Thursday, April 29, 2010

About: Two Women I Love!

I have a mother.
I love her very much!

I have a second mother.
I love her very much as well!

They're best friends. They love each other very much too! :)
This post I'm dedicating to both of these dear women.

My mom: Julia
My 2nd mom: Laura

They are many things.

{1} Dear friends...
{2} I'm convinced they're sisters that were separated and have been reunited at long last!
{3} They act alike
{4} Both sing beautifully
{5} Their faces resemble one another
{6} Godly encouragements t
o me
{7} Godly encouragements to each other

Every time I observe their interaction, I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to have a friend so dear. Well, He has, I suppose (anyway... beside the point).
I can't believe it, but these two dear women have known each other just over a year.

All of these verses describe their relationship, I believe:

Proverbs 12:26 ~ The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads astray.

Proverbs 17:17 ~ A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:34 ~ A man who has a friend must himself be friendly, but there is a friend w
ho sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:6 ~ Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:9 ~ Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27: 17 ~ As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 ~ {The value of a friend} Two are better than one, because they have a
good reward for their labor.

Mama and Mamalala... I love you both so much and am constantly blessed by your relationship. I pray the Lord will bless you with years and years of friendship and encouragement!

Blessings, dear ladies!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

About: Virtual Friendship

Let's begin with a reasonably safe prediction: you are not likely to finish this article. That is not merely because of the prose of the author (though I concede it doesn't help.) It is based on reliable statistics that indicate how attention spans have shortened.

It may be an exaggeration to suggest, as The Atlantic Monthly provocatively proposed a few months ago, that Google is making Americans stupid. But the internet giant and its co-conspirators are rendering us more restless, and, as in the title of Maggie Jackson's recent book, distracted. In our digital age, focused attention is made more difficult. Multitasking fragments of our thinking, and moments of reflection are punctured by the urgent text message. Concentration drifts after a few paragraphs, and we have lost the art of deep and thoughtful reading.

We are reasonably computer literate by now. Technologically enhanced social networking via cell phones, email, blogging, twitter, or whatever is next are unavoidable features of our electronic landscape. We have come to accept the reality of them with little reflection. Beyond our atrophied reading habits, the effect of our social networking world is at least twofold: it trivializes the notion of friendship and it erodes our sense of community.

I have a colleague who has 1,035 Facebook friends. By Facebook standards, that is probably unremarkable. At the same time, of course, it is also a lie. Friendship is humanly impossible on such a mass scale. What results is exhibitionistic too-much-information for most: your colonoscopy this morning is really not my business. Meanwhile, those who are genuinely close to you wonder why the learned of the death of your mother from your twitter that instantly informed untold masses.

However Facebook may claim to "manage" our friends, we simply cannot keep track of such volumes. I have accumulated more than I can handle, at least 400, a quarter of whom I have never met. (On at least a couple of occasions, I confirmed a friendship with a perfect stranger fully convinced the person was somebody else.) Above all, no one can assume the expense of these associations. As Maggie Jackson observed, Facebook friends do not increase the number of folk to whom one is prepared to donate a kidney.

I have fallen into the habit of closing emails to friends I have not seen in years with words to the effect that "I hope our paths cross soon." This has become a cliche that I am trying to eliminate. But it illustrates the truism that friendship demands real contact. Electronic culture separates as it disembodies. The paradox is that it links us to folk far away while it separates those from whom we are closest. We are increasingly isolated even as we make the false boast that we have overcome time and distance and "reconnected."

The superficiality of these technologies is demonstrated by the proliferation of e-conflict. Scarcely anyone who has been on email has not experienced a serious miscommunication, even with an old friend. I have made what I thought were extremely clever online jokes, only to be accused of "flaming" beause my humor lacked the non-verbal message to couch it in the proper context. Is it any wonder, therefore, taht our Lord in Matthew 18 commands reconciliation through direct, face-to-face engagement?

