April 26, 2018

Community and social media

I finally decided I would get back and connect with all of my readers on this blog. After a long struggle with caregiving for my mom, she is now in a nursing home, so others can care for her, and selling our house, and finally helping with wheat harvest this year, we are now in Branson, for a couple of weeks of vacation. Earlier this week, Marcia and I signed up to help churches with their growth and outreach ministries. We get training this September in St. Louis. Its part of the outreach ministry of our church’s synod, Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. So, I got to thinking about why churches are struggling so much in today’s society with reaching out to new members and even maintaining their membership. Certainly the current political and social environment in the United States is undermining, perhaps destroying, many of the foundations of the church. We read almost daily where Christians are forbidden to share their faith in a variety of settings. This last week, the National Guard was forbidden to visit a Christian Vacation Bible School, yet they could attend a gay march in Washington. So, I did a google search on Christians and social media. I found this article below, published last year by Charismanews.com


Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Some points to consider

  • Yes, we all need to belong. I had an interesting conversation with a woman camping next door to us. She said that she had been searching all her life for a church that welcomed and ministered to the needs of someone who had suffered physical and mental abuse as a child. All the churches she approached couldn’t give her the kind of community she desired. She was in this Missouri area looking for a new type of ministry that could make her feel she belonged.
  • So, is facebook a real community or just a fake one. It certainly allows a person to connect with others are some level, but the author makes a good point that it normally doesn’t create long term meaningful relationships on the whole.
  • The author suggests small groups are the answer for Christians to create real community. Having been a member of several small groups in the past, I would agree. But now that Marcia and I are mobile, ie, on the road much of the time, participating in a small group is difficult. Also people’s business and other commitments make it difficult to participate in small groups. Also most churches can’t get a strong small group program up and running. Not sure why, but at least in the current format, it appears to me small groups are not a very effective tool in most churches, particularly small churches. So what is the answer to real community?
  • So, is dialog e-journaling as presented in this blog an answer?
  • How could it be used in a church setting? Or should it?

Something for me to explore in future posts. Please give me your input.

Article from Chrismanews below…………………………………………………………………….

How Should Christians Use Social Media?

Have you learned how to use social media, and to control that use? We all need to belong. From tweeting your latest accomplishment on Twitter to the local library’s book clubs, everyone wants to belong to something, somewhere.

We believe it will bring value to our lives and enrich it in such a way to make us better people. We learn this from the time we are young children, hanging onto the schoolyard fence in the hopes that maybe that popular group of people will look our way and invite us to join their intimate clique. We transform our inner and outward appearance so the people who are most worth our time deem us a valuable part of their community.

Then we become adults. We throw off the chains of high school life just to cross the threshold of adulthood. We believe now we can become the real us, and we won’t have to fake who we are in order to impress others around us.

Wrong. Adulthood forces us to address deeper questions regarding our identity:

What if I never become a successful person in society? What if I never get married? Is this all there is to life? What’s my purpose in life?

We all need (and want) to belong. It’s in our DNA. We can fool ourselves into thinking we can journey through life on our own. With the development and proliferation of technology, it’s possible to meet most basic needs right from the comfort of our own home.

However, the hole within our hearts goes much deeper than our basic needs. It is buried deep within us and lies at the very fiber of our being. Our need for human connection and contact can never be met in a solo effort. Our validation comes from others, and no matter how deep we try to bury it and strive to fill it with material possessions, wealth, and intelligence, the hole never completely fills.

So, we keep searching.

We search for that group of people who will encourage us in our journey through life. We want them to believe in us, accept us for who we are, and, in essence, validate us as human beings.

The Creation of the Pseudo Community

Facebook entered the cyber world as a college site in which students could connect with each other from various dorms, fraternities and sororities, and campuses. Quick on the heels of MySpace, it attracted the attention of the public with its private settings and simpler page design.

When Facebook became open to the general public in the middle of 2007, hundreds of thousands joined in the hopes of networking. It became a new way to connect. It became a pseudo-community, where people could become anyone they wanted to be, all within the safety and comfort of their living room couches. Facebook became the conduit to link people to their past—that person with whom they’d lost connection—and connected them to the people they are in the present.

Social media redefined what it meant to communicate. Soon it replaced phone calls and even e-mails. People were relaying their most private and important information in semi-public status updates on Facebook.

However, Facebook does much more than serve as a conduit for connection. It challenges the very nature of authenticity and identity. With the push of a button, I can transform myself into whoever I want to be. I can add or delete facts about myself, post inspirational quotes to my wall and collect friends like I collect postage stamps. I can transform myself into the very person I wished I were back in high school.

