Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Student’

Using Facebook For Good

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve hesitated to write on this subject for over 3 years now.  It is a sensitive issue – but as I always want to be an encourager and my purpose is to build up – here goes.

Is Facebook bad?  Can Facebook be evil?  I hear almost everyday – someone, somewhere telling me that they will never join Facebook because of what they’ve heard.  Or another person will write on a status update that they need to “fast” Facebook because they feel convicted as it can be time-consuming and maybe even tempt them in unhealthy ways and relationships.  Some pastors even believe that they should get their church members off Facebook.  That feels very discouraging to me.  Especially when I read about it in a person’s status update.  It is better to be encouraging and positive.  I love to read what other pastors and leaders say on the subject.  Those that use it for good.  They say that Facebook is not evil – people have sometimes misused it and made it that way.  But it is also a great tool for connecting with people.  This is so true.

I have been saddened by some status updates.  Status updates that say someone is taking a fast or going away altogether – leaving the impression by those of us still using social networking – that we have missed the boat – are wasting time or something worse.  It is these same people who feel convicted and then try to “convict” everyone else on connecting with people.  And while sometimes past connections can be unhealthy – or at least not the best, Facebook should not be blamed.

As long as we have had people – there has always been a tendency to wander and step outside the boundaries.  Affairs with people from the past happened as far back as the Bible days and before.  If you have the desire to go outside your marriage – you don’t need Facebook to do that.

I love Facebook.  It has allowed me to connect with people from our past ministry life and those I thought we would never see again – and be a very real part of their lives again.  It’s a miracle.  I also love seeing pictures and updates on students of mine past and present – and our wonderful family and close friends.

The problem comes when we listen to negative propaganda that claims that Facebook is the number one reason that marriages fail.  It is not because of Facebook, people.  It’s because people are flawed human beings.  If you are looking for that sort of thing – you can find it and not just on social networking.  Facebook is simply a tool.  It’s neutral.  Neither positive or negative.  If you want to message someone and have private conversations you can do this on Facebook – just like you can also do that on email or by regular mail, texting and cell phone calls.  Like any other resource and tool – it needs to be used wisely – not blamed when you or others mess up.

I believe Facebook can and should be used for good.  You can be an encourager.  You can be that positive role model – spreading around joy and hope for others.  You can use humor as a great way of relieving stress in everyday life.  And you can share pictures and updates in a way that build up – not tear down.  But most of all – you can stay connected to those that are a real part of your life.

Now I know what some of you are going to say.  “There’s so much drama and negative stuff on Facebook now – and what about those political opinions from those VERY VOCAL and opinionated!”  And ALL THOSE GAME REQUESTS!!!!  Here is what I do.  I don’t get involved in politics on Facebook.  You can’t win.  If I feel that someone is being too vocal on certain subjects and I’m uncomfortable – I just go to the home page and click the “x” on the right side of the comment.  This gives me the option of seeing any more comments from them.  It has cleaned up many things on my home page – so I simply don’t see the negative, inappropriate and the unnecessary.  I block any game request I don’t want or remove the app altogether.  I also clean up my friend list once in a while too – I simply don’t connect with everyone on my list and so I remove them.  When that is not an option – the “hiding” of their comments is better for me.

Here’s another thing I’ve done lately.  I’ve put the ones I talk to and connect with most often in a “list” called “close friends”.  I have another one for “Current students”  “Church friends” “Family” etc.  Instead of having my regular “News Feed” on my home page – I just pull up the list that I want and write a status update so that those people on my list are the only ones who see what I write.  This works great for me getting messages to my students without having to write a private message.  I also only “friend” people that I know.  This is a HUGE bonus.  If someone requests me that I don’t – I will not friend them unless it is a friend of a student or a friend of a friend.  If people from my past make me uncomfortable and try to friend me – I just don’t accept.  There’s no fear here – I am in control of who I talk to and let into my world.

Another blessing has been the ability to promote my music studio by having a “fan page” just for that purpose.  I show photos and videos of past recitals and the students who are involved with taking music lessons.  It is a great link to my actual website – since so many people are now on Facebook.

