Tag Archive: google


facebook

so i mini ranted on Facebook the other day a complete pot-kettle-black question about whether social networking has made many of us a lot more beggy

and i do mean ‘us’ because the other day a carefully subtle form of ‘advertising’ on someone’s status led to the complete surprise gift of two bottles of my favourite chocolate liquer, ‘Nachtmusiek’ [which reminds me, we are still working through those].

but i see people do it all the time – “Working home alone tonite and wouldn’t complain if someone brought a T-Bone steak dinner over” or “Ah the new iPhone 5 is happening – be fun if someone didn’t need their old iPhone 5 any more.”

it is a pretty safe practice, because at the very worst you end up with exactly what you had before [or some jerk writes a blog post about you!] but at the very best, you might just get lucky and find two bottles of… um i mean find that someone has been completely gracious and kind and totally surprises you with what you want.

i guess as a once off or an every-now-and-then it might be more harmless, but when people start using that space regularly for personal wish fulfilment advertising then i guess it feels a little needy… here’s looking at you brett fish anderson…

BUT then, looking at it from a different perspective, i absolutely LOVE the potential of the social networks when it comes to meeting legitimate needs and connecting resources and need.

one of my friends [well more friend of a friend] won a trip overseas with his band [including my friend Dreadlocked Mike] because of using Facebook as a voting platform.

just today i had a friend of mine working with underprivileged youth in an area reach out to me for help and i was able to connect him with another friend of mine working in the same area with the hope that between them there will be someone in the network who will be able to help out with the necessary mentoring.

Val and i have been given use of vehicles on so many occasions [back in South Africa and here in Oakland] when we needed them through people who had a spare one, or were able to give us theirs for a time, so generously jumping in and helping out.

same with cellphones  we had one phone and two sim cards and made an appeal online and now we have something like 5 phones and it became an embarrassment of riches.

help with removing a stain or a recipe? jump online and pose the question and call on the collective wisdom of your friends and their friends [if Uncle Google doesn’t sort you out first] but a tried and tested solution often beats something you randomly look up online and hope will work.

this is where, for me, social networking becomes so useful and exciting as a tool – raising prayer and support for issues like with what just happened in the Philippines – suddenly via Val’s dad who was going to be there and Eugene Cho who was Twittering about One Day’s Wages as one possible organisation that could help and a whole bunch of other avenues of how to get involved.

as with any tool, i guess it’s success and value lies in how well you use it – and so the challenge is up to us to use it for far more of the latter [helping people out in need and joining available resources to areas of lack]

i would LOVE to hear your opinion and thoughts on this and maybe even more importantly hear your stories… missing people being found, old friends being reunited, mass encouragement for someone who is struggling a bit, positive flash mobbing – these are all amazing ideas and ways of using the social networks for good, rather than me-vil.

In the meantime, as you ponder upon these things, if you could follow this link and go and vote for my super hardcore design for a Christmas sweater [complete with dinosaurs, abominable snowmen, dolphins and ninjas] the top 100 that get voted for will actually be made and that would be a lot of fun.

 

no, i don’t have children. and neither does Anne Marie Miller actually. but when i read this piece she wrote the other day [that went completely viral and totally shut down her website, i need that it needed to be shared as clearly did everyone else… but reading her next three pieces [which are linked at the end of this] i would just recommend adding Anne’s blog to your blog reader list as she clearly has some very important stuff to say…

especially for parents of children and teens…

THREE THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN AND SEX

Dear Parents,

Please allow me a quick moment to introduce myself before we go much further. My name is Anne Marie Miller. I’m thirty-three years old. I’m newly married to a wonderful man named Tim. We don’t have any children yet, but we’re planning on it. For the purpose of this letter, you need to know I’m a recovering addict. Pornography was my drug of choice.

I grew up in the church – the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher man with a passion for learning the Bible. I was the honors student; the athlete; the girl who got along with everyone from the weird kids to the popular ones. It was a good life. I was raised in a good home.

It was 1996, I was sixteen, and the Internet was new. After my family moved from a sheltered, conservative life in west Texas to the ethnically and sexually diverse culture of Dallas/Fort Worth, I found myself lonely, curious, and confused.

