Why I Am No Longer A Regular On Facebook.

facebook-closed-march-15-2011A good defense is better than a good offense, but when someone is offended, no defense is sufficient.  There may be some exceptions to that last one, but from what I have been seeing on-line lately, there aren’t very many.  The offended are growing in number every day, and we still have nine months left before an election!  It’s only going to get worse before all sensitivity shifts because of the new players on the board.

Be it politics, sports, lifestyle choices, food choices, pictures, or language, there is always something for someone to be offended by, and there has never been a better avenue for polarizing opinions offending beliefs and hurting feelings than Facecrack.  Millions of people world-wide agree!  They must, or they wouldn’t spend so much time arguing about it there.

For the last few months I have been thinking that my time on Facebook is going to come to an end, and I think it happened today. I have stated as recently as last week that I am probably going to shuffle off for reasons of my own, and today it just became apparent to me that it is time.  I don’t know that anyone will really care if I am gone, or why I left, but I thought I would at least give my reasons so people won’t be offended by my not providing a reason. So, here they are in no particular order:

I get offended too. – When I read through some of the stuff I see written out there it makes me angry that people can actually think that way.  It make some want to set them straight and shake them out of their misbegotten ways.  If they blatantly attack me for my beliefs I want to lash out at them in return.  How dare they, right?  Right?  Anyone out there?  Am I the only one that feels this way?

I want to defend people. – Sometimes I see someone getting ganged up on by people who are offended by something that might have been said in a completely benign manner.  Poor guy could just be making a comment about something that just brought him a moment of joy, but here come the naysayers.  It crosses my mind that this guy can use a little help, and I like to help an underdog, so I should wade in and help him out, right? Right?  Am I the only one on this too?

I get misunderstood. – I gotta own a part in this.  I’m a weird guy sometimes, and I might say something that only a few people in my audience will understand, and I do that without thinking.  I’ve had a few Facecrack flare-ups from stuff just like that.  A simple joke in front of the wrong audience can be very offensive.  I’m not blaming the audience.  When I post without thinking about who I could offend, that is my fault.

It is getting harder to do the right thing. – Today I was ready to make a rebuttal that could have been hurtful.  I had it all written and just before I hit send, I realized I was doing this for the wrong reasons.  My goal was not to clarify anything, or to help someone see my side of things, I just wanted to take  minute and rub someone’s nose in something.  Just before I hit send, I heard the rabbi Lou asking me, “Is this being right or doing right?”  I deleted it instead.  It wasn’t easy, but I did it.

I don’t want to hurt people. – It seems that in today’s social networking, skin has gotten pretty thin.  Some of that might be due to the increased time people are spending in an environment that frankly, is toxic!  So much negativity exists on timelines and walls, and while it was intended to bring people together, it seems to drive people further apart.  I’ve been involved in a few of those little battles, and I have unintentionally hurt some people, and I want to avoid that in the future.

I want to be a positive person. – I gave up talk radio a few years ago because of how it always left me feeling like it was time for an argument.  So much doom and gloom, tragedy, muck-raking and mud-slinging takes place on talk radio, and Facecrack isn’t really much better. Actually it is worse.

I am just offended by how much Facecrack offends me. – I guess the main thing I want people to understand is the that I am not stepping out of Facecrack because I am offended by anyone.  It’s not the posts, it is the effect Facecrack has on me.  It’s not the people, it is the way it hurts relationships.  It’s not the time wasted, it is my desire to be a better steward with my time.  I’m not ignoring friends, I’m trying to avoid a lot of cross-posted negativity.

So, this is what I am planning to have as my Facecrack presence:

  • I will no longer be checking into Facecrack several times every day.  I will check in two nights per week.
  • I’ll still post my blog on Facecrack if anyone is still interested in reading it.  While comments to the blog can be done on the bottom of any of the posts, I know some will feel more comfortable commenting on the Facecrack feed, and that is the main reason I will be checking a couple days per week.
  • As far as social media goes, I will be on Instagram, and possibly Twitter.
  • I plan to write more, and about more things.  Maybe even start working on that book I want to put together.

I’ve seen people drop off Facecrack without telling anyone why, and since this idea started to form in my mind, I have been hoping that I would be able to share in a respectful way, the reasons I am pulling back.  I pray I have not offended anyone with this post, as I have thought a lot about what I wanted to say, and how I wanted it to be heard.  I hope that was clear in my words.

This has been a hard choice, but a choice to be Relentless in my pursuit of building and maintaining right relationships with God, my family, my friends, and everyone else.  I want to put the things that cause me to stumble away as I try to live a Relentless Life for God.  I hope to hear from you all from time to time.

In HIS Grip,

Tom

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Pondering

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Do you ever just sit and think about where you are and how you got there? It can be both exciting and scary at the same time.  Sometimes it can fill you with a fear and anxiety that results in paralysis.

