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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother |

Social Media Savvy = the New Survival Skill

“Kids have to have the skills for this century,” I told a mother about social media.

“Yes, I know. That’s why my kids study robotics,” was her answer.

Robotics has as much to do with social media as an electric weedeater does with cars. Operating one has nothing whatsoever to do with the other.

Sometimes parents tell me that letting their kids use social media is a privilege.  I’ll add to that: it’s a parent’s responsibility to ensure their teens know how to use social media. 

Not just to post

  • “I’m booooorreeed. Text me at xxxxx.” on FB. 
  • photos of girls gone wild on spring break on Myspace
  • videos of boys busting out all over on Youtube
  • status lines like “I hate my job cause my boss is stupid and our customers are a royal pain.”
  • joining groups celebrating flatulence with four letter words.

Parents must encourage their kids to add content and value to the social media conversation.  Teach by example is the best way.

This is a survival skill. Watch Socialnomics on Youtube.  Already more people search Facebook for info than Google.  Employers evaluate social media in their hiring decisions. Scholarship committees background check before giving money.

As parents, we pay for SAT/ACT prep classes.  We seek tutors, drive kids to sports, and work to help them get ready for college. Shouldn’t we also help them develop social media skills to distinguish themselves from the pack?

Legally, teens can begin to use most media outlets at age 13. Don’t start them early; not everything on social media is G rated. Do start them as a younger teen so you can observe their use of social media and they can learn to handle tough situations. This is like driving lessons – you want to coach your kids through their first experience driving on ice to help them learn to handle the slick spots.

Basic ways teens can use social media well and benchmarks they need:

  • Post information on Facebook. Know how to discern friends and how to post appropriately.
  • Discern who to add as friends and who to refuse. Understand privacy settings and how to adjust them.
  • Upload photos and videos directly to Facebook and have the wisdom to know the difference between a photo to post and 1 to delete.
  • Upload a video to Youtube by age 16.
  • Create and maintain a written blog by age 17. I use WordPress. Let your kids write their blog on their passion. When they write about what excites them, it will develop their knowledge base, their interest, and their writing skills.
  • Search Twitter by age 17 and set up a  Twitter account by age 18. (Under 18 Twitter account could be under a pseudonym with a non-face photo for security purposes.)
  • Use Twitter well by age 18 – to engage in conversations and real time chats. College textbooks are often dated as soon as they are printed. Twitter is the fastest way to keep up with tech changes and opportunities in every field and to meet the industry thought leaders.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile before leaving for college and begin to collect references and network contacts.
  • Know how to audit their social media footprint and make sure they are branding themselves well.

Bad things can happen when teens drive cars. So we teach them to drive well & pray they stay safe.

Ditto for social media.


3 Steps to Thriving Beyond a Dad Gap

Greeting card companies miss a niche market with Father’s Day cards.  They could have a bad dad section.  Some dads don’t deserve “world’s greatest dad” cards.  A card saying “Happy Father’s Day” and nothing else could help.  Maybe people won’t buy “world’s worst dad cards,” even if they are deserved.

Sometimes, the nicest thing that could be said is “thanks for leaving.”

My dad gap has early roots; he never saw me stumble and fall, perform, compete, graduate, or get married. I have no happy childhood memories of him.

Statistics suggest someone with my background will most likely repeat those cycles.

People with dad gaps can survive and thrive. The following help me:

1. Find Surrogates: Girls who grow up without dads are more insecure.  God sent me a wonderful husband and a handful of trusted surrogates who encourage me, validate me, and are there when needed.

2. Break Cycles: There is no “Healthy Family as a Second Language” class.  My kids are blessed with a good dad.  I watch him encourage, talk, and be there for them and marvel.  They are blessed to have a dad who not only cares but loves his family with his whole heart.  As I watch him parent our children, I experience for the first time that sometimes guys are good and dads are a great thing to have. We are not doomed to pass on the chains that bind us. We can break those chains. Good workshops, Bible studies, and a few good counselors helped me.

3.  Pay it Forward: When I was younger, surrogates stepped forward to try to fill my Dad Gap.  They couldn’t completely fill it, but their efforts laid the groundwork for me to find a good husband with whom I could build a healthy relationship. Now it’s my turn to pay that forward – to encourage young, struggling adults.

We always have hope.  Tomorrow can be a better day.  I thank God for helping me find beauty beyond the ashes of a rotten childhood.