DSCN4710

Because of the volatile combination of life circumstances: the drastic change of scenery when we moved, my dad’s depression, and a youth pastor who sexually abused me during my junior year of high school, I turned to the Internet for education. I didn’t know what certain words meant or if what the youth pastor was doing to me was good or bad and I was too afraid to ask. What started as an innocent pursuit of knowledge quickly escalated into a coping mechanism.

When I looked at pornography, I felt a feeling of love and safety – at least for a brief moment. But those brief moments of relief disappeared and I was left even more ashamed and confused than when I started. Pornography provided me both an emotional and a sexual release.

For five years I carried this secret. I was twenty-one when I finally opened up to a friend only because she opened up to me first about her struggle with sexual sin.We began a path of healing in 2001 and for the last twelve years, although not a perfect journey, I can say with great confidence God has set me free from that addiction and from the shame that followed. I returned to school to study the science behind addiction and family dynamics.

Over the last six years I’ve had the opportunity to share my story in a variety of venues: thousands of college students, men, women and teens. This summer, I was invited to speak at several camps to both junior high and high school students and it’s without exaggeration when I tell you with each year I counsel students, the numbers and the stories shock me more and more.

There are more students compulsively looking at pornography at younger ages and with greater frequency than ever before.

This summer, by a long stretch, was the “worst” in terms of what secrets I learned students carried. After my last night speaking at my last camp, I retreated to my room and collapsed on the bed face-first. Tim simply laid his hand on my back to comfort me.

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I could not logically reconcile in my mind all the confessions I heard over the summer with the children who shared them. While every story was unique in the details, in most situations, there were three common themes that kept surfacing.

  1. Google is the new Sex-Ed: Remember the first time you, as a parent, saw pornography? Likely it was a friend’s parent who had a dirty magazine or maybe you saw something somebody brought to school. Now, when a student hears a word or phrase they don’t understand, they don’t ask you what it means (because they fear getting in trouble). They don’t ask their friends (because they fear being ashamed for not knowing). They ask Google.Google won’t judge them for not knowing. Because of our short attention spans and desire for instant gratification, they don’t click the first link that shows up – they go straight to Google Images. In almost all of the stories I heard, this is how someone was first exposed to pornography – Google Image searching. The average age of first exposure in my experience was 9 years old.Google Sex Image Search
  2. If Your Child was Ever Molested, You Likely Don’t Know: Another extremelycommon theme was children being inappropriately touched, often by close family members or friends. When I was molested at sixteen, I didn’t tell a soul until I was in my twenties. I didn’t tell my own mother until I was twenty-eight. The stigma and shame of being a victim coupled with the trauma that happens with this experience is confusing to a child of any age: our systems weren’t made to process that event. Many things keep children from confessing abuse: being told they’ve made it up or are exaggerating, being a disappointment, and in most cases, getting the other person in trouble. While a child can look at pornography without being abused, children who have been molested by and large look at pornography and act out sexually.
  3. Your Child is Not the Exception: After speaking with a youth pastor at a camp, he said most parents live with the belief their child is the exception. Your child is not. The camps I went to this summer weren’t camps full of children on life’s fringes that one would stereotypically believe experience these traumatic events or have access to these inappropriate things. You must throw your stereotypes aside. Most of the children at these camps were middle class, mostly churched students.Let me give you a snapshot of a few things I heard from these students:
  • They’ve sent X-rated photos of themselves to their classmates (or received them).
  • They’ve exposed themselves to strangers on the Internet or through sexting.
  • They’ve seen pornography.
  • They’ve read pornography.
  • They’ve watched pornography.
  • The girls compare their bodies to the ones they see in ads at the mall or of actresses and keep those images hidden on their phone (or iPod, or whatever device they have) so they can try to imitate them.
  • They question their sexuality.
  • They’ve masturbated.
  • They know exactly where and in what movies sex scenes are shown and they watch them for sexual gratification.
  • They’ve had a same-sex experience.

And they’re terrified to tell you.

