Why I’ve Cooled on Twitter and Facebook

I have been a Twitter user since February 2007. At first I did not use Twitter too much. But after I found TweetDeck I discovered that Twitter could be a very useful too. I was able to connect with people, get news stories, and ended up discovering new things on the internet. Some of the webpages others pointed me to were of great help. Some of the conversations were good too. Yet, as of late, I am cooling toward Twitter.

I am not sure how long I have been using Facebook . It is a great service. I have been able to keep in touch with friends, family, and various church members. Yet, I am cooling toward Facebook too.

Why am I cooling to these services? One word: Distractions. Over time I began to realize how distracting these tools can be. While I believe there is a place for these tools, I am also finding that for much of what I need to be doing distractions are a killer. There have been various studies reporting that multitasking is a pipe dream. Even though we believe we are multitasking, the tasks we are working on all suffer.

So, I have decided to cool it on Twitter and Facebook. I am still trying to find a place for them in my life and from time to time I will check in with both services, but for the time being, I am going to focus…on focus.

The Last Goodbye Revisited

Grief is a funny thing. As a pastor, I’ve read about grief, I’ve studied it and I’ve watched people go through it. Yet, I am still surprised. I was surprised this morning to find myself in tears after a dream I had about my father. My father died in September. Here it is in May and I thought I was finished with grief. I was wrong.

One of the principles of Adrian van Kaam’s Formative Spirituality is appraisal. Van Kaam’s science maintains that everything is important. Even the most mundane and boring moments in our lives are pregnant with God’s formative potential. So, whenever an event happens, we pause and ask ourselves “what is going on here?” Living out a Formation Theology means not allowing events to pass through our fingers without appraising it in light of formation journey.

I did that this morning. After the dream and the tears I asked myself, “Why?” Why now? What’s going on that I would dream about my father who died in September? I thought I was over my grief. I thought it was all in my past. Why would I have such a dream now?

I’m not sure I fully have the answers to that, but what I have realized is that since my father’s death I have been extremely busy. That explains why the last post on this site is from January. I began wondering if my grief and my busyness were related. Could it be that I have been trying to numb real pain and feelings of loss by filling my schedule with important, but time consuming, activities? Could this explain why I have been struggling with spending time in silence?

Even though I wouldn’t call the relationship I had with my dad “close” or “nurturing” he was still an important (although at times neglected) part of my life. As Formative Science would point out, he was an integral part of my “formation field” which has a great impact on who I become as a person. He had been placed in my life to help me become who I was created to be. God used both the positive and negative aspects of our relationship to form me into….me.

I’m still appraising this event and I’m sure there is more depth here than what I realize at this point. Nevertheless, if you are reading this, I encourage you to spend time appraising the events in your life. Don’t allow the events of your life to slip through your fingers. You are always being formed by those events. They affect you and effect you in both positive and negative ways. All of these events are gifts and are provided so you might become who you were meant to be. That is your journey and your task.

False Significance

Here’s a quote from Susan Muto’s work “Where Lovers Meet: Inside the Interior Castle.” This work is a companion or commentary to St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle” classic on the spiritual life. Here Muto is discussing St. Teresa’s ‘vipers’ that one encounters as he or she seeks to draw near to God:

The viper’s trick is to deceive us into thinking that temporal affairs escalate in significance to the point where they almost seem the eternal. They try to deceive us into believing that worldly success will grant us at some point ultimate satisfaction. This illusion blinds us to the inherent finitude of earthbound affairs. However splendid our accomplishments may be, their outcomes pass away over time if we do not give the credit to God. The way of the vipers is to hold before our mind’s eye the esteem in which the world holds us when we exercise this kind of activism. They make us secretly relish people’s praise. Our pride-form allures us into thinking that our worthwhileness rests on the works in which we are engaged rather than in the God we serve. These clever devils also try to convince us that any kind of withdrawal to worship God in solitude is a big mistake. What will the other “worker bees” think of us if we take time to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)?

I believe these comments stand on their own. For me, it is a point of reflection as I seek to live out my faith as true significance only comes from resting in God.

The Last Goodbye

It was the last goodbye. The only thing was, I didn’t know it at the time. My father seemed like he was feeling better. It had been a week since we learned the news that he had cancer. Before that, he simply wasn’t feeling right. After a couple of weeks of feeling bad he decided to go to the hospital. There he received medical attention and started feeling better.