Though I’ll never buy a Father’s Day card for my dad, I can help my children honor their dad and show him just how much he is appreciated.  And I can doubly savor how precious his gift of fatherhood to our children is.

Richard and my kids taught me that a good dad may be hard to find, but he’s worth the effort.


Insurance Claims After a Disaster

This is a column I wrote 5 years ago after Hurricane Katrina to help victims.  Perhaps Nashville friends can use it now.

This Too Will Pass
It does get better. Four years ago, our home burned, and the following are things I learned which might help.

Safety first: Loved ones matter more than things. Don’t risk yourself for any belonging. Make sure tetanus shots are updated. If/when you work on your house, wear pants with knees in them.

Secure the perimeter: If you can, put temporary patches on holes in roofs or windows. It might help prevent further damage.

Educate yourself: What are insurance laws in your state? How long do you have to file a claim? Who is your state’s insurance commissioner, and how do you contact him if your insurance company stalls you? Do you have replacement insurance coverage or actual insurance coverage? If you have replacement insurance coverage, how does it work and what must you do (how are receipts handled, etc.)? How is your insurance organized? Ours was divided into 3 categories: temporary housing (save receipts from meals); content replacement; and rebuilding our home. How much coverage do you have? If your house is older, do you have code insurance? In our city, older homes must be rebuilt to current code. Without code insurance, this is out of the homeowner’s pocket. With our company, the actual value of a lost item was calculated with a formula they had which calculated the difference between replacement cost and the age of the item. That ten-year-old couch you had when you first got married isn’t worth much.

Simplify your life: If you have suffered a major loss, you have just inherited an intense, temporary part-time job that will seem to be full time. The better you organize it and the harder you work, the faster and more fully your family will recover from the disaster.

Delegate: Who in your family has which strengths, talents, and time? I get excited at the prospect of putting together a binder, so I inherited the claim. My husband is stronger at finishing tasks, and his job the last year of the claim was pushing me so I wouldn’t quit, which I wanted to do on several occasions. Teams accomplish more than solo acts.

A Quick Guide to Organization

You will need to have a portable, packable office, so buy the following first so you can organize better as you go.

File bucket (with handle) to be packed with the following:

Top compartment:
pens
pencils
post-it notes
cheap calculator
paper clips
binder clips
section or envelope for business cards

Bottom compartment:
Baby wipes
Band-Aids
Latex gloves
Trash bags
Ziploc bags
Multi-subject notebook
Anti-bacterial hand wash which doesn’t need water
Pocket folders
Camera with extra film rolls (or batteries)
Paper towels

Cooler: Buy water bottles and ready to eat snacks. A large hard cooler can also become a chair.

First, organize the notebook, with a bright, gaudy, easy-to-find cover. I wrote any phone numbers I might need on the back of the notebook. One section of the notebook became to-do lists. Another section was for claim items. A third section was for prices for replacement items and rebuilding. A fourth section was to list items dumped during pack-out (explained below). As you sign papers and get receipts, you can quickly throw them into the bucket to organize later. Choose a bucket with the brightest, gaudiest lid you can find so you will spot it more quickly.

Fireproof cash box. At the end of each evening working on the claim, I moved receipts/valuable papers from the file box to the cash box.

Photocopier: If you don’t have a small one, find the fastest place you can make copies because you’ll be busy making lots of them.

Febreze in bulk: (If you have a fire) We found generic giant-size bottles of Febreze worked well. We used a lot of it and also dryer sheets in removing odors.

Getting to work on the claim: Learning to use certain computer programs is essential. I used Access and Excel and recreated our insurance company’s forms. The following features were the ones I used the most: filters, find, queries, sorts, and reports. Over two years, my database/spreadsheet probably saved me over 100 hours of time on our content claim. If I hadn’t used those programs, we wouldn’t have completed our claim so thoroughly and wouldn’t have recovered as many of our belongings. Our first claim was 60 pages long.

Our insurance company re-entered the claim into their system and resorted all items. If this happens to you, doublecheck items. Our company made minor mistakes on the original claim which, when tallied together, amounted to several hundred dollars in our favor.

