Boundaries and Balance

Our work schedules aren’t easy. My husband is also a light sleeper. A Facebook conversation captured my attention at a time of night when we were brushing our teeth, turning off the lights, and about to head to bed. I paused in the kitchen, looking at my tablet, praying, struggling between balance and boundaries.

“Are you coming to bed?” He said after he poked his head around the corner.

“I can’t.” I gave a sigh after I said this.

It reminded me of something someone said about children. You don’t choose the quality time; they do. Time zones or life events can mean instant chat, video conferencing, or an email. I try to keep some kind of normalcy during this transition time with my husband, like getting dinner ready by 6:30 pm when he gets home after a 12-hour day or stopping work by 5 or 5:30 pm so we can have some together time before bed. But sometimes, like that night, some conversations can’t be re-scheduled.

Serving in this field means establishing good time-management, balance, and making sure two factors aren’t neglected–God and my husband. Serving in this transition period means raising support on top of a full-time job, active ministry, and being a wife.

Thankfully, a current financial supporter has upped their support and I am now at 35% support. I have a long ways to go before I reach 100% support, but I celebrate each percentage because that means I am closer to reaching my calling.

To become a monthly, quarterly, or annual financial partner, click here. Or click here to learn more. 

Use Different Words About The Online World

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When I read devotions, it’s always talking about using different words; find a new narrative in your head; because using different words will change how you think and feel. People, especially older adults, think of the online world as self-serving instead of serving.

If the narrative in your head is “self-serving,” you will spend less time on it, not use it strategically, and make that face you make when someone mentions social media. It’s not about becoming relevant as a church, but getting involved in people’s lives. You can keep your involvement simple or learn marketing to cast a broader net. I’ve found that God will direct you to certain social media apps if your heart is willing to serve.

What does serving online look like?

  • When someone posts a status that you feel the need to pray for, your timely comment, email, text, or private message is meaningful rather than just lurking. Your acknowledgment of love to that person will encourage them.
  • If someone needs help financially or with a food box, you can personally connect them with a Christian ministry in their area. Send them a private message, email, or text and start that conversation. Be their online friend while that Christian ministry becomes their face-to-face friend, walking with them in their struggles.
  • If someone becomes a believer, you can connect them with a pastor, deacon, or elder who can disciple and baptize them and ensure the “ball isn’t dropped.”
  • Encourage someone online in their goals.
  • Be an accountability partner with someone.
  • Be louder than the voice in their own heads so their identity can be aligned with Christ rather than whatever label the world pastes on them.

Communication is a big problem. People under use the tool or spend all their time marketing. Any tool can be negative, but it’s up to the church to use this tool to bring the people online into a fellowship of faith. If you don’t use this tool, someone else will.

Finding Courage

Meeting churches, picking up new clients, and telling people about what I do doesn’t come without a fair amount of anxiety as I seek out courage. When this new life becomes overwhelming, I think, “I could be a person with a regular job, not working ministry, not serving, with more time to read or bake or something.”

Yet, that person wasn’t happy. 

I am happy following God’s will in my life. I didn’t see how far He would take me when He asked me to join a church’s prayer team, then lead it. I thought stepping beyond being the wallflower was the limit of His calling. I didn’t see that He would bring me this far.

As I write, I am sitting in the lobby of the Doubletree Denver Tech Hotel among so many great people–people who have experienced things I haven’t yet. People who have sacrificed whole lives to be uprooted and live somewhere else. The common question people ask me is, “Where are you going?”

“Online,” is too simple of an answer.

The width of ministry while working full time makes my own head whirl.

  • I fear failure, but I face it with faith.
  • I fear rejection, but my skin is thick enough to take it.
  • I fear being quieted by those who who fear change, but I speak up because I can’t be quiet.

The typical length of any of my co-workers raising funds has been two to three years. I am a year and a half into this journey, having just been released in March, 2016 to raise support.

I’m looking for people who want to see the church empowered and united to share the Gospel online and who are willing to support me, even with just a small amount per month. I’m looking for partners. I’m looking for people who are tired of the status quo with how the church is acting online and want someone to get involved and train them.

Today, I picked up a new client. I will be helping him get his ministry online. It is all a part of the vision of getting the church involved in the new mission field called, the internet. It is time-consuming to train churches and people on social media, much less do it for free.

Are you with me?

CLICK HERE

Current Support: 16.12%

Christmas Eve and Day: I Am Available

I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. With all the communications I do with WorldVenture, the Christmas card becomes meaningless. Social Media makes the Christmas letter unimportant and even extraneous because we’ve already read everything you’ve done this year on your Facebook. What is important, however, is being available for conversations.

