

Seeing potential in the opposite sex

Seeing someone’s potential as a future husband or wife can be very dangerous. Seeing what someone “could” be is so intensely different from what they actually are. When it comes to dating, I have learned that you must see someone for what they are at that present time.

I’m not saying you might not meet someone who just needs a little encouragement or support. I’m talking about the jerks, the players, the non-committers, or some other type of guy or girl who has qualities that make them a poor choice for a life partner. You can’t consider their potential. You must consider the present, and if it isn’t good, move on.

Potential… according to who?

There are two specific guys from my past that I have always believed have all the potential in the world, but they refuse to grow up. I see they have the potential to be two of the greatest guys in all of Fort Wayne, quite possibly all of Indiana or even the entire country, but both of them refuse to live up to this potential I see in them. They are nowhere near reaching their full potential as professional, beautiful, outstanding men on this planet!

They might not ever reach their full potential. But “potential” according to who?

According to me.

 If their potential is just my opinion, the only one they’re really disappointing is me. Why am I so concerned about them reaching what I think their potential is, especially when it’s only disappointing me? Probably because I love them both way too much. It’s not a situation of being “in” love or wanting to be with either of them, I just plain love these two guys with all my heart. When you love someone, you want them to succeed and be the best version of them they can possibly be.

Letting go of potential

If you’re like me and you see the great potential for someone who isn’t interested in reaching it, maybe it’s time to let it go. Pray for that person, but stop letting it tear you up inside that they aren’t what YOU think they should be. If someone doesn’t want to be a better person, that’s their choice. You can’t force them.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to see people’s true potential, but I guess I need to just see that potential and then let it go. Otherwise, I’ll continue to fall for guys and their awesome potential, not who they really are.

What about your own potential?IMG_20130504_232645

I think people like me get so caught up in other people’s potential that we forget about our own. I’m sure if I asked God if I was living up to my potential, He would say I’m not. I imagine He would say no one is. Who knows, maybe there’s a guy out there who wishes I would live up to my potential.

If seeing someone’s potential is tearing you up inside, let it go. Spend more time worrying about your own potential. There’s a good chance you’re not reaching yours either.

We may not care, but I’m glad someone does…

Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to help. God gave me a heart for the poor, especially theIMG_3029 poor in other countries. When I see poor people, my heart breaks. I don’t question why they are poor or accuse them of being lazy. The things I’ve seen in Niger and Nicaragua are so heartbreaking that it makes me want to do all I can to help.

“What about the homeless in America? Don’t we have enough people to help here?”

That’s a common statement from many people here in the U.S. Honestly, it holds no weight with me when it comes from people who aren’t doing anything about the people in the U.S. that they claim to be so concerned about. Who are they to judge my passion and tell me I should be more concerned about something else?

1403438_jacky_-_our_young_jack_russel_dogYears ago, I remember getting frustrated at a commercial for the SPCA. Dogs? People were concerned about animals when we had people dying in the world! How ridiculous is that? But then I realized, what if no one cared about the animals? What if no one was their advocate?

God gave everyone a heart for something or someone different. If we all cared only about the homeless in America, we’d be in some major trouble.

Who would help those in countries where their own governments won’t help?

Who would look out for the animals and their safety?

Who would work at nursing homes to take care of the elderly?

Who would stand up for our planet and work at keeping it clean and beautiful?

While someone else’s passion might not be the same as yours, it’s important to realize that EVERY passion for humanity, animals and the planet is necessary for our world to survive.

Some people don’t understand my passion for Africa. I don’t know where it comes from, other than it’s the heart God gave me. I look at my friend Kim who works with special ed kids all day long, and I don’t understand her heart. It’s a heart I don’t have. While I hurt for those kids, I don’t have the desire to work with them.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but I wish some people would be more sensitive to the different passions we all have. We think the world is falling apart right now, just imagine what it would be like if NO ONE cared about the kids in Africa, the animals, or taking care of our planet.

I don’t have a burning passion for animals or making sure the planet is taken care of, but I’m glad that someone does.

High-quality H2O? Today is World Water Day

bobbleI’ve always found it hard to truly enjoy water unless I was completely, 100% parched. That is, until I got a Bobble. Maybe it’s because it’s cute. It has a red top and filter. It’s design is fun and the bottle is squeezable. The name alone – Bobble- is fun to say. And, of course, the water is delicious.

Since I got my Bobble, my water intake has drastically increased. Nearly every hour I’m heading to the water fountain to fill my Bobble with filtered water, which will then pass through an additional filter before reaching my mouth and making me happy. That’s some seriously “high quality H2O” that Water Boy’s Bobby Boucher would be proud of.

Today is World Water Day. How often do we, in America, really even think about water? It’s such a huge part of our everyday lives that we don’t even notice it. Water isn’t only readily available, but clean, fresh, cold and hot water is readily available to almost everyone. Some people even spend a couple bucks on a bottle of water, one of which they picked out of dozens of choices.

Such is not the case in most places in the world, and I have seen this with my own two eyes. The photo at the top is a stream of water in the village of Terencio in Nicaragua. I took this photo when I was there on a mission trip in 2011. Can you even imagine bathing in that water, let alone drinking it? In some places, they have no choice. That is 480633_10151287503896573_1606328051_nthe only source of water available to them. That picture isn’t of a puddle, it’s of a stream. Often their only source of water.

The picture on the right is one I took in Niger, Africa, where most of their water supply comes from the Niger River, an obviously unclean river. With half the country being covered by the Sahara Desert, water isn’t easy to come by.

According to the World Water Day website, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

It breaks my heart when I think of Mayrober, my sponsor child in Nicaragua, having to live with filthy, disease-infested water, as well as all the beautiful children and adults I met while in Niger. I’m thankful that Food for the Hungry and other organizations are doing all they can to bring clean water to these communities.

Take a moment to visit the World Water Day website to learn more about “focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources”. Be thankful today as you drink a glass of water. Not everyone on this planet can get a cool glass of water whenever they please.

World Water Facts and Figures