Then there was the surgery. They needed to remove fluid buildup. After that, he said he felt much better. In fact, he wanted to go back home, but not eating much in the previous three weeks left him weak. This meant he would go to a nursing home/rehab facility until he could get his strength back.

When I saw him he was in good spirits. He talked about going home on Friday, but since he wasn’t able to get in to see the oncologist the trip home would have to wait. They needed to hear from the doctor before they would release him from rehabilitation.

My time in Forsyth was mostly spent sitting in his room talking with him, well, actually he did most of the talking, but I sat and listened. I realized that was the best thing I could do at the time. I heard stories that I knew and a few that I didn’t.

It was Wednesday when I saw him last. We had made a trip to the doctor’s office to see his surgery doctor. It was there dad learned that he would be staying in the rehab center a bit longer. He took the news in stride. He wanted to go home, but he knew that he would have to wait. He said it was fine. He said at least at the rehab center he had people bringing him his food and washing his clothes.

Wednesday night we sat together and watched a children’s choir from a local church. It looked like they had all ages from kindergarten to middle school. In total, there were seven children. Not a big group, but from the looks on the faces of those sitting in the dining hall it didn’t matter. My dad enjoyed it immensely.

After the children finished singing we sat and talked with a couple of friends of his who came to visit. Dad had been on a couple of mission trips with them (my dad went on mission trips even though he was in his mid 80s). It was a good visit.

After the festivities I said my goodbyes. I was getting up the next morning and traveling home. I had no idea it would be the last goodbye. I had no idea that three days later he would no longer be with us, but rather he would be in the hands of God who loved him and who he loved.

I want to thank all of you for the cards, the words, the prayers, the help and the hugs you have given to my family and me these past few weeks. Many of you have walked this road. Some of you are walking it right now. Not knowing when that last goodbye will come. I have felt your prayers and love. It makes a huge difference. Thank you!!!

I guess I’m learning that sometimes it is good to put things on hold. Sometimes the best thing that we can do is take the time to be with those we love because none of us know when the goodbye will be the last.

His Dream Coming True

 

 

My son has waited six years to play football. He has been watching football since he was in kindergarten. For some reason, he fell in love with the game. I use to be able to amaze people by having my first grader count by 7’s. Why did he know how to count by 7’s? Because that’s how many points you get for a touchdown and extra point. He could also count by 3’s pretty well too.

Even when he was in 3rd or 4th grade I would catch him on a Saturday morning watching Sportscenter rather than cartoons. He would also watch various college games too. He was basically a football fanatic. Men at church would ask him various things about the game, or how a NFL team was doing, or other similar questions. He wouldn’t miss a beat.

Adding to the mix was his love of playing Madden Football on his XBox. He got pretty good too. I would play him and he understood defenses, offences, etc. He knew what defense to play by just knowing how many receivers and tight ends I had in the formation. He would sit at the high school games and give running commentary onto how the team could change their formation to stop the full back from eating up yards.

He couldn’t wait to get out there and play. Since we are pretty engaged on Sunday mornings, he never was able to play Pop Warner football. That meant, he would have to wait and play football at the school, which meant, he would have to wait until 6th grade.

His day has finally come. He is now a sixth grader. The picture in this post is from the first scrimmage at the football jamboree. After two weeks of practice (which were a lot harder than he thought), they got on a bus, made a 45 minute trip, and lined up against two different schools.

The picture above is of my son before they went on the field. He is pretty easy to see. Just look for the only child wearing his helmet. The rest of the team had their helmets off since two other schools were on the field. Their time had not yet come. Yet, my son chose to keep his helmet on.

I told his sisters (who also made the trip) that it didn’t matter who was playing, Joshua was ready to get into the game. He was ready no matter what. His helmet was on, he was ready to go. Even though he was a bit afraid, he was still ready to get in the game.

His dream was to play football. Now, he is on the team. It is different from what he thought. It is a new thing. It is bringing many surprises…some good…some not so good. I don’t know if he will stick with it or not. So far he is.

I’m still learning things from this. I’m learning about dreams. I’m learning about dreaming for something that seems so far off. I’m learning that sometimes our dreams don’t match the reality of when they are realized. Sometimes realizing a dream is harder than we ever imagined (The 2 hour practices can be real tough in August heat). Sometimes it is just different. Yet, there he is wearing his helmet. Ready. Willing. Able.

Maybe it doesn’t matter if my dreams come true, or if they’re different, or harder. Maybe its more important that no matter what happens, or how different reality is from my dreams, I need to make sure to have my helmet on. You never know when you will get a chance to get in the game.