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Time to stand up to cyberbullies

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Leave the children alone. And for that matter, leave my brothers and sisters alone. Leave my family alone.

It’s about time someone stood up to the bullies.

Even though I’ve had enough of pastors and others using the pulpit and the keyboard to embarrass, ridicule, and point to the “sins” of others, while hiding behind LLC’s, half-truths, and undocumented videos to spread misinformation–until now I’ve chosen to ignore such foolishness for the most part rather than to expend any energy on it.

Cyberharassment or cyberstalking that affects and targets a family, however, has now caught my attention, and those adults who engage children in such endeavors are no longer on equal ground and the ick gets ickier, the stakes are raised, and the bullies need to remember that words do hurt.

Adult bullies may easily forget they are dealing with children, and when children suffer, so do their families–and so do we all.

Many may have the misconception that anyone old enough to hold a phone, create a Facebook account, or set up a Twitter ID is old enough to defend themselves against an onslaught of vicious remarks and moral commentary–but they’re wrong.

Children and teenagers, especially those who are born into minister’s families, are especially vulnerable. They may already feel like they live in a fishbowl and have no right to privacy.

I should know.

It was my own imperfect son, now an adult with four children, who pointed out to me last night that one of my dearest friends’ own teenage son took his life following a month of what another close friend described as by being “cyberbullied” by “merciless” bloggers and Tweeters.

Just because the teenager chose to live in this century and engage in social media, didn’t mean he invited adults to engage in conversation or talk openly about his life choices without his permission. That’s called cyber-harassment and cyber-stalking, according to a law enforcement website.

Some of the folks who engaged in that egregious behavior have had a disagreement with my friend for years. And they’ve let him and others know it. They’ve contacted media outlets. They’ve broadcasted their concerns far and wide. They’ve put a lot of energy into telling their side of the story. They seemingly refuse to agree to disagree with my friend or others who don’t see things their way. They relentlessly stalk him, taunt him, badger him, and refuse to go away.

I can’t tell you the depths of despair I am in for my friend and his wife. For all of my friends out there who have been publicly flayed by a communications phenomenon that is easily and readily used to edify and exhort, to uplift and encourage, to hold accountable–but has all too often been used to destroy, damage, embarrass, ridicule, harass and vent–I’m sorry and disappointed.

Apparently, it’s now OK to go against the grain of what even those who are outside our evangelical world know is forbidden. Apparently it’s OK to draw the children in.

Oh, the stories we can all tell about this person’s daughter who got pregnant out of wedlock, or this person’s son who lived a homosexual lifestyle, or this person’s daughter who listened to crazy music and read trashy books, or this person’s son who spewed forth bad language in a public place, or this person’s daughter who has a drug problem, or this person’s son who spent time in jail for stealing or this person’s daughter who wore dresses that are shorter than we consider modest.

But to what end shall we go about airing the sins of our children or putting ourselves in the seat of judge and deciding about which aspects of their lives we should publicly comment?

Instead, friends, when tempted by the White Witch (Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis) who offers us bold words, or too much Turkish Delight–flee. Don’t be drawn in by those who are bent on destruction. Think about what might motivate men (and women) who lead by slander and by seeking to find fault with others–and post or RT with comments and photos of people’s families and children and grandchildren–in order to ridicule or belittle them.

Steer clear of preachers, ministers, writers, bloggers, and commenters who are so immature that they lead you down a path that mixes in just enough Bible truth with plain nonsense to make themselves sound reasonable. They are seeking to build their own kingdoms, not the Kingdom. Listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you.

And when you are tempted to tell me what is permissible according to the First Amendment, let me remind you that whatsoever might appear to be strictly legal, is not always the right thing to do.

Finally, brothers and sisters–we can and should agree to disagree on many issues, including how one should repent and what one should repent for.

I leave for you this passage my mother marked in her Bible many years ago from Philippians:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:4-9 ESV).

For our children–and for our families–stand up to the cyberbullies!

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July 30, 2014 · 7:17 pm

A Narnia kind of summer

Madelyn, 6; Joey, 7; and Ella, 1.75

Madelyn, 6; Joey, 7; and Ella, 1.75

One of the most positive things about being in a job transition is that I have been able to have a delightful time sharing unexpected moments with my grandchildren.