(Update: The focus of this article is on the conversation, not the action, though as parents, you need to be aware of the fact young children are experiencing these things. I feel the need to clarify none of these actions make someone a “bad” person. While this specific list does contain things many people with a Christian background consider to be sin, it is lack of communication that makes this dangerous at this age. Most of us go through exploratory phases before sexual phases: a three year old masturbating because he knows it feels good and a seventeen year old masturbating to porn for a sexual release are two different things. If your child is uninformed or uneducated about things they need to know based on what is appropriate for their age and sexual development, regardless of your beliefs, it leads to shame and self-doubt.)

But maybe you’re right. Maybe your child is the exception. I would argue at this juncture in life, being the exception is as equally dangerous.

At the end of every session I presented I intentionally and clearly directed students to ask me or another leader if they didn’t understand or know what a certain word meant. “Donot go to the Internet and look it up.”

Sure enough, there is always the child who stays behind until everyone leaves and quietly asks what the word “porn” means or if God is angry because that boy or girl from down the street told them it was okay for them to touch them “down there.” There is the child in the back row who leans over to his friend and asks, “what does molest mean?” and the other boy shrugs.

This summer, I am beyond grateful that mature, God-fearing adults were available to answer those questions with grace and tact and maturity; that we were in a setting that was safe for questions and confessions. It was entirely appropriate. Not every child gets that opportunity. Most won’t. Most will find out from the Internet or from a peer who isn’t equipped to provide the correct answer in the correct context.

Parent and Child

As the summer camp season ends, I feel a shift in my heart. For the last six years, I’ve felt a calling to share with students how God has set me free from the shame and actions of my past and that they aren’t alone (because they truly believe they are). One college dean referred to me as “the grenade we’re tossing into our student body to get the conversation of sex started” because they realized how sweeping these topics under the rug caused their students to live trapped and addicted and ashamed. I will continue sharing my testimony in that capacity as long as there is a student in front of me that needs to hear it.

However, I am more aware now more than ever before in my ministry how little parents know about what’s happening. And because I’m not a parent, I feel terribly inadequate in telling you this.

But I can’t not tell you. After seeing the innocence in the eyes of ten year olds who’ve carried secrets nobody, let alone a child, should carry; after hearing some of the most horrific accounts from students I’ve ever heard this year, I cannot go one more day without pleading with you to open up and have these difficult conversations with your children. Would you prefer your son or daughter learn what a “fetish” is from you or from searching Google Images? Talk to them about abuse and yes, even trafficking.

Just this month I met a relative of a girl whose own mother was selling her body from the time she was five until now, when she’s sixteen. This was not in some drug-infested ghetto you’d see on a news story. It was in a very upscale town in a very upscale state known for its nature and beauty and summer houses. Abuse does not discriminate.

Your children need to know. If not for them, maybe for a friend. Maybe they can help bring context or see warning signs.

Ask them what they know. Ask them what they’ve done. Ask them what’s been done to them. Show grace and love. Stay far away from judgment and condemnation. If you feel ill equipped, ask a pastor or counselor for help. If you hear an answer you didn’t expect and your first instinct is to dismiss it – don’t. Find a counselor. Look for resources. Continue following up. If you struggle with this (and let’s admit it, statistically, a lot of us do), get help too.

Do the right thing, the hard thing, for the sake of your children. If we don’t do this now, I am terrified of how the enemy will continue stealing hope and joy from our youngest generation and how they’ll be paralyzed to advance the Kingdom of God as they mature.

We cannot let this happen on our watch.

[*Specific details that could identify children have been changed in such a way that it does not affect the story and only protects the children. Mandatory Reporters reported confessions that involved abuse or neglect or situations that indicated a child was in any type of danger by using proper state laws and procedures.]