Even worse, social networking has transformed friendship into a commodity. We collect friends in our desire to build status. Online personalities (even to the point of multiple identities and gender-bending) are carefully constructed as we crave the attention we hope it stirs. Christine Rosen has observed that the Socratic imperative to "know thyself" is altered in cyber culture to "show thyself." Here there is little shame. (One aquaintance of mine used his Facebook status in order to chronicle his writer's block.) Even the novelty of it all sinks in the vast ocean of pointless public diarists. Rosen describes Facebook as "an overwhelmingly dull place of monotonous uniqueness, of conventional individuality, of distinct sameness."

The hours we spend on such things leaves less time to engage in thoughtful correspondence with genuine friends. Why go through the time and effort to hand write and post a letter when you can "poke" dozens of friends? And cyberflowers are a lot cheaper than the real thing. Eventually, friendship becomes a competition: when will I crack the "Fave 5" on my friend's cell phone service?

In all of these examples, friendship is cheapened when reduced to utilitarian purposes. Can we even recognize genuine friendship after all? Unlike family (including one's church family) or neighbor (whom we are commanded to love and serve), friendship is premised on distinctive grounds. It entails choice (you do not choose family or neighbor), and it demands high levels of trust, respect, and privacy. In short, friendship has to cost something to be genuine.

Last week, in the course of a work related email exchange with a young woman, I discovered that she was the niece of an old friend of mine. "I cannot wait to tell my uncle taht we connected!" she wrote back. Her expression gave me pause. Is that what we did? And what does it mean, after all, to "connect?" Are we now friends? Facebook aligns friends of friends (of friends) based on thin affinity, either real or perceived. It is a fluidity of drive-by relationships. Maybe there was a reason, after all, for your college roommate to lose contact with you over the course of the past two decades. Perhaps you were not really connected in the first place.

I do not wish to deny that there are some legitimate uses of social networking. This morning I was gladdened to learn from Facebook taht my long-suffering Tabletalk editor, Chris Donato, is the proud father of his second healthy baby boy. (Hmm, perhaps that will distract him from noticing that my submission remains overdue.) Facebook may be a means of assisting established contacts; but can it create and maintain relationships that are otherwise unsustainable? That seems to raise two more questions: are these connections really necessary, and more importantly, do they compete with your non-facebook friends? The internet giveth, and it taketh away.

Defenders of social networking eagerly promote its promise to regenerate lost community, to heal the fractures of our fast-forward paced lives. Nowhere is this claim more confidently made than in churches today, whose craving for members mirrors the individual's tally of friends. It is astonishing to consider how desperately churches are trying to get wired. "Ministers of Technology" set out to build community through the internet. One pace-setting church assures skeptics that it is not interested in replacing face-to-face connections with virtual ones. But that is exactly what it will do. Plenty of studies indicate that internet connectedness comes at the expense of non-virtual relationships. A family left my church recently complaining about its lack of fellowship opportunities. The session racked its brain over this complaint, because it seemed that the family was failing to avail itself of plenty of social opportunities in the church. Finally the mother confessed that she craved a fellowship "where I can Facebook chat all day like I do with my homschooling network."

Shane Hipps writes in his Flickering Pixels: "Digital social networking inoculates people against the desire to be physically present with others in real social networks -- networks like a church or meal at someone's home." Why the messiness of real interaction when you can login to worship? In an online church, there is no assembly required!

Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, numbers among the cyberchurch skeptics. Church attendance genuinely diversifies, but the homogeneity of the virtual world is a cyberapartheid that masquerades as community. In Putnam's words, the internet is "unlikely in itself to reverse the deterioration of our socail capital."

