Friday, May 24, 2019

3 Steps to Shine Your Light Online

3 Steps to Shining Your Light Onlne - How Christians Create a Tidal Wave of God's Love on Social Media

 Close your eyes – think about going on Facebook or Twitter and scrolling through your feed.  Imagine the typical posts you encounter.  Now think about the comments on the most engaging posts.  What do you feel?  Dread… confusion… sadness… anger?

We don’t need studies to tell us that individual are feeling more isolated and depressed after visiting social media than ever before. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are filled with divisiveness, arguments, superficiality, jealousy and anger.  And yet despite this, social media is continuing to become even more engrained in our culture. 

What do we do?  Do we leave Facebook?  Do we remove ourselves from this part of society?

You might be tempted.  I know at times I’m tempted to leave.  But the simple answer is – we can’t.  We must be present. 

We cannot abandon what Pope Benedict calls the “Digital Continent” to the darkness permeating our society.  Christians are called to be the light in the world. 

Imagine a world in which Christians shined with the light of God’s love on social media, one post at a time.  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would reflect love, truth, understanding and most importantly mercy. 

If each of us made an effort to live our Christian calling in the midst of the negativity and ugliness, we could make a huge impact. A tidal wave.  There are more than 72 million Catholics in the United States and 1.2 billion across the globe. And if we work together with other fellow Christians, that number jumps even higher. That’s a huge tidal wave. 

So how do we create this tidal wave?  By tithing our social media posts, engaging with other as in real life and by showing mercy online.

Tithing our Social Media Posts – I challenge you to dedicate at least 10% of your social media posts to God.  The way you do it should be as unique as you are.  Overt, subtle, witty, serious, grateful, abstract, personal, evangelizing, spiritual, funny, joyful…. Be you!!  It can be as simple as “Checking In” at church, or sharing your favorite scripture, quote, meme, prayer, reflection or whatever speaks to you.  Invite your social media followers to observe how your faith is intertwined into your life. 

Engage as you do in real life – When you run into a person in real life and hear their “news” do you give them a thumbs up or a heart?  Probably not.  You say Congratulations or I’m so sorry, or Were you scared on that roller coaster?  So why not online?   Slow your scroll and just talk with your Facebook friends as if they were right in front of you.

Show Mercy to Others – We need to avoid contributing to the negativity that tempts us to leave social media.  When you feel it necessary to disagree or correct someone online, take a pause and prayerfully consider how you respond.  Avoid piling on or saying something about someone you wouldn’t say to them if they were right in front of you. And remember, sometimes the best response is no response at all.

My pastor recently said about social media –

"Like any man-made thing, social media is neither good nor bad in and of itself.  It’s how we use it that makes the difference.  If we use it to tear people down, to destroy them, to exact our pound of flesh, then it’s a bad thing.  IF we use it to build people up, if we use it to spread the Good News, if we use it to show our Christian faith, then it’s a good thing."
Social Media and Mercy quote from Divine Mercy Sunday at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church

We have the opportunity and possibly the responsibility to shift the tone of the online space.  We can shine with the light of God’s love by sharing the Good News, being personal and authentic, and showing mercy to others in our online community. 

The power of social media in our society is expanding.  Rather than abandon it, hide from it or shut it out, we need to engage and be Present!  Not just be present, but to live our Joy in Christ and light up the Digital Continent with God’s love for all.
Lisa Henley Jones - Catholic Speaker, Blogger & Social Media Consultant

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Unplanned: the truth about abortion

Unplanned movie abortion planned parenthood abby johnson what did she see
Unplanned doesn't give you time to settle into your seat. It slaps you in the face with the hard truth right at the beginning. Even knowing this, walking in with your guard up, still it lands like a sucker punch that leaves you gasping. For me, the experience elicited the same emotion as watching the D-Day landing in Saving Private Ryan. In between sobs, while clenching my 16-year old daughter's hand, all I could think over and over was, "May God have mercy on all our souls." 

After the punch, the movie segues into a fairly straight narrative. Her name is Abby and as a college student she became involved with Planned Parenthood because she believed in helping women, even and especially during a time of personal crisis. We are walked through her disastrous first marriage, a relationship that led her to personally experience two abortions - an evacuation procedure and an RU-486 medically induced procedure. Both of these experiences serve to establish Abby's authenticity and ability to speak knowledgeably about abortion from the woman's perspective. 

Throughout the story, everyone is shown with human dignity. The Planned Parenthood staff, for the most part, are united in doing their job to the best of their ability. The Coalition for Life is also united peacefully on the other side of the fence. There is NO sense of condemnation of the women seeking an abortion. There is no judgment of them at any time. Abby's parents are patient and prayerful; while clearly not in agreement with her choice of career, they allow their daughter the free will make her own decisions. Abby finds love and peaceful support in her second husband, who accepts her for who she is.  

This movie does not take sides as pro-choice VS. pro-life. This movie is simple and might go completely unnoticed except for one- major- fact.

It exposes the truth that is abortion.