[For Anne’s follow-up article titled ‘Follow up responses to three things you don’t know about your children and sex’ click here]

[For Anne’s post called ‘Who do you want teaching your children about sex?’ click here]

[For ’20 resources to educate and equip parents and children about pornography and sex’, click here]

 

i have called Google ‘Uncle Google’ for a long time now – i’m not sure why i do that cos it’s very silly but it’s become my thing [which is probly why i do that]. i guess one reason is that when someone asks me something i don’t know i will either tell them to ask Uncle Google or i say that i will and it feels like bringing another person into the conversation.

joel osteen or martin short?

i read on Facebook this morning that well-known christian speaker and writer Joel Osteen has resigned and quit the faith. i’ve not been a huge fan of his writing as even his book titles suggest that he belongs to a group of christian writers/speakers who have a very strong focus on you – it’s all about you and becoming the best you you can be and being comfortable and happy and loving life, and so a brand of feel-good christianity that i’m not sure Jesus would be very comfortable with.

so when i read on Facebook that he had resigned and even quit his faith, my initial reaction was a bit of relief and “phew for Christianity” but then quite quickly i had another far more sobering thought… something along the lines of “Is that a Christ following reaction to have?”

as i read the article the announcement was linked to and how a church member said something along the lines of, “we gave him all our money and now he’s doing this to us. no ways, we’re not going to let him get away with that” i thought to myself, ‘wait a second, am i standing in line with all the other people ready to throw rocks at Joel?’

so question one that is asked of me is what is my attitude and posture when someone else falls [especially if it’s someone i’m not a big fan of] – is that a reason to celebrate, to quietly feel relieved or happy that someone else is not in a good place? doesn’t sound very Jesusful

then for some reason, i decided to check in on Uncle Google and get his thoughts [yes, i get that he’s not a real person and with all the knowledge he has i should be referring to him as she, right?]

and so i do the customary search i do every time i see the words when i come across the maths problem:

[thing i would really like to have – money, computer, latest phone] + [Facebook]

which is to type [thing i would like to have] and the word [hoax] into Uncle Google…

and sure enough, there are links to the Joel Osteen thing being a hoax [to be honest, not as many as there normally are with a blatant Facebook hoax so i am not even sure yet whether it is or isn’t]

WHAT TO LEARN FROM THIS LITTLE LESSON:

#1 would be to always verify information received before acting on it – in the virtual world we have of hoaxes and misreporting and photoshop and so on, there is a lot of misleading information going around there.

#2 would be to question why am i sharing information – someone dies, someone falls from grace, celebrity scandal etc – why am i so quick to become part of the gossip chain of passing this on?

#3 would be to question if sharing the information is “me doing my bit” – this is definitely a different blog post but it is a valid question that came to me while i was giving us some stuff to think about – the whole thing with Kony2012, with articles on poverty and violence to women etc is that me feeling like i’ve done my bit so i don’t need to get involved or is that me trying to get some momentum for the action i am going to be doing?

ready to throw?

#4 would be where do i stand when someone falls? [regardless of my feelings towards that person] – am i holding a rock and waiting for the signal, or am i on my knees praying for them and their family, crying out against injustice done, am i writing them a note of encouragement or offering to cook them a meal if they are someone i know? how would Jesus have me respond to crisis of any type?

these are important questions i need to ask myself. and i hope some of you will join me…

i don’t know who matthew hammitt is, but the other day i was in the car listening to the radio and this song came on with these lyrics which struck me:

“let me recklessly love You, even if i bleed, cos You’re worth all of me”

it happened to be a christian radio station [and i just asked uncle google to find out that matthew hammitt is the lead singer of sanctus real, a band i really enjoy] and so i saw it as a worship song to God [although looking at the rest of the lyrics of the song, it may not necessarily be that] and really enjoyed those lines from that perspective.

a lot of worship music and christianity has become about me – bless me God, look after me, make it all about me, and so it is quite refreshing seeing the giving shift from God to us and the extent of real love [whether directed at God, or a person] to the point of shedding blood…

here is the whole song:

MATTHEW HAMMITT – All Of Me

Afraid to love
Something that could break
Could I move on
If you were torn away?
And I’m so close to what I can’t control
I can’t give you half my heart
And pray He makes you whole

(Chorus)
You’re gonna have all of me
You’re gonna have all of me
‘Cause you’re worth every falling tear
You’re worth facing any fear
You’re gonna know all my love
Even if it’s not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me is where I’ll start