I’m kinda in one of those pondering places right now. Some aspects of life DO have high anxiety while others are fun and exciting. As always, there are those parts of life that have a “wait & see” feeling too. So, yes. I am a complex creature!

Partly paralyzed in some areas, I am still Relentless in others. I’ve had my eyes opened to some things that I have been blind to, and those things have me fired up to change.  Feeling good and moving forward on those may just shake me into action on the others.

I’m thankful today for a great God, an amazing wife, and awesome kids. I’m encouraged today with the knowledge that I have some quality friends that lift me up in prayer and check in on me from time to time.

There are always things in life to ponder,  but pondering is only worthwhile if it generates a choice and then an action.

What are you pondering today?

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19 Reasons I Love My Daughter:

IMG_0648Well, another trip around the sun has taken place and here we are again.  January 23 has arrived and with it the celebration of Jessica’s birth.  This will be the fourth time I have done a birthday blog for my little girl, and I am not sure what I can say that I haven’t already said. Thankfully, not knowing what to say has never kept from saying something in the past, so here we go!

  1. She made me fall in love with her at first sight.  I didn’t want a daughter, and we didn’t know what was coming, but I was certainly not looking for a little girl!  You can imagine my surprise when I saw that slimy little girl for the first time and knew immediately I could not have been happier.
  2. She taught me the importance of discipline.  When you are responsible for shaping the personality and character of a small human, it behooves you to pay attention to what is going on.  As she grew and started to not “stay put” so much, we had to teach her proper behavior.  Teaching that to her opened my eyes to how God is always doing the same thing with me.
  3. She taught me the importance of consistency.  Whether it was a sleep schedule, feeding schedule, or a “no-no” rule, it was not long before we realized as parents of a little human that we needed to be consistent for her benefit and for our sanity.  One of the things that we look back on as being in the top 5 most important parenting things we did without always realizing we were doing it.
  4. She showed us that it’s okay to just stop and enjoy a moment.  I will never forget seeing her walking across the yard as the radio was on  (turned up to 11) in my garage blaring an advertisement for McDonalds or something like that.  She was heading toward a toy of hers and then the music started back up.  She stopped and just did that toddler “bouncing dance” (all parents know what I mean) for the entire song.  She started to try and walk away a couple times, but she just couldn’t stop the bounce until the music was gone.
  5. IMG_1253She showed me true appreciation for God’s creatures. To be honest, I am still learning on this one.  To me, animals were created so that I may eat them.  Therefore, I have a soft spot for cattle, pigs, chickens, deer, elk, buffalo, and whatever Gorton’s uses to make a fish stick.  Other than that, I like a dog to follow me around the yard.  Jessica loves anything with a pulse, and has always been so keenly interested in them.  We still look at her in amazement as she spouts off facts about animals but we are never surprised to see her go the rescue of any animal.
  6. She is an amazing friend.  Jess has always reached out to people and been willing to be a friend to them.  She especially looks for the one person that seems to have no friend. She draws them to her!  She shows interest in their lives and is a genuine friend to them.
  7. The girl knows how to work.  We have had horses for almost seven years now, and the other day we were commenting on how many times she has acted like she didn’t want to go out to “her boys” to feed them.  We think the number is around 2 – in seven years.  She is up early in the morning and late at night to take care of them, and she knows how to throw hay!
  8. She is content.  Jessica has never been one to walk around asking for things she knew she couldn’t have or pitching little fits if she didn’t get what she wanted.  It was almost like she thought if she had something it was better than nothing, and that was good enough.  I might be exaggerating little bit, but not by a lot!
  9. She has always been comfortable with herself.  She is not a person to “put on airs”.  She is who she is, and doesn’t change for someone just because that is how they might want her to be.  If she makes a change, it is because she has decided to do it.IMG_1095
  10. She does hard things.  Hard things are hard because they are hard, and Jess has been one the tis willing to take on a challenge.  Sometimes we tease her about a stubborn streak (no chance she got that from either parent), but more often than not it is because she has a tenacity about life and is willing to do what needs to be done – even when it is hard.
  11. She is still a girl.  Even though she loves pig wrestling, horse maintenance, and throwing hay bales, she still likes to put on a pretty dress and get all “girled up” from time to time.
  12. She’s a smart kid.  Jess has always done well in school.  There are times she has really had to attack a subject in order to do well, but she gives it her best.  She made the Dean’s list with a 4.0 in her first semester in college!
  13. She loves her family.  Maybe some of it is because we live in the sticks and she doesn’t have a lot of friends right inner neighborhood, but she actually seems to like being at home with us.  Yep.  A teenage daughter that has always been happy to spend time with her parents… Maybe unicorns exist after all!
  14. 995302_10202357674841693_1646407219_nShe liked Cricket Hunting with me when she was little.  It’s goofy, would probably take a ton of explaining, but we enjoyed it!
  15. Some of her more memorable quotes: “I AH-DOOUGH-A-BULL” “Wedgies.  They happen!” To her Grandpa Williams when she was still in diapers – “Grampa, I dotta yode.” (“I gotta load” meaning a full diaper.  I’m not saying her mother taught her that one, but there was only one other adult living in our house that could have taught her that, and surely it wasn’t him…)
  16. IMG_20150705_171623She is resilient.  One of the hardest signs we experienced with Jess was watching her deal with the pain that came out of her competing in High School Equestrian events.  She was hurt in many ways during that time, but she kept her gentle heart and attitude and was willing to forgive rather than hold on to hard feelings.  She has been a true example to me in that regard.
  17. She likes to pull my finger.  Yes, my wife just covered her eyes and shook her head in shame that I wrote that, but it is the truth.  It makes us laugh!
  18. IMG_0597Her brother is her best friend – and he likes that.  They have always been good buds, and even though they have the occasional spat, they truly love each other and miss each other.  Next year is going to be hard on both of them as she leaves for Cedarville.
  19. Jess truly wants to live her life in a way that glorifies God.  She reads her Bible, journals, prays, and genuinely looks to Him for guidance and strength for living.  She has been modeling a Relentless Life all through her teenage years.  While life has been hard from time to time, she has not lost sight of God, and has continued to draw close to Him.  It makes me very proud to see her grasping the importance of a relationship with her heavenly Father.75003_4832780735866_725842936_n