If you are having a hard time this Christmas, please know that I am available for private chats, email, or on social media. My phone will be with me.

Christmas Day or Christmas Eve…talk to me. I’m here.

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Now on WhatsApp!

Nikki

Christmas Thoughts

Christmas is slim this year. We had ours early–one big gift so we can get equipment that we need that will be used time and time again. Upgrades are easier to buy than starting from fresh. With IBM offering 25,000 jobs after meeting with President-elect Trump, the economy still feels as if it is rock bottom for us non-profits. Contentment though doesn’t need a lot to be happy.

I’ve always said, Christmas is too commercialized, from Black Friday to Christmas decorations that get put out before Halloween. The tide is turning. 45 stores were closed on Thanksgiving. REI Co-op encouraged people to get outside again this year with their ingenious social media marketing plan, “Will You Go Out With Me?”

We need a bad economy and less money to realize the importance of God and people. Prosperity is always nice and less stressful, but you can forget God. You can also forget the heavy weight of responsibility on the shoulders of those blessed with much. We aren’t meant to hoard our blessings.

Christmas was also not meant to be once a year, but every day for the rest of our lives–living a spirit of generosity. This is why every year we have a Christmas tradition of buying a cup of hot cocoa or coffee for Salvation Army Bell Ringers. They stand outside ringing a bell for hours. Anyone who has to listen to a bell for that long deserves a hot cocoa or coffee, especially on a cold day. Generosity can also be about giving of your time.

I’ve noticed how over-scheduled we are as Americans. Foreigners know us as impatient and in a hurry. Making time for people is not our strength. It’s something we need to work on as Americans. As an over-scheduled and impatient American, the first step towards cleaning up our reputation is attending ERAU’s International Festival on February 25 and the rest of their open-to-the public events.

My goal and hope is to help international students with their needs as newbies in America. With my motor vehicle and administration background, I can help international students with what is needed to integrate here, help them make new friends, and understand English so they can graduate.

I’ll Be in Cottonwood, Arizona Tomorrow @WorldVenture

Hi friend, I’ll be in Cottonwood, Arizona tomorrow. I have the whole morning free if you would like to meet for coffee. If you leave a comment about that, I won’t see it. You’ll have to visit me at my twitter site or Facebook site to leave a message that you are interested in meeting.

I would love to share with you what God is doing through Social Media and Technology to reach the unreached, the unloved, and the unchurched.

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PTSD from #ElectionNight

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You don’t understand how serious and how hard of a job being a Social Media Mentor is until you survive the week of the 2016 Presidential Elections (#ElectionNight). Every other status and tweet is about the election, blaming Trump, blaming Hillary, blaming you and me for being white, blaming the neighbor’s dog, and the name-calling is horrendous. Even “the church” gets the blame for the roguish behavior of people leadership or a congregation can’t control. So it’s been a tough week for me for very different reasons.

I’m on Social Media about 6ish days a week from sun up to sun down, looking for people who need a friend, a mentor, or someone to listen on top of a full time job, helping churches connect with people online, and keeping up with writing obligations. So this election week brings me into a near state of depression (or as I jokingly say, PTSD).

Today, in fact, I had to firmly shut my laptop and just quit.

I had to go for a run and appreciate once again where God has me serving. I look at the churches in my community and I am proud of them for how hard they work to love others even when that love or their help might be rejected. I understand grief. I have been grieving since 2008 and I am still grieving, but not for what you think.

I am grieving mainly for how we are putting politics (left and right) above our faith in God, and how we associate being a Republican with being a Christian when the two have nothing to do with Salvation according to the Bible. Christians who put down the church because of a few people put down the very people you and I have come to love who serve so selflessly in their communities.

The divide is very deep in our country. Part of me is pleased to see more and more statuses reflecting a plea for unity. The other part, like today, is grieved to see Christians tearing down the body of Christ without a thought to unbelievers and how their words may be perceived by them and the world, or how it defames the workers in the field who are doing the jobs of twenty because of a lack of volunteers out of love for their communities; love for even the people who are rioting and causing damage.

My question to everyone: What if we flood the internet with stories of what God is doing through you or others to reach our communities? What if more good stories outran the bad ones?

I’m taking a Social Media Fast week after next for a couple of days. I’m going to be focusing on this year’s verse from Matthew 4:19 (CEB) to ask God to show me HOW to reach the unreached, the unloved, and the unchurched. Human nature is complex.

So, don’t mind me; I’m just suffering from a little #ElectionNight PTSD.

Confessions of a (Sort Of) Reformed Passive Aggressive

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Has Social Media Crashed Your Relationships?