If you’re reading this and have done some of the status updates that I’ve mentioned above – those that would try to “convict” and “moralize” something that you feel strongly about – here’s what you could do next time.  Simply disconnect with others that are making you feel this way, unfriend those that need to be unfriended and if you are really having trouble with being disciplined with your time you spend – instead of making a statement about that – just walk away for a while.  You don’t need to tell anyone – or find excuses for why you’re leaving – because you are going to find that most people on Facebook really love what they’re doing – and the people who they’re connected with.  And making people feel bad should never be a conscious decision.   Being positive and allowing others to be who they are – is always a better choice.  

I’m hoping you will join me in using something so wonderful – a vehicle for staying connected with others – for good.

 

God Bless

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Yes I Really Do Have 700 Friends On Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

The other day I attempted to “cut my friend list” on facebook.  You know how it goes – you have an account for a while, and pretty soon people just start “appearing” on your friend list until you have near 1000 people!  This happened to me a few years ago.  I heard the snickers and taunts from my other facebook friends, “no one has 100o friends!” and set out to cut it back and only have people there I actually knew in person and had a connection with.

That was 2 or 3 years ago.  Then over time it crept up again as I slowly added those that were “late adopters” in joining the social media world.  Students, former students and people I had a relationship with on some level all came on board and asked to “friend” me.  Usually I did – because I knew them, or a friend knew them.

And like you, I have also been forced to eliminate some who I don’t need to be seeing every little thing they do, have contact with – or who for some reason have made me feel uncomfortable by status updates, pictures and comments.  And some people I do not feel comfortable with them seeing every little thing about me either.  But luckily this number is very small.

The other day I noticed my numbers were climbing up there again.  “NO ONE has 800 or 1000 close friends”, I said to myself.  I went through my list of “friends” and started eliminating based on whether or not I ever had a conversation with them.  As I was cutting back my list – I noticed something.  Most of these people are students, former students, past ministry life, or current friendships and church connections.  And because I love being connected with those I have had a part in the investing process – I don’t want to cut it loose.  Students grow up, get jobs, get married and have children – how much I would miss if I didn’t have them on facebook.

I guess the bottom line is this:

Yes I REALLY DO have 700 friends in my life.  I would not have known that until I went to look at them closely, individually, one by one.  Each face is a reminder of an event in both our lives that made that special connection.  Some are people I know only through the blogging community and many of them I have been able to talk with on Skype, although I have not met them in person.  They are daily contributors to my world of writing – and we have a common faith in Jesus Christ.

For those of you who are not aware who is on your friend list – I encourage you to do the same thing.  Look at your list and for each person you keep, remember why they are in your life and what brought you to this point in time.

I love making new friends – but mostly the people who I remain in contact with are the relationships that have stood the test of time and have meaning in my life today.

I am thankful for facebook.  It has allowed me to stay in touch and be a part of those I love as we share pictures, love and laughter together, encouraging and praying for each other – it helps to fill in those times when we can’t be together in person 🙂

As a teacher – facebook has been a great tool for keeping students and parents informed.  I have a page for my music studio as well as one for my blog.  These have both been great tools of communication!

And I’m a sucker for former and current students “dropping by” my page and saying “hello” to me 🙂

How many “friends” do you have on facebook?

God Bless

Doing The Right Thing

Study of a girl with ringlets teaching her dog...

Image by State Library of New South Wales collection via Flickr

Doing the right thing – does not necessarily mean that it will always be the popular choice. Or does it mean that others in your life will agree with you.

Several years ago I had a situation which challenged my personal convictions and integrity.  I had a problem with a student at the private school where I was teaching.  She was belligerent to my authority and although all of the teachers in the class treated her with respect – but were firm on expectations – she did not reciprocate the respect.  I called her out on it – in a private way, telling her it was not appropriate behavior in the classroom.  Instead of responding correctly – she went home ‘telling tales’ how this mean music teacher had it in for her.

What came next was a most distressing email written to me from her mother.  I was painted as the villain – and she the victim. I reported the email to my boss – the administrator of the school where I was teaching.  His advice was to not do anything – be silent and NOT answer back at all.  And that he would handle it.

What came next was much soul-searching – as I tried to come to grips with the accusations in the letter against my character and integrity as a teacher.  I wrestled with it for a couple of days.  I remember well – my son was in a baseball tournament out-of-town that weekend – and I would sit in the car until the game started, praying and trying to figure out what to do.