Jess, I love you, and I am proud to be your Dad.  You have been a joy since your first breath, and I stand in amazement as I continue to watch you grow in so many ways.  You are a blessing to me and Mom, and I thank God every day for entrusting us with a daughter like you.  Happy Birthday, Squirt!

Love you,

Dad

What I Found At The Bottom

water-wellWhen was the last time you felt completely depressed?  I don’t mean, “I had a bad day and people at work don’t understand me.”  I’m talking more along the line of, “I don’t know how much longer I can take this! I am scrambling, dodging, weaving, listening, encouraging, helping, and supporting with all I have and I have reached a point where I AM OUT OF EVERYTHING PEOPLE NEED FROM ME!”

Anyone?  Seriously?  Nobody wants to raise their hand?  Buncha liars out there I guess. OK, maybe it’s just me.  Well, maybe one day you will feel that way, and if you do, this is something I want to share with you. I hope it helps.

At the bottom of you, you will only find the bottom of you.  I know!  We are talking some deep stuff here!  When you dig down deep, and go to the deepest part of you to find what you need for yourself or someone else, you will find…YOU!  Is that enough?  Will it meet your needs?  Will it meet the needs of your family? Friends? Co-workers?

Maybe you are a really deep person with a  lot in the well, but I guarantee that the day will come when you are looking at the bottom of it and you will find a deep, dark YOU staring back at you, and YOU will look at you and both YOU and you will ask, “Is this all I got?” (Unless you are a grammarian like my mother-in-law and then it will be, “Alas! Is this truly all that remains?”)

You see, I am a finite being, and news flash – so are you and YOU! That means that we will always reach a point where we have nothing left, and when that moment comes we are going to fail, flop, and fall.  Not because we didn’t give our best or our all, but because we are not enough in ourselves to get the job done in some situations.

That’s where God loves to show up.  He loves the moments when we realize that we don’t have what it takes and that we really need Him to be in control.  When we step back, give Him control, and do what He asks, we are going to be able to see things happen that we never could accomplish on our own.

He will take our moments of frustration and give us peace in heart and mind.  He will take the fear and replace it with a confidence that we can succeed.  He will take the loneliness and show us that we are never alone because we have Him.  When we feel like we just can’t keep caring, He gives us the ability to love with His love.

It might not always feel good to realize that you don’t have enough in you to do a job, but it does feel good to see something come to fruition that you know was possible only through God’s power.

Relentless Living requires us to keep our FOCUS on God and draw our strength from Him.  On our own, the bottom comes up pretty quickly, but with God, you can just keep going deeper and deeper.  You just can’t find the limit of Him.

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I Got Robbed

cat_burglar_by_croonstreet-d3ce6mqHad a sad moment today when I realized that I had been a victim of petty theft.  Somebody had taken it upon themselves to get into my desk and remove a couple of items of mine.  They were not big things, but they were my things.  It saddened me, and it made me angry.  Why?  What gives them the right to take what was not theirs?

A few hours have gone by now since I realized my things were no longer mine.  I’ve calmed down, and things are coming into FOCUS.  My anger has faded, and I am now thinking about this in a bigger picture.  Am I better than this person?  Honestly, no.  I have nicked a thing or two in my lifetime, and I’m sure I made someone else feel the same way I felt today.  I’m not going to call that karma because I don’t believe in karma.  It’s a depraved world – nothing more, nothing less.

