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Seasons

I was reminded this weekend of how important time is.  We mark time by different seasons in our life.  Most of the time when we think of seasons we think of the four seasons of the calendar year.  Those seasons are Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Each one of those seasons brings with it something unique that reminds us of that time of year, and why we either love it or dislike it.  For instance, I am not too fond of Summer because it is just so miserably hot.  Once the temperatures start creeping beyond 90 F I find myself staying inside more and outside less.  The only time I do not mind sweating is when I am at the gym.  The rest of the time I do not care to.

We only have so much time here on this earth.  I believe that our allotment of time is given to us by our creator God and that it is our responsibility to use it as we will.  We can either use it productively or we can waste it away with frivolous activities.  As I said earlier, I was reminded of this because one of our members of our men’s life group is in the ICU at one of our local hospitals.  His precious wife woke up early Sunday morning to find her spouse not responding.  Thankfully through CPR and modern medicine they were able to bring him back and is now in ICU fighting for his life.  Why is it that it takes things like this to remind us of how precious life is?  Maybe we just assume that we will have another tomorrow when the reality of it is that we may not.

Seasons brings change.  Some of those changes are good, some are bad.  Some changes bring life and some brings death.  Some of those changes we have no control over like the seasons I described above.  Some things in our lives we do have control over such as how will I spend this 24 hours.  In a 24 hour period I get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.  That leaves me 16 hours for the rest of the day and 8 of those I spend at work.  That leaves me 8 hours to do with as I will.

Just this week one of my blogging friends described how she intentionally went through a digital detox.  She intentionally stayed away from social media because she realizes how much time she wastes with it.  How many of us can admit to the same thing?  How many hours have  I wasted on Facebook mindlessly scanning my time line to read this and that.  How much of the information I get from my Facebook timeline is a total waste of time?  Probably more than I would like to admit.

One of the things I have decided to do is to go through my Facebook friends list and take a hard look at who I am communicating with and why.  How many of my FB Friends actually communicate with me in a meaningful way?  Out of 462 supposed friends I have about 25 or 30 people that I either know in real life or have been communicating with online for quite some time.  All of those people are now in my Close Friends list and those are the people that I will be communicating with when I post to Facebook.  The rest of the people I moved to the acquaintance list and I unchecked the “follow on time line” so I do not see their posts.  I still have some folks that are not in the close friends list that I will chose to post to my time line because they have something interesting to say.  For the most part I have cut out all the endless drivel about politics and religion.  Some folks are just super obsessed with their view points and I have consumed way too much of it.  I have found that the overload of information about several topics has just affected me in a negative way.  It is time to cut back I believe.

Now that I am going to do less mindless following of my FB timeline I will have time to read books, write in our blog and reconnect with family and friends.  When I say reconnect I mean to reconnect the old fashioned way.  I am going to learn how to pick up the phone and call people.  I might even write a letter or two and drop them in the mail box.  How absolutely wonderful could that be? Would you like to have a pen pal?  If so, hit me up and we can do that.

I also plan on spending more time finding my Happy Places.  I spend some time down the street from our house at a place where I can pull off the road and see the Stono river.  It is relaxing to unplug from social media and enjoy nature.  It is nice to listen to the water lap against the rocks and watch the birds.  The locals like to come out to fish and catch crabs.  Sometimes I like to shut my eyes and just listen and catch a nap.  A small season to relax and enjoy some me time.  A slice of time and a place to reflect on what matters the most.

Do you struggle with things in your life that are a huge waste of time?  How do you deal with it?  I would love to hear from you dear reader.

 

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Moving on in 2012

I am happy that 2011 is behind us, and the holiday season is over.  Our family is on the mend and we are all feeling much better.  I am back to work, Justin is back to school, and spring semester for college starts up on January 9th for me.  I am not looking forward to school starting up again, but I am getting closer to my goal with regards to getting my associates degree.  I have three more semesters or 27 credits or 9 classes to complete for my degree program. 

There is a lot of talk on TV and social media about New Years resolutions.  It is a known fact that most folks who make New Years resolutions have a very difficult time keeping those resolutions during the new year.  One New Years resolution is to lose those extra pounds that we packed on as we gorged ourselves during the holidays.  Gym memberships go up and folks make an effort to work out.  I am ahead of the curve on this one folks.  I did not gorge myself during the holidays and I was sick and lost weight.  That was one positive thing about being sick.  My short term goal is to lose 1 lb per week and I am hopeful that I can meet or exceed that goal. 

In 2012 I plan on continuing my healthy living goals which are very simple.  I plan on eating meal choices that are healthier for me.  I also want to work on burning more calories than I consume.  That means that I need to continue down the path of going to Planet Fitness on a regular basis.  I would like to see myself going to Planet Fitness every day and getting a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.  Aerobic exercise is where I will begin to burn fat cells at an increased rate. 

In 2012 I plan on being less critical of myself.  I plan on living one day at a time and do the best I can with what I have.  I am my own worse critic, and boy do I love to judge myself, and remember those stupid mistakes from the past.  There is nothing I can do about the past, other than to learn from those mistakes and move on. 

In 2012 I plan on reducing my consumption of social media.  If I were honest with myself, I would have to say that I am a technology junkie (addict).  Technology to me is like mind candy, and I can not get enough of it.  I love social media, and having the ability to make personal connections with different people, via the many social media apps online.  I have an account with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google Plus, LinkedIN and many more.  My goal is to reduce how much time I spend on the different social media portals.  As I have been consumed with social media, I have gotten caught up in mindlessly wandering through multiple social media streams of endless content. 