It’s been a Narnia kind of summer for me. Not all bad, not all good, but full of unexpected surprises.

Two days ago, after spending a delightful Sunday lunch with three of our four grandchildren and their other grandmother — my husband and I took Ella June, who is 21-months-old, and Joey, almost 7, home for the rest of the day.

We quickly changed into swimwear and headed to the neighborhood pool.

“Nana, nana, Papa, Papa,” Ella squealed. She relished at jumping into our arms, floating around using a special safety device, and climbing the steps to splash with me in the kiddie pool.

Joey jumped off the diving board a few times, raced me to the side of the pool to claim his goggles, and snorkeled with Papa for a bit before heading off to meet some of the kids from near his house.

It’s been a lot of fun to live in the same neighborhood just a few blocks away from our children and grandchildren for the past few months. They bring certain peace and great joy.

I really got a look when I suggested a popular burger place and ice cream for a quick dinner. I know my husband must have thought I got too much sun or something!

Tucking the kids into bed later and snapping off the light, I remember thinking about all of the little snatches of conversation we had. There was the “talk” about a new bedspread for the kids room I am making from a Bible storytelling cloth. There was the conversation about healthy food we eat (usually) to take care of the bodies God gave us. There was the easy choice of C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian to watch at home after dinner.

Prince Caspian through the eyes of a seven year old was pure joy. Instead of a typical war movie or a movie about the battle between good and evil, it was the opportune time for Joey to learn how C.S. Lewis wove biblical principles into almost every aspect of the battle–from the strategy of always being ready to give a good defense–to showing mercy and grace. The idea of how evil will tempt us and those whom we love. And how we can go to God (Aslan) who is waiting for us–on our behalf and also intercede for others. It was as if in every minute of the movie, there was another clear principle. And Joey got it. I mean he really, really got it. He was articulate about pointing out the principles all of the way through.

Wow. I really admired C.S. Lewis before and I’ve long been a fan, but now I know for sure. It’s not the writing, the actors, the presentation, the scenes, the technicians, or the moviemakers. It’s the sheer story in all of its glory that holds me and my grandchildren.

It’s the knowledge that in the background, all-knowing Aslan is watching over everything.

This morning, after I talked to his baby sister on the phone and after we discussed rewriting a story for a better lead, and I showed him the before and after story I recently completed for a client–Joey asked me about the genuine Turkish Delight he discovered in my food cupboard.

“Can I try it?”

“But of course,” I told him. “Who do you think I got it for.”

“I thought so,” he dimpled. “I thought so.”

So much fun in just a few hours.

Deeply enriching. Full of meaning.

All a part of our Narnia kind of summer.

Resting in the knowledge that our all-knowing God is ever present. He provides joy, peace, comfort and contentment. And often He does it through those little ones we are privileged to call grandchildren.

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July 29, 2014 · 11:27 pm

REVIEW: Sharpen your teeth on ‘God Less America’

GodLessAmerica-ebook A hard-nosed journalist who is intellectual, but not an elitist, Fox News & Commentary radio host and author Todd Starnes is a sweet-tea drinking Southerner who has made it his business to seek justice for those who still believe in the red, white and blue.

In God Less America Starnes delivers reality with satire so that we are able to digest more easily the truly sad nature of what happens when freedom is taken for granted and a generation neglects its duty.

Like sweet nuggets just inside green husks of corn-on-the-cob, Starnes’ stories are ready to be shucked. Readers will want to sharpen their teeth and keep coming back for more.

Fortunately, like all great satirists before him, Starnes leaves readers with hope. But without an acknowledgement of a problem–there can be no hope. If you need any convincing that there is an aggressive culture war on religious liberties, or even conservative values, read the book and get started on a path towards action. Don’t wait.

Finally, don’t be fooled. Starnes is nobody’s fool. Sure, there’s a lot of talk about sweet tea and Cracker Barrel rocking chairs, Duck Dynasty and fried chicken. But this stuff matters for those of us who care about free speech, the right to worship, property rights, and more. Order it today! http://www.amazon.com/God-Less-America-Stories-Traditional/dp/1621365913

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May 5, 2014 · 12:00 pm