The thing for me to FOCUS on today is not that I was robbed, but what my response was.  I was angry – VERY angry about something that really wasn’t that big of a deal.  It wasn’t the items that were taken as much as it was that someone had dared to take from ME!  It was MINE!  I wanted justice! Uh-Oh…

You see, when I want justice, I am putting myself in a spot where I am asking to be put under a microscope myself.  I am climbing up onto a throne of judgement and I am going to let the hammer fall on someone.  That might feel good, but is that the way to show grace?  No. I want to be right in that moment, and I want justice for wrongs done against me, but in reality, the wrong was not against me, and I have no rights in it.

Once I had a chance to think about it, I realized that God must often feel the same way about me.  He bought me with His Son’s blood, and now I belong to Him.  My body and soul are no longer mine to control, but sometimes I steal control of my life.  It’s not long term, and you could “rationalize” it and say I was only borrowing it, but the truth is, I steal control because I want it.

God has the right as a holy God to punish me, or even end me, but He responds to me with Grace.  I might have to suffer some consequences, but He lets me have grace and forgives me, restores, me and grows me.  His example of grace and mercy are provided for me so I know how to live and interact with those who are around me.

So, RELENTLESS LIVING demands that I shift that FOCUS off myself and put it on God.  The thing to do is to FOCUS on the lesson that God has for me in this moment.  Something temporal may have been taken form me, but in the midst of that, He also provides an opportunity for me to experience some eternal growth.  In the end, that is a definite positive on the balance sheet.

I’m not sure if the person will step forward or try to return my things.  All I know is that I’m thankful for a God that cares about me enough to talk to me and show me where I can grow even in something like this.

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New Year, Fresh Fail…

failSo, a couple weeks ago I sat down and wrote a blog mentioning some goals I have for myself this year.  Now that we are 11 days in, I thought it was time to give a report:

So far, this year is a fail.  Let me tell you why.

  1. Writing at least 5 times per week? – Try this is the first time since January 1.  Doing the math on that I am only about, well, 10 days behind.  Need to work on that.
  2. Reading my Bible every day? – Well, better on this one.  There has been at least a few minute look into it every day, but I have not been the scholar that I have set out to be this year thus far.
  3. My health? – Well, we all get that holiday bulge, right?  I haven’t gained a lot, but I need to get that focus back if I am going to make positive change with a declining poundage!
  4. Me as an employee? – Depends in what you are looking at.  I have been VERY busy, but it has all been in handling the urgent things that have been coming up.  Most of the important work I feel I need to get done has been pushed aside.  I’m busy, and people are happy, but this is building in the background…

So, yeah. Not where I wanted to see myself 11 days into the year.  The thing to remember is that I have 355 days left in 2016 to turn it around! (Thank you, Leap Year!) There is no reason to let it get me down.  It’s just a reminder to keep the focus where it belongs.

Where does it belong though?  If I’m just focusing on these things, it will get very easy to be busy doing these good things, but in the end I could miss out on the best thing – seeing God at work in them.

The Bible is so great in how it tells us where we need to keep our focus in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life.  Solomon tells us about amazing, wonderful things that he was able to experience, and in the end it was like chasing the wind.  The Proverbs repeat over an over how important it is to keep a wise focus in our actions.  David tells us in the Psalms that in the middle of war, turmoil and family squabbles, all He really needed was God in His life.  Paul tells us that he doesn’t want to live his life in a way that is like just batting at the air.

All the things that we get busy with are not bad things unless they are pulling our focus from God.  Yesterday our Pastor talked about the importance of abiding in God.  Abiding in Him is what we are called to do.  The thing is, we get hung up on all the stuff that we are doing that are good things that will bear fruit, but the truth is that NOTHING WE DO will ever bear fruit.  That comes from God. He is the vine that brings life to the branch and in the life is the fruit.  Apart from Him we can never bear fruit.

We can live busy lives, but if we are not RELENTLESS about living in a way that keeps our focus on Him in our business, we are wasting time, energy, and maybe even our witness. Ouch.  None of us wan that, so what can you do?

Take time at the end of the day today and think about the things that kept you busy.  Ask yourself if God ever came to mind in those moments.  If He didn’t, maybe it would be a good thing to ask Him for a bit of forgiveness for shutting Him out or at the very least ignoring Him.  Then, take note of those moments and make a commitment to take control of that moment the next time and give it to Him.  Ask Him in that moment what He is trying to teach, what the eternal value of the action is, how your action or attitude might be modified to bring glory to Him in it.  Maybe you just need to ask if you should be doing it at all!

The new year is always going to bring fresh fails, but a RELENTLESS year is going to take those failures and use them to grow closer to God.  Even in the crazy times!

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