In 2012 I want to help others, become more aware for their need for personal and family defense preparedness.  I have begun to work on a series of articles that take a no nonsense approach, to what personal and family defense preparation is and is not.  I want to find a balance between preparing for the end of the world as we know it, and the belief that crime happens to other people.  My goal is to help people to be better prepared to keep themselves and their families safe in the world we live in through common sense solutions. 

In 2012 I want to be a better husband to my wife of 21 years and father to my children.  I want to be more thoughtful, compassionate and loving.  I want to be a better Christ follower and someone that gives of myself back to the community.  I want to be a better friend that brings value to the lives of others.  I want to continue to be an encourager to those that need encouragement.   I want to be a man of integrity, courage and compassion. 

Dear readers, what are your goals for 2012?  Do you share some of my goals or are they very different than mine?  How can we help one another to be who we want to be?  I look forward to your comments. 

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Community

I came home late last night after working a short day, and then studying for a quiz in one of the three classes I am taking online at Trident Technical College.  I spend a lot of time working with technology, and staring at computers all day, so I had no plans on getting online when I got home.  I just wanted to stuff my face, and disengage my brain ,and watch some television.  I call television the idiot box because there is a lot of worthless garbage on it.  After a long day at the office, I like to stop solving problems, and just let me mind wander, and let it be filled with whatever favorite show is on at the moment.  Late at night, I typically watch channel 2 news, and the Tonight Show with   Jay Leno. I guess my parents got me hooked on the Tonight Show as a kid. I remember them watching the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was hosting it.  I like watching Jay Leno for his monologue, and to see which actor or actress he will be interviewing for the night.  It is interesting to me to see the real person that is behind the actor.  I am sometimes pleasantly surprised at how real, and sincere, and deep some of the folks are despite their fame and fortune. 

The other day I confessed my addiction to multitasking while sitting in front of the television.  I always have my laptop turned on, while watching the television, and eating supper, or a snack of some sort.  One of the reasons I have been battling a weight problem is because I have a need to snack, while sitting in front of the television.  Over the last 5 years, or longer, I have learned to eat sunflower seeds when I get the urge to snack.  One of the other things I am trying to change about myself is to have the ability to not always be multitasking.  Thanks to our new found desk I am trying to leave my laptop on the desk and not on my airdesk  next to my recliner.  I need to find a way for me to relax and watch TV, and not have to be surfing the Net, or paying attention to social media, or the IRC channel, that I have been helping to moderate for the last 2 or 3 years.  

I am drawn to social media and the IRC channel named #imprfect_christian because it is a community of people that I have learned how to connect with.  I spent a decade on IRC back in the early 90’s, when BBS’s were the hot thing going, and the way to connect with a community of people all around the globe.  Today there are still IRC networks and BBS’s that are in use by a lot of people.  I find it interesting that most folks that are on IRC have not adopted social media in the way that I have.  I think that most of them are just comfortable with the text chat interface, and for whatever reasons they have a dislike for Twitter, Facebook and the myriad of other social network applications.  

As I said earlier I was going to skip the nightly session on IRC, and social media, and just give it a rest. That lasted for about 20 minutes and then I found myself online once again, sitting at my desk eating supper, watching the news and chatting on IRC.  One of my friends from CT was online, and since she does not get online that often, we were catching up on life.  While we were chatting someone using the nick of itsmesteve logged onto the IRC channel, and told us that they were contemplating suicide.  When this was said our “troll alert” started going off.  You never know what is going through the minds of people when they come into an IRC channel and say something like that.  I did a whois command on the nick in question, and I could tell that they were not in any other channels on this IRC server.  Most of the time when someone is being a troll in a Christian channel, they are in a dozen other non Christian channels at the same time.  For whatever reasons some folks like to come into a Christian channel and be disruptive, or act out in order to get attention.  

In the case of itsemesteve he lost a loved one to a sudden myocardial infarction yesterday and he was experiencing some intense pain and anguish with the loss.  I spent some time chatting with him and encouraging him to speak about his feelings.  The person that he lost was an ex wife and apparently the children were blaming him for her death which was making matters worse.  I encouraged this person to reach out to local friends or family for support and I found out that he is a Christian which means that he will be able to lean on God during this time. 

One of the things I have learned from being online over the last 20 years, is that there are a lot of hurting people.  People are looking for love and acceptance, and relief from the pain they are experiencing.  I am glad that I am part of this online community, and more specifically, that I am able to provide a measure of comfort and support to folks like itsmesteve ,when they come into our channel late at night.  I am glad that we could be a safe haven for him to come, vent his feelings and share his pain.  Perhaps his being able to talk about the grief for a period of time, helped him to stop thinking about suicide.  

As I said earlier, I love social media, and the personal connections that I have made through it.  I believe that there are different people utilizing social media for different reasons.  Some folks use it as a means to network with others online, and advertise their services, so they can make a buck or two.  Some folks like me, just get online with social media for the people connections I can make, and to grow my community.  No matter why we get online, and no matter what social media applications we might use, we should be mindful that we are surrounded by hurting people, who may be going through some tough circumstances.  I know that I have met some very wonderful folks here in Charleston, who have blessed me tremendously because of the type of people that they are.  I guess that is what community is all about.  Being real with one another, and respecting one another, and walking down the road of life, and being there when folks need for us to be there.  

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