And that truth is hard and bitter and ugly. It should reach into your soul and squeeze your heart. It cannot be unseen. Planned Parenthood and their business is personified through one main character almost as a side dish to the real story. Because, this story is about the truth that is Abortion. Planned Parenthood is merely a twisted political business machine profiting from the genocide we willingly allow. 

"It is so that the works of God might be made visible ..." (John 9:3)
Watching this movie, and knowing her story, I see how God worked throughout Abby's life to prepare her to be this messenger. She had to go through these experiences to be heard, to be able to do the work she is doing today. When she is overwhelmed with the awakening realization that she was complicit in the murder of over 22,000 innocent human beings, God is present in the people surrounding her, offering her - and all of us - mercy and forgiveness. God is so good. Only He can bring hope and redemption to our lives when we seek it.

I've read and can debate both sides about why this movie is rated R. Maybe today's teens are numbed to the realistic portrayal of death in the movies, but I think every teen in high school should see this movie. My own teen thinks it's ludicrous that a 15-year old girl can obtain an abortion without her parents consent, but cannot see a movie about abortion without a parent in attendance.

Unplanned is a simple narrative of one person's life before the truth and after the truth. She tells it so YOU will know the truth.  Do not be afraid to see it. 

If you or someone you know needs help with an unplanned pregnancy or healing from a past abortion, or if you'd like to become more involved in helping others, please see this list of Resources

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jesus is a Friend of Mine

seeking Jesus friend deeper relationship with Jesus
Earlier this month our Year One Confirmation students heard a lesson about Jesus titled "Jesus is a Friend of Mine," in which we helped teens understand that true friendship with Jesus includes listening to what He says and doing what He asks of us, even - and especially - when it's difficult.

I share it with you today, because I look around my own community and see so many looking for something more out of their life, but maybe not knowing where to start or what to do. Ten years ago, while relatively content in my life, I also found myself looking around wondering how can I have a deeper relationship with Christ and where to start.

Being in a friendship with Jesus requires a little courage, determination, and fortitude, because like a good friend He will challenge you to step up, do more, be better.

It calls to mind a scene from the iconic movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off," where uptight, depressed Cameron Frye answers a call from his friend, Ferris who is telling him to come pick him up. The hidden message is: Hey friend - get over here - get out of yourself - do something new - be challenged to change your day - your perspective - your life. Cameron groans, he wants to refuse Ferris, to stay right in bed where he is, but he feels the pull to his friend. He makes it to the car, but still has to argues with himself about whether to turn the key and drive over there. When I think of Jesus calling us into the deep, to step outside our comfort zone - which maybe has become a rut, to turn toward him and away from whatever is distracting us from him, I can hear Cameron Frye's short punchy monologue so clearly in my head.
"He'll keep calling me, he'll keep calling me until I come over. He'll make me feel guilty. This is uh... This is ridiculous, OK I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go. What - I'LL GO!"
Ferris Bueller movie Cameron Car He'll keep calling me

A true friend offers you a respite from the grind.

A true friend encourages you to get out of your funk. To stand up, shake off the sluggishness, do something new, see the world from a different perspective. 

A true friend loves you and wants something better for you.

A true friend wants to help you, heal you.

A true friend is sometimes silent, supporting you when you need comfort or listening to you be angry and vent.

When we choose to follow Christ, at first he is a kind and gentle friend, a fun friend. And then, almost unexpectedly, He pushes us to step it up. He challenges us to take the right path, not the easy path. He leads us to become better than we were the day before, but it requires us to do something new. Only by making a conscious choice to seek him, to him can we begin to develop a stronger friendship. Only by making a conscious choice can we allow Him to work within our hearts and our lives.

It requires faith and faith requires action.

What will you do this year to allow Jesus to be a true friend?

Monday, January 7, 2019

New Years Resolutions: Becoming Aware of God's Presence in an Imperfect Life

For many, welcoming in the new year is a time to start fresh and clean, form new habits, and welcome new beginnings. A time to make resolutions.

I've been good about making New Year Resolutions.
I've never been good about keeping New Year Resolutions.

A few years ago instead of making more traditional resolutions (get up an hour earlier, make time for exercise, eat healthy, etc.) I resolved to adopt little ways to become more fully aware of God's presence in my imperfect life. If this is something you'd like to try, here are three helpful tools to set your focus for the year.

Saint of the Year
Anyone who's been confirmed probably remembers either the ease or the agony of selecting a Confirmation Saint to walk with on your faith journey. You look for someone who's lived a holy life, who you connect with or admire; a life that you'd like to emulate in some way, and to ask for their intercessory prayers. Sometimes, the saint chooses you. They'll keep popping up into your life at odd, unexpected times until you finally notice and start paying attention to them. In 2011, Jennifer Fulwiler launched her Saints Name Generator to provide you with a random saint. It's very tempting to click over and over until you receive a name you recognize; however, there are times, when no matter how much I cringe at the first name I receive, that saint will suddenly "pop in" at some point during the year reminding me to give them consideration. 

This year I received St. Robert Bellarmine (I'd never heard of him) and wouldn't you know the very next morning I opened my Morning Offering email and the first quote of the day was written by him. See what I mean?! Give it a try and see where it leads you.