Itemize, itemize, itemize: Mentally go through every room of your house. I took the notebook with the content subject area and wrote a room at the top of a page. Then I mentally went through that room and listed what was in it. Go through every cabinet, drawer, and closet. Count every extension cord, socket, etc. What was hiding on the top drawer of the guest closet? If you keep the file box with you, you can note things as you think of them. If you purchase items from a specialty shop, contact them and ask if they still have records of purchases. Stores gave us records of Thomas the Train toy purchases we made for our son along with duplicate receipts of custom framing jobs I had ordered.

In order to receive the difference between actual and replacement value, we had to purchase replacement items and submit receipts. I numbered receipts and kept photocopies in a folder.

The Rebuilding Steps

Our home wasn’t completely destroyed. The rebuilding happened in 3 steps.

Pack-out: House contents are sorted between those which are salvageable and those which must be dumped. A clean-up crew pulled belongings from the house and told me whether items went in their truck or to the dumpster. For items to go into the dumpster, I noted them in my notebook section and also took photographs of them in sets, in case I needed more reference later. For the photos, try to take pictures of brand labels, etc. Be as specific as possible. If a shelf held 10 cups, 8 plates, and 4 bowls, list them exactly like that. Brand names and age will help too.

During this pack-out stage, you will probably already have to begin to make purchasing decisions for the rebuilding phase. Four days after our fire, we chose replacement kitchen cabinets because we were told they would take the longest to arrive. As we shopped for items, we deliberately made choices which were not special order. At the same time, don’t rush too quickly. We lost all of the blinds in our home and happened to still know the people from whom we purchased the house. They confirmed the old blinds were custom made, and as a consequence, we replaced the blinds with new custom treatments. Get ready to make several choices quickly — in our case, our biggest choices included doors, blinds, paint colors & types, floors, light fixtures, ceiling tiles, faucets, sinks, cabinets, wallpaper, borders, furniture, window treatments, and appliances.

Demolition: After pack-out, areas that must be rebuilt are demolished.

Rebuilding: The demolished areas are rebuilt. Try to be present as much as possible during this step.

Return items caution: After rebuilding, items which were taken out to be cleaned/salvaged were returned. Pay close attention during this step. Some things which may have been taken to be cleaned may not return in the same condition in which they left. My son had 6-month-old bedroom furniture which returned with smoke stains. We were told if we let the movers carry items into our home, we were accepting their condition. Richard and I both went through all furniture and large items to check them and refused some items.

What Helped the Most

We were luckier than most because we were able to return to our home three months after it burned. Our crew was on the job almost every single day after the fire. We made it our business to be there, with them, as much as possible. The following are some things that helped us the most.

Help from friends: We couldn’t have survived without the help from friends. One friend, an engineer, went through our home after the fire to evaluate the condition of ceilings and walls which our contractor originally said didn’t need to be replaced. The engineer said a bedroom ceiling had been warped with water damage. A brother-in-law who is a gas lineman helped us push for safer replacement gas lines in our home. We argued both items, which were decided in our favor. When they demolished the ceiling of the bedroom in question, they discovered mold growing. We’re more than grateful we pushed for its destruction instead of going with their first opinion.

Hospitality: We chose to view the fire as an opportunity to welcome workers. Every day we had workers at our home, we provided a cooler of iced water bottles and soft drinks for them to drink. The workers appreciated the gesture. We wanted them to feel welcome and respected in our home. Our hospitality inspired them to work harder and help us find ways to rebuild our home better.

Witness: I collect crosses and crucifixes that are mounted throughout our home. During the fire, the walls behind those crosses didn’t have smoke stains. For weeks after the fire, every room had at least one light-colored cross on a wall. Almost every worker who came into our home commented at least once that we went to church, and we had some great conversations with them.

Negotiation: We didn’t rebuild to match exactly what we had had before. Rooms switched purposes, so when we returned we would think of the house as a new beginning. An old storage room was converted into a larger office for Richard. We added extra insulation wherever possible, upgraded light fixtures, and put new ceilings into part of our basement.

At the same time, we tried to remodel as simply as possible so we could return home faster. Our insurance company gave us some wiggle room. For example, our upstairs carpet was ruined and removed, and we discovered oak floors beneath them. We negotiated with insurance that instead of their replacing our upstairs flooring, Richard refinished our oak floors himself at our expense, and we purchased flooring for our basement on the insurance claim instead.

Replace Slowly: If your state insurance laws and insurance company will let you, replace non-essential items slowly. This time, you can buy exactly what you want. We used a card table and then a loaned kitchen table for over a year before we finally found the table we wanted. If the kids had had a preschool card game set, we replaced it with an older grade level set instead.