An article in The Atlantic called “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” analyzes the notion that Facebook is increasing isolation and loneliness among users. Author Stephen Marche first explains the difference between being alone and loneliness. Many single people can experience contentment with their current life circumstances, yet people with families can feel alone.

In fact, Marche says Carnegie Mellon conducted a study in the late 1990s that showed Internet users already demonstrated increased loneliness. What separates these two ideas, according to Marche, is the quality of the interactions in one’s life. In other words, one can have many people one considers friends, but not have any confidants with which one can discuss deep personal matters. Facebook allows people to connect with friends, but users still lack the meaningful bond that results from intimate conversation and contact.

The article also reports Facebook creates an increased need for self-promotion and narcissism, and that those who post status updates, collect friends, and chat with friends actually report being less lonely. John Cacioppo, author of Loneliness, does not believe Facebook creates loneliness, but it can perpetuate it if abused.

“Facebook can be terrific, if we use it properly,” he wrote. “It’s like a car. You can drive it to pick up your friends. Or you can drive it alone. … How we use these technologies can lead to more integration, rather than more isolation.”

Marche concludes that Facebook itself doesn’t create loneliness; lonely users only use it as tool to connect with friends. Yet it does not create long-lasting connections as a whole. Marche said, “What Facebook has revealed about human nature – and this is not a minor revelation—is that connection is not the same as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better, or a more liberated version of humanity.”

Make no mistake. I am not advocating you don’t use Facebook. In fact, I believe it can be used as an invaluable resource to connect to people and things unattainable just a few short years ago.

However, we need group interaction now more than ever. One can enjoy a valuable (and therefore valued) life if one decides to make a difference in society. One cannot achieve this without interacting with others.

This is where the church comes in.

The more people engage in the pseudo community, the more isolated they feel. Their longing for authentic, personal connection increases. Small groups provide the gateway to meet that need for connection and community. A small group setting provides the intimate atmosphere in which people can express prayer requests and develop deep, long-lasting relationships with other believers. This is the prime environment for discipleship to take place.

As Christians, we need to use social media as a conduit for initial connection with both Christians and Non-Christians. Because social media may connect people to you, but that interaction might ultimately connect them to Christ.

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Upcoming Journaling Events/Resources

If you haven’t checked out journaltalk, go to write4life.us by Nathan Ohren


Hannah Braime will be presenting with Lynda Monk and Nathan Ohren at the 2nd Annual Journaling Expo on January 12th at 10:00 AM (Pacific Time Zone). Come register for this free event here.

For more info on Hannah’s website and books and courses see below

Journaling with Heart is a new course from Becoming Who You Are that teaches you how to use journaling to deepen your self-knowledge and self-connection. Join us from January 20th and make 2014 the year you develop a kind and supportive relationship with yourself. Click here for more info and to register.”

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Do you journal to self or to serve?

In my study class on Wednesday, we talked about serving others. The concept discussed was that from a Christian perspective, at least, the call to serving others is not just a mystery of faith, but a concrete reality defined by our specific gifts and circumstances. Calls do change people, they are given to us to crucify our sinful egoism.

Quotes - "Life Lived For Others"

Quotes – “Life Lived For Others” (Photo credit: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC))

So, when you Journal, do you do it just for your self, for no. 1, or do you also consider it as an act of service, to touch other’s lives, to reach out to establish a relationship with someone. The concept of “dialog e-journaling” is meant to create some fun, friendship and fulfillment from your life. So, by serving others with dialog in your e-journaling, you will most certainly serve others, establish a closer friendship, and experience a sense of fulfillment by honoring God’s calling to serve in your vocation and in life in general.

So, as you journal today, is it only all about me, or do you want to connect with others?


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Where do you spend your time online? Are you addicted?

On foxnews.com I ran across a study conducted by Experian has revealed that Americans spend the more time on social media sites than any other country, a full 16 minutes for each hour they are on-line. The report quotes Ari Zoldan, president and CEO of Quantum Media Holdings,  who says the numbers aren’t shocking, citing mobile usage taking social media addiction to the next level.

Facebook Addiction Statistics watermarked

Facebook Addiction Statistics  (Photo credit: Life Mental Health)

“It’s a total time zap. If you think about it, we don’t go anywhere
without our mobile phones, we’re always connected with social media,”
Zoldan says. And apparently talking about ourselves and living in infamy on social
media is more interesting to users than news and even celebrities. The
survey found Americans are also spending more time on these sites than
they do on entertainment sites (nine minutes an online hour), online
shopping (five minutes an online hour) and porn (three minutes an online
hour). “Social media has brought us even more into the ‘Me’ generation,”
Zoldan says. “We are totally ego-centric. Do people really care that I
just checked into some museum?… I have people taking photos of their
steak dinners. Who cares? It’s all me, me, me.”