Contrary to the inconvenience and inefficiency of genuine community, virtual communities have the advantage of allowing one to leave as easily as one joined. Disappearing can be as simple as not responding to an email. (Who among us is prepared the first cyberstone at someone who got buried under his email inbox?) Or there is a one-click means of "unfriending" a cyberpest. With these exit strategies, social networks are less communities than lifestyle enclaves. One sociologist has aptly described them as "networked individualism." Individualism and consumerism were not invented by the internet, of course. But the internet allows these dynamics to flourish and to dominate our sovial arrangements.

So our challenge is to reckon with the multitasking, split-screen, ringtone culture of the internet. Calvin College's Quentin Schulze encourages us to distinguish between good and bad "habits of the high-tech heart." Technological restraint is good for the sould, the mind and the church. We need to reshape our environment to enlarge our attention spans and deepen our commitments to friends and community.

You made a small start by finishing this article. Now read the next. Then write a letter to a friend. Texting or blogging is cheating.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
John R. Meuther is professor of church history and librarian at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He is also denominational historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Friday, April 23, 2010

About: The GIFT of God

After having a conversation with a friend yesterday, I decided I would blog it. :)

Rom 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)

Eph 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (KJV)

Salvation is God's gift to the human race.
Yet, there are people who believe that we can reject God's gift... that we have the choice to.
But honestly, when have you ever heard of someone rejecting a FREE gift?

Example that Cody posted on facebook:

Being #1: "Excuse me. Hi. Here is a free gift from me to you. :)"
Being #2: "Oh. Ummmm...yeah...I'm not gonna open it. But thanks anyway."

Sounds ridiculous, right?
A normal person would say, "right." ;)

Please let me know what you think!

Anyway, I know this is a short post... But I'm sick and I have to go practice for Barberville!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

About: What's Coming!

It's coming...


Brace yourself, world...



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okay, okay... nothing bad is happening.

Something GREAT IS happening!
It's that time of yeeeeeeeeeeear again!

/\ that was dramatic music, btw ;)


The Stone Family Band (aka, my family and I) will be performing 3 times that weekend... so excited! Check the schedule here and here for both Saturday and Sunday.

And, that is all for the moment... we have company and this is the last night they're here *sad* so I am going to spend my last night with them. (I'll post on this fun week later)

Ciao y'all! ;)

Monday, April 5, 2010


(I apologize in advance for the scatter-brainedness of this post. :)
Hey y'all! :D
Well, I must say! Today has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! God is good in bringing Spring back to Florida! :D As I put on my facebook status just today:

"cleaning my room! all the windows open... lookin out at our MONSTER-HUGE coral colored snap dragons, purple flower covered yard, big yellow daises and varied colored goats! I tell ya what... I was missing color and asked God to bring it back soon... wasn't expecting SOO much! When you ask Him for something, He really goes above and beyond, doesn't He?!? :D ♥"

And it's true!! *sigh* I'm very content right now :)

Today's been super productful!
☼Read God's word and had my quiet/prayer time
♫Practiced music
○Cleaned my room
○House patrolled the rest of the house (Cleaned)
*Wrote a few emails
>Read some in Ishmeal (the AMAZING book that made me cry so hard... I think I'll do a review later.)

AND! Jean Marie spent the night last night and left around 12 or so... so all these things have been done between then and now (5:00)

This pic makes me think of 2 things:
1) I'm sunburned from our amazing day at the beach last week with great friends *ouch*
2) Barberville is coming up!

3 actually... I lied.
3) I love my dad!

EGAD! I lied again! 4 things...
4) I'm REALLY loving playing the guitar :)

Ok... enough lying for now ;)

But seriously... make sure to come on out and see The Stone Family Band perform at Barberville! Twice on Saturday and once on Sunday with a Jam tent... you can look at the schedule for more info or email me :)

I can't remember if I said this already or not, but I finished my school! :D So MUCH less of this \/

and more of this \/
oops... not that...!


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Anyway... Hope y'all are doing GREAT!!!
And yes... I'm in a fantabulous mood! lovin this weather and thanful for God's mercies!!
GREAT is HIS faithfulness!