I won’t let sadness steal you from my arms
I won’t let pain keep you from my heart
I’ll trade the fear of all that I could lose
For every moment I share with you

Chorus

Heaven brought you to this moment, it’s too wonderful to speak
You’re worth all of me, you’re worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed
You’re worth all of me, you’re worth all of me

Chorus (X2)

It’s where I’ll start

no, no, it’s not a typo, it’s a rethink.

the word ‘resolution’ should be good enuff because it comes from the base word “resolve” and if people truly resolved to do the resolutions they make [altho i don’t actually know of many people that make them – they seem to be this mythical beast that people avoid because they know they will lose the battle] then the world would probably be a better place, depending i guess on the resolutions being made of course.

i found this quote on one of my social networks today and tried to uncle google a source but couldn’t find one, so will have to dedicate to that ‘john doe’ of famous unknown author quotations, ‘A Non’:

“The distance between ignorance & knowledge is much shorter than the distance between knowledge & practice.”

and this i believe is true. we all know what we need to do to change the world, or at the very least make it a little bit better for someone else we know, but we too seldom convert that knowledge to action.

hence the title of this post – how are you going to evolve/change/grow/transform as you head into 2012?

like really? not a wish list or a dream list of that-would-be-nice ideas. i’m talking about making an actual plan… so when my friend Sam commented on what she would like to see happen next year, “maybe cooking” i jumped on and suggested she sign up for a basic cooking class…

because the resolutions generally start with ‘i’d like to’ or ‘it would be good if’

so “i’d like to lose weight” – join a plan, pick a diet, cut out fizzy drinks/chocolate etc
“i’d like to be nicer to other people” – pick a person, make a plan, volunteer somewhere
“i want to read my Bible more” – choose a time for doing so, cement it in your daily planner

it doesn’t matter so much what it is, but try and be more specific with your plans for 2012 so that your resolutions [what you resolve to do] become actual evolutions [changes, transformations] because as some wise oke once said “if you continue to do the thing you’ve always done, you will continue to get the same results you’ve always gotten.”

so, if you read this, i would dig it if you comment and let me know one thing you are planning on doing differently in 2012. and go!

for some ideas on good evolutions to consider, keep reading…

[to the tune of ‘I am Spartacus’ and yes it’s okay that most of you don’t know who that is but let google be your friend – ignorance away!]

so this last week tbV and mself had been invited to speak at the national Scripture Union staff conference held at Rocklands campsite in Simonstown. as we interacted with them on the first night and during the next day this one lady stood far out from the general crowd

and yes, her name was Cynthia, well done Holmes!

Cynthia is an elderlyish lady type person – if you go by years – and small of stature but absolutely ginormous of heart – she was one of the youngest people on camp and so the next morning session i wanted to honour her and so i said something along the lines of, “Cynthia, you are slightly older than a lot of the people here and i don’t want to ask your age but…” “I’M
66!!!” she shouts out…  priceless

so at 66 this lady was really one of the youngest people there and i said a few things about that like i know people who are 23 years of age who are incredibly old and yet i know her – and this other lady Rita Reed at my last church congregation – who in years appear to be old, but in heart and character and action are completely young and vibrant and living and completely modelling what Jesus called us to when He spoke of “life to the full” in John 10.10

i think people die pretty soon after realising they are old – but when i grow up – and it’s bound to happen sooner or later – i want to be as young as Cynthia. She competed in a hardcore arduous Amazing Race they ran which was not for the faint hearted and where one of the 9 teams pulled out completely to go to a coffee shop and a few individuals from other teams gave up, Cynthia and her team finished in third place.

for me age is just a number you can work out by looking at your birth certificate or id – how old you are is how you choose to live life – do you embrace it or do you try to survive it?

Be pro-life. Start with yourself! Live! Breathe! Embrace! Jump! Dare!

[as an aside i want to brag about the beautiful Val who had to endure a meal of scrambled eggs – which she is not the biggest fan of – and snails – which made her puke and yet continued to finish the race in the freezing cold with her team, while a bunch of ‘old people’ had given up and were drinking coffee!]

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