In my previous post “The Power of Two”, I talked about how working with a Buddy Coach through Dialogue E-Journaling would allow you to “serve” each other through accountability, encouragement and support. This is quite a contrast to the “me,me, me obsession the survey above indicated. So, how will you spend your time on-line. Will it be taking photos of what you had for lunch, or will it be to begin a dialogue with a few good friends, for fun, friendship and fulfillment? So examine why you spend 16 minutes of each hour on social media? Is it truly pleasurable, meaningful, or would your time be better spent reaching out to connect with some real friends?
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How storytelling saved my life?

Can storytelling save your life? I ran across this article on cnn.com this morning. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/07/my-faith-how-storytelling-saved-my-life/?hpt=hp_c1

It was written by Edward Grinnan is who is editor-in-chief of Guideposts magazine and author of “The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Saved My Life and How They Can Transform Yours.” It discusses the importance of storytelling in one’s own mental health and how storytelling can help others. So, keep telling your stories. It might just save your life.

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At Graduation, the main event is “the story”

Graduation Happiness

The Graduation Story

We attended the high school graduations of both my niece and nephew this week. The ceremony was at a small high school in Kansas, my old alma mater so it brought back many memories of my graduation some 40+ years ago. Since this is a small rural high school, the graduation ceremony was quite informal. So, it could also be personal as well. As we entered the gym where the ceremony was to be held we were given a program booklet, which has a separate page for each graduate. Each page had a story summary of their life, from birth to plans for their future. The only speaker at the graduation was one of the seniors who spoke of his story and a brief story of what each of his classmates had planned for their life. After the graduation diplomas were handed out, the seniors presented a video clip of the story of their lives, particularly their high school years.

At each of the graduation parties of my niece and nephew, were video presentations of their life story, from infants to the current time.

So, in reflecting on the day, I saw just what part “story” played in the day, in the lives of the graduate. The day was not about long boring speeches of important people, not about how good each student was, who had the best grades, etc. Perhaps the world had changed since my graduation long long ago. The day is all about telling and reliving their story, where they came from, their family, their achievements, their plans for the future. The main event of the day was all about “their story”, told and retold in various ways.

So, as you attend graduation events of your friends and family, look for the story, look for the meaning behind the activities. What will be remembered about their youth? What character attributes have the displayed and will move them into the future? What will be their story?

Two Legs to Stand On.

Marcia continues to progress well in her quest to walk again normally. She now can wear “normal shoes”, having “graduated” from the special boot and from use of the walker. She still relies on a cane, and can’t walk long distances, but her endurance is increasing, her swelling around the ankle is diminishing and soon their will be two legs to stand on.

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At the End of Life, all there is left is Story

GREAT FALLS, MT - JULY 24:  Walter Breuning , ...

All there is left is the Story

Over the last couple of weeks, Marcia and I have been busy moving Marcia’s mom and stepdad into an assisted living facility. Marcia’s mom had suffered a minor stroke and her step-dad had developed severe dementia, so the decision to move them from independent living had to be made. We spent all week cleaning out their apartment, distributing the contents to the family and disposing of the rest in a community garage sale. Quite a task. As we were sorting through the stuff, I reflected upon the “lost meaning” of “possessions” at the end of life. For Marcia’s stepdad, all that was left when we were finished was a couple of pieces of furniture, about a half-dozen shirts and pants, and the rest you could put into one box. Her mom had more “stuff” and we packed away a box of old journals that will be good reading to recover past story.

Their car is also gone and they are dependent on others for all their needs. Quite an adjustment. So, what remains? Just their story; what they have done and what they stand for. Nothing else. I was chatting with a gentlemen in the assisted living center during a visit there. He suffers from dementia but he was more than willing to share his story, how he grew up on a farm in Western Kansas, his life’s work, etc. He can’t venture outside the facility (due to leg bracelet) and he often got facts confused, but he still had his story. So, keep up with your journaling so you can preserve your story. At the end of life, all there is left is “story”.

Two Legs to Stand On

Marcia continues to progress with her leg, now wearing a supportive boot and has abandoned the walker and most times the cane as she moves around the house. Her endurance is still limited, but grows daily. A major milestone was when she walked unassisted to take communion at her grandchildren’s church last Sunday in St. Louis. So, soon there will be two strong legs to walk on.

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Why Journal

I found the info below, which talks to the power of journaling, in being able to author the book of your life.

Happy Journaling.