What to Do with Kids: Our kids were 5 and 7 when our home burned. We homeschool and had gotten two weeks into our school year when the fire began. Their schoolbooks, my husband’s business, and our clothes are all that we salvaged. The first weeks, when everything was most dangerous, friends kept the kids. After that, we tried to involve them as much as possible. We let both kids make the choices (within reason) for their new bedrooms. They learned several new vocabulary words: receipt, claim, toxic, demolition, and more. For two months, their formal school day began at 6:30AM and ended around 9:00AM so I could go to our home and monitor reconstruction.

The best thing both kids learned from the fire was to work quickly and efficiently. That skill is one they still have, four years later.

Don’t look back: You will make mistakes, lose things, and forget others. One mistake we made was miscommunicating paint colors. I asked about one color for our upstairs, and Richard thought I only wanted it for our bedroom instead of our entire first floor. (He happened to hate that shade of white but thought he could stand it in one room.)

Some losses will be harder than others. Richard’s hardest loss was his portfolio. He’s an artist who lost 30 years of artwork. During our pack-out, I grew numb and tired one morning and paid little attention to a metal box that was thrown into a dumpster. That night, I realized it was a keepsake box with every memento of a lost baby. Richard offered to dumpster dive until he found it, but I refused. His safety was more important than memories. We had to let the dead bury the dead and move forward. The next morning, as I arrived at the house with our kids, a driver was hauling the loaded dumpster to our landfill.

Have fun: Somehow, some way, find ways to add humor or fun to a difficult process. After that dumpster was removed, another one replaced it. While it was still empty, before our work crew arrived, the kids and I made a target practice game inside the fifteen-foot dumpster. We found some plastic items ready to be tossed. The three of us went into the empty dumpster and threw them — 10 points for the back wall and 5 points for the sides. It helped vent all our frustration and defuse a rough morning for me.

We have a large fenced backyard, and the kids enjoyed playing outside a lot during reconstruction.

Life continues: It’s four years later now. The closets are full again, and you could never tell there was a fire. The kids rarely speak of the minor disaster that consumed our lives for almost two years. It’s still a watershed, and we measure time in terms of “before the fire” and “after the fire.”

We thank God for the many friends who prayed, helped, and carried us through the storm of trouble so we could rebuild our home and begin again.


Along Came a Spider – Real Time Problem Solving

Case study in how real people solve real problems faster via social media.

One week ago, I attended the Social Media Club of Evansville monthly meeting, where Robby Slaughter of BlogIndiana spoke about building business productivity with social media.  I met a new mom there, Talina, and we began to follow each other on Twitter.

Through Twitter, we learned of common ground as coffee lovers.  Then we learned we both blog, enjoy Excel, and try to be environmentally friendly parents.  She has a baby, and my kids are now teens. We commented on each other’s blogs and became friends via Facebook.

Last night, I saw her tweet she was trying to figure out what kind of spider she found in her house.  I asked her to post the picture on Facebook.  She posted it, and then I shared the photo, asking my friends who are pest control experts to ID the spider.  Within an hour, two competing local pest experts ID’d the spider.

Not only did they ID the spider – they had a civil conversation about spiders in general. By this morning, a 3rd pest pro had posted.  Among the 3 of them, they had ID’d the spider, discussed where it was usually found, assured us it was not poisonous, and given a quick way to get rid of the spider.

What did I learn on Facebook today? This varied color orb spider is large – they are usually this big in the fall.  It is an outdoor spider, usually found in soffets and on porches, spinning large webs by which it catches other insects.  Sometimes they eat so much when they fall to the ground, they are so full they “burst” on impact.

Oh – & what did I learn about social media? Last week, Robby Slaughter asked for a good definition of social media.  I said it’s a tool by which real people build and enhance relationships in the real world. 

Along came a spider and sat down beside her and proved the point.

This could be a case study in how companies on Twitter can be first responders to potential customers. 

But that is another blog altogether…


Caveman Skool

Caveman Skool was the ultimate place for ambitious cavemen.  Their graduates were heavy lifters and great hunters.  As word spread from fire to fire, they expanded to two classes.

One day, something new rolled towards the school fire: a wheel.

Alpha class cavemen had a new toy! They rolled it between each other.  One smashed rocks with it.  They raced it.  Instead of listening in Grunting While Lifting, they painted their wheel.  

