Tag Archive - Mary Biever

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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A Castle’s On the Kitchen Table

P. Sherman. 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney
Image by M. Angel Herrero via Flickr

A model castle’s on the kitchen table and the fish tank’s in the sink.

Sometimes I get so busy, dear, I’ve forgotten how to think!

 The kids are in the backyard making spears from dead tree limbs,

The garden’s not near planted but the baby sings a hymn.

We’ve lost our pens and pencils and the school year’s near the end,

Derby cars swing on my clothesline; neighbors swear I’ve past the bend.

Told my kids the other day, the library’s not made for roller skates,

The laundry’s piled, the kids are wild - No shoes can find their mates.

Sometimes I get so busy, dear, I’ve forgotten how to think!

That’s when it’s time to measure the moments that pass before we blink.

Then the plates will set the table, no stacks will pile the sink,

I fear I’ll get so lonely, dear, I’ll forget how to think!

These days are few and fleeting – Treasure each and every day,

Whether trials or laughter – Drop extra stuff for time with kids to play.

Give me a castle on a kitchen table and a fish tank in the sink,

And a heartful of children’s memories, more precious than gold or mink.

(Written a few years ago – now the kitchen table gets filled with laptops, and I miss the castles.)

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If My Grandma Had Had Facebook

Grandma’s four-room house in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains looked small outside but was huge inside.  Born into a fighting Scot-Irish farm family who plowed fields by day as they argued Shakespeare and the Bible by candlelight, Grandma fought daily battles.  A survivor of polio and rheumatic fever, Grandma walked with the aid of a walker more by will than ability.  

Her oldest sister taught her in a one-room log schoolhouse with 60 students, and Grandma was the only one of her sisters not to attend college.  She couldn’t manage the steps into the buildings and stayed home.  The only times I ever knew Grandma to leave her own home were when she went to the doctor and sometimes when she visited us.  Getting her in and out of the car, and up and down stairs, was a whole family effort.  Those were the days before scooters, ramps, and the Americans with Disability Act.

The walls of Grandma’s house contained neither her heart nor her mind.  The sharpest of her sisters, Grandma devoured books and newspapers.  She could debate theological points as well as public policy but preferred arguing with her sister about whether cranberry salad should have lemon or mixed fruit Jell-o.  Though Grandma couldn’t leave home, everyone around her knew of her baking.  Bake sale organizers asked her to make pies and cakes because whatever she made was the first sold.  Those who were homeless and hungry also knew where Grandma lived because she fed anyone who knocked on her door.

Grandma was also known for her sharp temper, wicked tongue, and crack shot.  Once in her 70’s, she was alone in her home as my grandfather hauled produce on a long distance truck route.  When Grandma heard an intruder, she balanced her shotgun on her walker, turned on the porch lights, aimed, and yelled, “Take one step closer and I’ll blow your balls off.”  The intruder left intact. 

I never knew until her funeral how many lives she touched.  People I didn’t know thanked me because Grandma had tutored them so they could pass high school or their GED.  The lady who could barely walk and only graduated from 8th grade, gave other mountain families the tools they needed for a modern world.

How I wish Grandma had had social media so we could have skyped.  She would have devoured Twitter conversations and turned the world on its end with her biting wit.  Maybe I would have mastered her flaky pie crusts through a Youtube demo.  

In my Dickensian childhood, I could always count on Grandma to stand in my corner.  She was and is a huge influence on who I am today.  Had she had social media, then more of the world would have known this incredible woman who shared her heart and her mind with her family.  The Internet would have torn down the walls of her home and the restrictions of her disabilities.

Maybe you do get to know her.  Sometimes when I write, I can almost feel her standing in a cloud, cheering me on to keep going. 

Thanks, Grandma.

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