Word of the Year
Choosing a Word of the year is a tool I've not used in years past; however the Word of the Year Generator  (also created by Jennifer Fulwiler) began popping up in my Facebook feed over New Year's weekend, so I clicked the button and received the word: Follow

Now, I should tell you that I've clicked this button three times over the past week and every time received the same word: Follow.  I know there are other words, because my son clicked it right after me and received JOY, but then I clicked it again - Follow. So I placed this word prayerfully in my heart to become more aware of opportunities where God is calling me to Follow Him. Then last week I went to Mass for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and heard in the homily - Follow the virtues of Mary - patience, obedience, humility, courage, and confidence. Follow our blessed mother, she who says "Do whatever He asks of You.

Scripture of the Year
Meditating on a piece of scripture for the year is another tradition that's been around for a long time. For a few years I'd select one at random, but more recently I've listened for Gus Lloyd on the Catholic Channel's Seize the Day to offer his list of 12-15 verses. Every year when he returns to the live radio show after Christmas holidays, he invites callers to pick a number and then he gives them the corresponding verse. I printed the verse Col 3:17 (assigned to the number I selected) and posted it in various places so I'd remember it. This turned out to be a powerful tool that really influenced my year. So after receiving the word Follow, I tuned into Seize the Day, picked the number 12, and received Phil 2:14-16

The more well-known popular verses from Philippians are found in Chapter 4, so when I turned to Philippians 2:14 and read, "Do everything without grumbling or questioning," I started laughing. I am the world's biggest grumbler and questioner! I think God is trying to tell me something.  To go from doing everything in the name of God giving thanks - to doing everything without grumbling or questioning! I hear you....

Going Forward
These three tools helped me find a starting point for my 2019 spiritual resolution of becoming more fully aware of God being present. This year He is saying, Come Follow Me and Do everything (I ask of you) without complaining. While the year opens with a challenge - especially that scripture - I place my trust in Him. Last year, God revealed Himself to me at four distinct specific times and I am resolved to not doubt Him going forward. He is always in control of our lives and sometimes the long road, the hard climb, is not only allowed, but necessary to bring us closer to Him. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Importance of Dating Your Spouse... Even After 20 Years

The importance of dating your spouse ... even after 20 years
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As Brian and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last month (YAY US!!), we were asked by another couple what one thing helps us keep our marriage strong. 10 years ago we might have struggled to come up with an specific answer, but over the last 5-6 years we figured out what really seems to make a difference for our marriage. 

Continuously dating your spouse.  When we got married Brian used to joke, I got you, now I can stop wooing.  And we’d laugh.  But we’ve discovered that in marriage, the wooing must never stop. We must remain in the mindset of dating or wooing to keep our marriage strong. 

If you’re like a few people I know who shall remain nameless, you’re going – Lisa, what in the world is “wooing?”  So, here’s the definition according to
Woo  - (verb)

to seek the favor, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage.

 Don’t you love it?  We’ve used that word for 25 years, but I’d never looked up the official definition until now and somehow, it’s perfect! 

I know it sounds a bit corny, but we've found that wooing or dating your spouse has several perks that strengthen our marriage.
  1. Dating helps our relationship be a top priority. Let's be honest, finding time to date your spouse can take a bit of creativity and planning.  We've discovered our date can be a walk around the block, hanging out in the backyard without the kids or a quiet dinner together after a long family-filled weekend.  But, finding that time, making our dates a priority for us, has helped us truly focus on our marriage. We need to put each other first which means, sometimes above our family or work commitments. 
  2. Dating keeps lines of communication open.  We've found that just being together, the two of us, allows us to talk.   Sure, sometimes we talk about the kids, work, the household and our schedules, but that helps us work through details and issues that we'd not found time to talk about yet.  And sometimes, we find ourselves daydreaming and sharing our hopes, dreams, fears, and plans for the future.  It is amazing what can come out of those conversations when we relax and be together.  
  3. Dating enhances your outlook.  I’ve found that when my husband and I are dating, we’re in sync. I feel lighter, more able to handle problems, and more positive.  Maybe, it’s because I’m reminded we’re a team and I’m not alone in the difficult moments.  When we have a date night on Sundays, I start my Monday feeling ready to tackle the week.   
  4. Dating helps you model Marriage for the kids. Throughout their lives, kids are taught that marriage is an important sacrament and foundation for the family.  By watching their parents date, they witness us placing a priority on our relationship and strengthening the family foundation. Only good came come from our kids watching us make time for each other.  
  5. Dating reminds you of why or how you fell in love. When you make the time to woo each other you find yourself doing the little things for the other person you might have done years and years ago.  Or you start noticing that your spouse is still doing those little things you found endearing before you were married.  Dating my spouse finds me smiling when he texts me in the middle of the day “just to check on how my day is going” or discovering that we still love to hold hands. 

Recently I shared more thoughts on Dating my Spouse on a Facebook Live event for CatholicMom.comYou can watch it here

Are you still wooing? How has it benefited your marriage?

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