Alpha Class Teacher roared and banged his stick: “No more wheels in my class! Back to basics!” He rolled the wheel down the hill and demand his students listen to him.  They did, except when his back was turned and they had farting contests.  Followed by burping contests.  But they were heavy lifters.

Beta class cavemen got a new toy too.  After they played with it awhile, Beta Class teacher looked at what captured the class attention.  He played with it.  Then he asked the class: “How can we use this? What happens if we take 2 wheels and put a stick between them?”

As the students played, they built the first cart.  Their Grunting While Lifting class became the first Mechanical Design class – how to design the best wheeled cart to do the heavy lifting while you push.  Students got more excited, worked together, and honed their design.  Alpha students watched them in between their grunting contests.

After graduation, the Alpha class could lift heavier weights.  But the Beta graduates got all the business because they used wheeled carts.  In time, the Alpha cavemen went to work for those Beta grads who played in class with that wheel.  In their time off, Alpha cavemen still had their farting, grunting, and burping contests.

In the Beta grads’ time off, they still kept playing with that distracting wheel.  They invented better carts, then levers, then pulleys, and changed the world.

If you’re a teacher today, how do you use laptops, the Internet, and Social Media?

Are they a distraction, or are they a tool by which your students are preparing to harness new opportunities in our Information Revolution?

Are you training them to be lifters or thinkers? Or both?


Fast Times in Tornado Alley

(Written 7 years ago)

My son, only 3 at the time, peered out the storm door as dark clouds approached.  Welcome to springtime in Tornado Alley. 

I had just cleaned the door. “Don’t think about getting your fingerprints on that door,” I told him.

He looked at me, grinned, and turned, putting both hands flat on the storm door.  The moment he touched it, it happened.

The storm sirens blew, and thunder boomed. 

Nick jerked his hands back and ran straight to my lap.  A spring thunderstorm began.  The boy didn’t move for half an hour.

He never touched the storm door again. 

We’ve seen strong storms but have never been devastated by them personally.  However, five years ago, our home was damaged by a fire.  The kids lost their toys.

Last November, a tornado devastated our town.  When we drive through the areas where the tornado hit, the kids see the path of destruction.   They remember how hard it was for us to rebuild; the fire was their watershed; their lives are measured in B.F. (before fire) and A.F. (after fire) time. 

The disaster was a reality check to heed those warning sirens.

When I hear them scream in the dark of night, I no longer roll over, listen for the wind, and go back to sleep.  I turn on the news to learn the cause of the siren.

Last week, we made our way to our basement during a tornado warning.  Once we got down the stairs, I noticed what our kids grabbed.  Our daughter had her cat.   Nick grabbed two of his stuffed animals.  He sat with his storm supplies and a toy light saber. 

Nick said, “I’ve got my light,” as he swung his battery-operated light saber.  Then he pointed, “And I’ve got my bank [his piggy bank] and my Bible.  I’m ready for anything.”

In six years, he’s grown from the young toddler who thought his handprints made the sirens scream and the skies to storm into a boy planning to handle problems. 

For a moment, I saw the brave heart of  a Peter or Edmund from Narnia, ready to fight and provide for those he loves.  

Do you face Fast Times in Tornado Alley?  Take heart – the things we view as fast times are the pruning of a Master Gardener caring for His vineyard.  Grab your weapons, and you too will be ready for anything.

Epilogue update: Now he’s gone through weather spotter training and watches Doppler when storms happen.


Good Night Moon

Over a decade ago, I cuddled with my babies each night as we read Good Night Moon.  My kids “read” each page aloud with me.  When we finished, the lights would go off, and I would hear their trying to sneak a few last games in before going to sleep.

In this time just before they are legal drivers, my life is now measured in tag team pickups and carpools.  I’ve not yet mastered bilocation so I can pick 2 kids up in 2 different places at the same time.  Thank God I have a great husband who helps as much as he can.

Yesterday, my son had a robotics contest at a local university while my daughter was going to a formal.  Brand new experience – her escort picked her up at our house and drove her there.  We had never before allowed our kids to ride with a teen driver anywhere.  Yes, he’s a good guy and a good driver.  But this was my baby.

Richard took our son to the robotics contest, and I stayed to see our daughter off to her formal and take “those” pictures – the dressed up teen couple ones.  As soon as she left, I raced to see the robotics conclusion.