The Bookshop has a thousand books,
All colors, hues, and tinges,
And every cover is a door
That turns on magic hinges.
–Nancy Byrd Turner

When we start our day, we have a wealth of meditation books to help lead our focus to faith, strength, and hope. Throughout each day, we have pamphlets and books to enrich our minds and expand our understanding of the disease that affects our lives. We learn we are not alone in our struggles and triumphs; there are many before us, many now, and many to come who will ask the same questions, have the same struggles, find the same hope.

Our literature is written by those who, through the help of their Higher Power, can communicate their feelings and thoughts. By keeping a journal to record our thoughts, dreams, feelings, goals, and daily events, we can create our personal book to use for a better understanding of ourselves. This will enrich our lives with valuable and inspiring words.

I can begin my record of growth and goals, plans and dreams, and all my feelings. I can be the author of the book of my life.


Since Marcia has had her fixator removed and the boot put on to stabilize the ankle, she continues to make progress in walking without the walker. She has to watch it that she doesn’t overdo, but there is promise that there will be two strong legs to stand on soon.

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Declaring Independence from your wall

Go! Victory

Image via Wikipedia

In Ryan Rush’s book “Walls”, one of the steps towards overcoming a faith breakthrough through the walls in your life is to “declare independence from the wall while you are still on this side of the wall. Since a mind-set is a way of seeing life as a set of beliefs, even before the wall is broken through, you must simply “declare victory on this side of the wall” per Ryan. Also, you need to do that “today”, even if there is a considerable fight ahead of you in discovering, choosing, and sharing a promise. You can’t live on both sides of the wall. You either believe you will breakthrough the wall and then take the necessary steps to move to the other side of the wall, or you remain hopelessly stuck on this side of your wall. So, choose to declare victory, make your declaration public for others who are on the same journey. It makes all the difference in breaking through the wall.

Two Legs to Stand On- Declaring Victory
Yesterday Marcia and I went to see the foot and ankle doctor, in anticipation that the fixator would finally be removed, (after 4 months) and that Marcia would be more mobile that her current state with a walker and cane. Marcia’s impatience was increasing over the past several weeks as she looked forward to the day the fixator would be removed. We had hoped that this visit would be the announcement to take it off. Xrays were taken and the results looked promising. However, the doctor made some adjustments in the fixator settings and said he wasn’t yet ready to remove it.
I had expected Marcia to react negatively to this news. However, she surprised me and told the doctor that we were planning to go to Kansas in two weeks, so she could see her ailing mother who is recovering from a stroke, whether or not the fixator was removed. She also told the doctor she would be driving the grain truck in July. He simply said, well, OK, just come and see me before you leave for Kansas. So, she had declared victory on this side of the wall of walking, victory that there will be two legs to stand on. She has a vision and has made that vision public.

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Breaking down the Walls, How to get unstuck?

Within These Walls

What are your walls?

I am reading the book “Walls, Why everybody’s stuck and nobody has to be” by Ryan Rush. He contends that everyone has some “walls” in their life, that is they are stuck in some way, but don’t need to be. As I continue my journaling journey, I am seeing that a lot of life has to do with how you view your world, your attitude, your mindset. In the “Wall’s” book, Ryan defines a wall as “an unhealthy mind-set that keeps you from living life as God intends.” So the wall is a “mindset”. A mindset is a frame of reference through which we process the world around us. Our “belief systems” literally “make up our minds” about what we see and experience in life.

Ryan further defines a “faith break-through” as the act of overcoming a life barrier by learning to trust in, and intentionally pursue, God and what he has promised you. He defines “faith” as “believing God will do what he said he will do, regardless of timing or circumstances.” So, the strength of your mind-set will directly related to the strength of your faith so when you stop believing in God, your mind-set begins to erode, and you will start building walls. These walls block us from living, giving and experiencing God’s best in our lives.

So much of a healthy (as opposed to unhealthy) journey through life’s traumas and transitions has to do with spiritual matters, namely your faith in “One” who has our interest at heart and a plan and promise for our lives. In worship Sunday we sang the song “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. The chorus goes:
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
So, as you journal, who are you putting your trust in? Is your mindset healthy? Do you need to reframe or reassess your mindset? How is your faith? What is your belief system? Do you believe that “God is Healer?
Two Legs to Stand On- Waiting for the Breakthrough
At Marcia’s last doctor’s appointment, she was told that the fixator might come off in two weeks, pending successful exrays. So, she is impatiently waiting for that day. She did suffer a minor setback yesterday, having slipped getting out of the tub and wacking the fixator on the floor, but the damage seems to be minor and so not a major setback. So, the mindset I have is that she will have the fixator off in two weeks; that Our God does have her best interest at heart; that there will be two legs to stand on.

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