In the end, I DID write back – and realized I was going in direct contrast and against the ‘authority’ set in place over me regarding this matter.  I examined the consequences of such an action – talked it over with my husband and good friend/team teacher also in the classroom – and decided to answer the accusations myself rather than just be ‘silent’.  To me this seemed the best course of action – as it directly affected me and my reputation as a teacher. I did not want a third-party interference in the matter.  Those never work.  And in fact, from personal experience I can say this:  They do much more harm than good. So with this in mind – I wrote a reply.

I was kind – but I was firm.  I told the other side of the story, the belligerence and the struggle that this girl had with authority in the classroom.  It was detailed and cited many examples which could be verified by the other teachers and students.

I sent it.  And I waited.  I knew that there could be two very different outcomes to my ’email’ – and knew I could really take a serious reprimand for my actions.  Two days later I received another email from the mother.  This one was very different from the first.  She was apologetic and felt very badly for saying the things she had said without checking the facts.  When she confronted her daughter with my letter – the girl broke down and admitted the lies she had told.  Had I not written the letter – the meeting to be held later that week between the father and the administrator of the school would have been very heated.  He would not have had all the facts.  My reply completely diffused the anger that they had and my email conveyed the situation and set the record straight.  Long story short:  we ended up being friends.  That in itself was a miracle.  And this would not have happened if I had allowed others to speak for me.  My silence could have been seen as guilt.

Why do I tell you this story?  Because there have been more of these ‘situations’ in my life before and since then.  Some have had a great outcome like this one – others have not.  It is ALWAYS better to work things out with the other person alone – than to involve a third person in the equation – and allow them to speak for you.

Sometimes you have to step out and do what is right – even in the midst of people telling you not to.  Even people who are in authority over you.  Even when you trust them and believe them.  Am I saying to go against authority?  If it doesn’t line up with what is right – then yes.  Even if you are told that it is right but you still have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right about what they are telling you.  And sometimes you must act according to your own personal convictions – even risking a ‘falling out’ with someone important to you – like a good friend or a family member.

In the final analysis – God is the only one you have to report to on anything. And at the end of the day – He goes much easier on us than most people do – even those people in positions of authority.  His grace and mercy are new every morning.  He loves and forgives in a way that human beings are not capable of doing.  He doesn’t hold a grudge – nor does He remember our sins anymore to use against us.  He is not sensitive – and you cannot hurt His feelings – in the same way you can hurt another human being.   He has no ‘agenda’ for you in the same way that others may have for you.  He does not have any pride on the line and does not insist on His way.  You need only seek His council to determine what the right thing is.  God ALWAYS wants relationships to be healed – He is a God of resolution, restoration and of healing.  If what you are being told does not lead in this direction – it is not from God.

I have learned this the hard way – and I’m still waiting for others in my life to get it too.

When our life is over – we will have to stand before God.  We will have no one to hide behind – no one to ‘cover us’ except Jesus.  And I believe when everything is stripped bare from our lives – God will allow us to see our lives and those ‘key moments’ in them – pointing to the obvious times where we had a choice to do the right thing.  No excuses.  No hiding.  No blaming.  It will come down to just us and God.  And when I stand before Him and He asks these questions:  ‘Did you do everything in your power to restore lost people to Christ?  Did you do everything in your power to restore those that had something against you?  Did you love them like I love them?’  I want to be able to answer – ‘Yes’ to all three.

I want to be found with an open heart.  One that followed my personal convictions – sometimes risking popularity and personal regard from key people in my life – to follow what was the right thing to do.  I want Him to find me with no regrets, no secrets, no agenda – for it will all be revealed in that moment.  Whether I did what was right – or whether I settled for the easier road.

I want to encourage you today.  Are you looking for ways to restore relationships in your life?  If you are – then your heart is following after the very heart of God.  Follow your convictions. Don’t allow others to tell you what they are. Don’t allow others – even well-meaning influences in your life – to tell you what is right for you.  Maybe you need to speak up.  Maybe you need to be silent.  Whatever it is – do the right thing.  Do it today.

God Bless

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