After we got home, it began to rain.  I controlled my urge to call her cell phone and tell her we would pick her up there.  I controlled my urge to call and see how she was doing.  Yes, he was a good driver.  But it was a dark, rainy Friday night.

So I sat, waiting for her to get home.  I chatted with another mom on Facebook as she waited too.  Please God keep my baby safe and send angels to clear that road as she comes home.  They warned us about 2:00 feedings with a baby, but I don’t hear much about staying up for curfews.

She got home fine.  The confident lady who left in the jewel blue formal with sparkles had sparkles in her eyes as she told us what a wonderful time she had.  Then she went to her room, to do her thing and listen to music I don’t understand.

I sat alone for a moment in front of my computer, thinking.

Good night moon.  Good night nobody.  Good night mush. And the old lady, whispering hush.

Now, I’m the old lady.


Is Your Social Media Network Disaster Ready?

My grandparents survived the worst tornado in American history on March 18, 1925, when a mile-wide tornado ripped a 219 mile path of destruction across the Midwest, killing 695 people and destroying 15,000 homes.  It took days to learn who had lived or died.

When an F3 tornado struck Evansville on Sunday, November 6, 2005, killing 25 people, I thought of “The Tornado.”  Thank God we had cell phones and Internet access.

Evansville immediately responded.  Brad Gair of FEMA commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a community of people come out so quickly to help each other. All communities come together after a disaster, but this one is exceptional.”  

Every church and group sought ways to help. More people wanted to help than there were means for them to do so.

I was part of a homeschool network with an email list of over 200 families in 3 states.  A Yahoo group was our social network of choice; 5 years ago, grownups avoided Facebook.

For 2 weeks, our community turned its email list into Info Central.  Each of our families connected with its own network of faith and family, and we could share information quickly.  One mom was asked one evening to prep 500 sack lunches for relief workers.  Within 2 hours, we had a church kitchen and called for volunteers/donations.  The next morning, food poured in along with volunteers.  We prepped and packed 500 lunches for the Red Cross by 10 a.m.

With our network, we got information before it hit the news.  A dad told us who to call to get listed as a volunteer.  Once areas opened, we used our list to post requests for basic needs.  If someone heard of an elderly couple with a front  yard full of trees to be cleared, we posted it, and someone helped.  I think every call for help we heard was met.

What we did by email in 2005 was an early form of what Twitter and Facebook do today.  In future disasters, I foresee mobile stations arriving to help people charge smartphones and provide emergency wi-fi access for victims.

Facebook can be more than Farmville.  It is a vital link in disaster preparedness.  

Is your social network ready for the next disaster?

(Tornado photo courtesy of Stock Xchng.)

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Churches: What’s Your Social Media Footprint?

Last month, Nibby Priest wrote, Are You an Evangelist for Your Community?  

Take that a step further – Are You a Social Media Evangelist for Your Church?  How does your church make use of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, blogs, and Foursquare to reach out to its congregation and beyond?

How does a church approach with new evangelization?

Reserve your name: Even if you don’t plan to use them now, go to social media sites and reserve your name before someone else does.   You can use them later.

Listen first: Listen to your community and people’s concerns.  How can you best be a beacon of light to the hurting?  St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary.”  Listening and helping people works better on social media than standing on a corner posting Bible verses constantly. Don’t proselytize as people will unfriend and unfollow you.

Be generous: Promote and encourage good people in your area.  Share opportunities and ways to help the poor and serve your community.

Be real: Who you are Sunday morning should not contradict who you are Saturday night on the town or Wednesday morning in the office.  Neither should photos or videos.

Where do you get started? 

If you do social media well, it will boost your search engine optimization and make your church’s website appear higher on Google rankings.

Facebook – begin with a Fan Page.  Fan pages work best for public groups to reach others and share information quickly.  Groups work best for private groups where you select and restrict members.

Twitter – we need more Twittering pastors who can be funny, engage in conversation, and lift people’s spirits. Writing in 140 characters or less makes writing more concise.

Youtube – start a video blog with a simple message and talented musicians in your church.  Keep it short.

Blogs – post blogs of no more than 450 words to encourage people.

Foursquare – make sure your church’s location is listed on Foursquare.  Someone can post a tip of when services are held.  Members who are comfortable doing so can “check in” when they are there, and your church’s location with a map will show on anyone using Foursquare in your area.  Visitors who search Foursquare will see your church and see that it is a congregation with active, welcoming members.