What we put on social media reflects our hearts and makes us focus on those things which weigh heavily on our emotions. No matter how vague we think we are being on social media, the pain spills out and becomes a manuscript for others to read of what is going on inside of our heads.

As a Social Media Missionary, I wrestle constantly with myself to decide what my motive is behind publishing. It’s so tempting to have a targeted audience and it is such a fine line. How do we express the grief, anger, and pain in responsible ways so others can minister to us or so we can minister to them?

 Several faces do come to mind as I write this piece. It’s unavoidable. No one is completely un-passive aggressive. Our lives reflect what we see and experience, and this translates onto social media. Social Media is no different than face-to-face. We share stories with our friends on and offline. Gossip is a constant threat because friends can also share those stories publicly even when done in face-to-face situations. The copy and paste feature is the only difference between Social Media and face-to-face communities. How do we use social media responsibly as we battle the temptations of the tongue and wrestle with our pain?
I have some suggestions:
  • Ask yourself why you want to post something. Before you hit publish, search out your heart. Read some Bible verses that address this area. Read the context. It matters less what inspired the post as it does why you are posting it.
  • Where’s God’s lessons in the post? Will it irreparably harm a relationship? Will it cause dissension? Will it harm someone else’s relationship? If you insist on posting the post, treat it separately from yourself. Change names, dates, and even make it out to be a “friend.” Change details so it is so far removed from the actual event that God’s lesson comes out while keeping the relationship secure.
  • Passive aggressive behavior doesn’t change people.  When my passive aggressive behavior was out of control, relationships were harmed. This is actually a symptom of a need to control other people from a place of fear. Trust God to handle people and pray for them. As Sheila Walsh said in one of her books: The prayer might feel insincere at first, but eventually God will work on your heart and the prayers you say for them become authentic. These days I pray that God will change me even if the other person won’t change their behavior.
  • Set healthy boundaries on your friends and relationships. This is important. People can be great in face-to-face, but toxic online. Or maybe a lot of drama is happening in that person’s life and you need a break from it? First, “Unfollow” the friend. On Facebook, unfollowing isn’t unfriending. It keeps their feeds from showing up on your newsfeeds, but you still have access to their profiles so you can minister to them or be a friend. If the drama continues to impair your ability to be a friend, “unfriend” them only as a last resort. On Twitter and Google Plus it is less confrontational to unfollow or take them out of your circle. People take it too personally on Facebook. As this article states, many reasons exist for people unfriending others. Taking everything personally will make you a very lonely person.
  • Set up a Facebook group (set to secret) or Google Community (set to private) for people you trust so you can let them minster to you or you to them. A Calvary Church Facebook group has approximately 14,000 people on it and it is set to public. This means it is not an ideal place to share confidential prayer requests or problems. Setting up a group of your most trusted friends is a better idea. You are allowing people to share your burden without gossiping, being passive aggressive, or harming relationships.
Meanwhile, don’t be afraid of online community. It can be beneficial especially if you live in a place where you are having a difficult time connecting. Engage people. Talk to them about what they shared. Be a part of their lives as much as they are a part of your virtual life. You can’t live as if everyone will break your trust and heart. Trust God to make your heart whole again and live your life pouring into others lives even if they let you down.

Embattled and Healing

“Good stewards need to adapt to changing circumstances, but that’s not all. They must also be on the alert for outside threats that could undermine their work. External challenges can come in the form of outright attack, as the Israelites feared in Nehemiah 4, or they can be spiritual in nature like demonic attack or despair.” Pg. 585, Exploring Stewardship, The NIV Stewardship Bible

embattled

Embattled, I woke this morning to the sound of rain pattering against the windows and a pain free morning. A week long battle with Diverticulitis is finally easing. With renewed focus, I began to get caught up on work after rescheduling my appointments for next week.

First order of business was time with God. This morning I read this devotion (quoted above). My assigned reading was Nehemiah 5:6-19. A lot of Nehemiah, read in light of today, is relevant. According to the commentary on page 586, many Jewish families had to mortgage their properties to pay for food, farming had slowed because of reconstruction of the wall, greedy Jewish creditors seized properties and enslaved children, and taxes were extremely high. With exception of enslaving children, do you see how we can call relate? Many people in my community struggle economically and we are no different as outlined by what happened on Tuesday.

I had to make a tough decision Tuesday. Do I go to the emergency room or weather through the excruciating pain? It’s a gamble. We couldn’t afford more medical bills with a colonoscopy bill that just came in the mail. I didn’t want to cause my husband more stress. By evening, I had no choice.

It was a good decision. I am gaining strength and getting better. My head is clear. So many people prayed for me. They sent me messages on Facebook. I was so encouraged. This week’s battle with illness and other things taught me about adapting to changing circumstances.