Real life relationships begin and can be made stronger with social media.

For centuries, missionaries ventured to foreign lands and mastered new languages to evangelize.  That is still important.

We have a new way to share.

In the beginning was the Word.  Now the Word can be tweeted, blogged, and YouTubed. 

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Chicken Little and Golgotha

Rooster in grass.
Image via Wikipedia

Pullus Parvus, otherwise known as Chicken Little, lived in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.  He was the best of all possible organizers, the top cluck, and he knew it.  When he crowed early each morning, all the other chickens in that tiny Roman province followed his lead.

One morning as he crowed, the people were shouting so loudly he had to crow twice as loud and long to signal all the other chickens that it was time to begin.  Strange – a crying man ran past him a little later.

Then the sky over the whole land suddenly grew dark. 

Chicken Little panicked and thought, “The sky is falling.  I will stop it.”

So he crowed and he clucked and he asked all his friends to crow and cluck with him.  If they made enough racket, the sun would return.

It stayed dark.  The earth began to shake and tremble.

Chicken Little panicked and thought, “The ground is going to split in half.  I will stop it.”

So he crowed and he clucked and called all his friends to join him.  As the earth trembled, they scratched and scritched, trying to hold the ground together, but they couldn’t stop it.  Chicken Little called out, “God, give me the power of Samson to stop this so I can hold our world together!”

It was still dark when a young chick squawked to Chicken Little and told him the curtain in the temple was tearing in half.

“I can’t allow that to happen,” said Chicken Little.  He sent word to his friends the sparrows to go to the temple and hold the temple curtain together with their beaks.  They failed.

Chicken Little was flat terrified.  He couldn’t make the sun return, he couldn’t stop the earth from shaking, and his instructions to the sparrows had failed.  He was out of control.

So Chicken Little fled the town of Jerusalem for the hills.  He hid on a hill, behind a bush, afraid of what would happen next.  He didn’t crow, for he was ashamed.

Three days later, he got scared again.  There was a huge rumble and a great light.  This time, he didn’t try to stop the rumble or return the sky to its normal color.  When the light became normal, Chicken Little decided the sky could not have fallen.  The sun was back.

He picked and clucked his way out behind the bush and saw Roman soldiers fallen to the ground. A tombstone had rolled from a tomb, and Chicken Little went inside.  He saw an angel sitting there and asked the angel,

“God made me to crow and keep all the birds of Jerusalem together. 

“But the sky turned dark and was going to fall.  I tried to stop it and failed.

“The ground shook and was going to split.  I tried to stop it with my friends, and we all failed.

“The curtain in the temple tore in half.  I tried to fix it by telling the sparrows what to do, and they failed.

“How can I ever believe in myself again?  How can I feel safe?

“This morning, the sun turned bright, and there was this rumble, and I did nothing because I was afraid.

“The sun is back in the sky, the sky did not fall, and the ground did not split.

“But I will never believe in my abilities again.  I am mad at God too – why didn’t He help me?”

The angel looked at the poor bird and told him, “Oh ye of little brain.  When the sky turned dark, God was with you.  When the earth shook, He was there too.  This morning when you saw that light and heard the rumble, it was the Son – not the sun.  He rose from the dead to save all mankind.

“This is a day for the birds to sing.  One day, at the end of the age, the sky will seem to fall.  Nothing anyone or anything does will change that.  We cannot worry about it now.  The Son, the Savior, just won the greatest battle of all time.

“Go, find your friends, and tell them to sing, cluck, and quack in honor of the King of Kings.”

Chicken Little scooted out of the tomb just as he heard feet running .  He summoned all the birds of Jerusalem to sing a new song and rejoice, for the Son of Man had saved the world – not Chicken Little.

After that day, Chicken Little still crowed every morning to summon all the other birds to the start of another day.  But when he crowed, he didn’t crow of his own power, or in pride of what he could do.

He crowed in honor of God.  He could use his talents to proclaim God’s glory but could not use them to play God.  And now Chicken Little knew the difference.

Christ taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  Sometimes when we try to stop the sky from falling and earth from shaking, we don’t know the big picture and don’t realize the hand of God is already there. 

When it happens, ask Him for guidance.  He will guide you as the Holy Spirit brings you peace.  As Jesus told the leader of the synagogue in Matthew 5:36, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

Happy Easter.

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