Get in Shape Spiritually: Go to the Spa Instead of the Gym {Sharla Fritz}

Please welcome Sharla Fritz to the blog… a woman who wants to invite you for a spa day :)

Come, Let's Hit the Spa. Your weary soul needs it more than the gym.

After church one Sunday, a member of our congregation jokingly announced that our services would be much shorter if he gave the sermon. He would edit the message down to a few key words:

“Listen up people—do good stuff.”

If he wasn’t joking, I think he may have missed the point. Yet, at the same time I think many of us view the Christian life as a life of doing. I know I did. Even though I received the gift of God’s grace, I still had the feeling that I had to do more in order to please God. To grow spiritually, I needed to put in the time. Ramp up the effot.

I think this was because I viewed Christian life as a gym. Subconsciously I felt a certain repetition of prayers or a prescribed number of memorized Bible verses would automatically make me a stronger Christian. After all, daily doing a few dozen reps of bicep curls inevitably results in stronger arms.

But lately I’ve been thinking that Christian spirituality isn’t actually like going to a gym. It’s much more like going to a spa. At the gym you work. You run. You lift weights. You sweat.

But at a spa everything is done for you. Experts rub the kinks out of your aching back. They soften your rough skin and make your calloused feet look pretty again. All you need to is show up. You don’t have to drag out your determination and willpower to perform your workout routine. Instead you need to loosen your resistance and ambition for a time and simply receive.

Of course, Bible memorization and prayer and service are all good things—things God instructs us to do. But as I’ve gone a little further in the journey of faith I realize that it isn’t my effort that makes me a stronger Christian—because all of Christian life is a life of reception. No matter how many minutes I spend in prayer or how many chapters of the Bible I read, I cannot make myself more spiritual. It’s God’s Spirit who works out the kinks in my faith. He softens my heart and makes my spirit beautiful again. All I have to do is show up.

It’s the difference between pulling on my resolve to catch up in my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan and sitting down with God’s Word, simply asking Him to give me what I need to make it through the day. It’s the difference between checking off “Daily Devotions” on my to-do list and actually connecting with the God of the universe.

Our Christian growth doesn’t depend on us, but we do need to show up. We need to carve out time in our busy, noisy lives to receive the comfort and love God is continually holding out to us. We need to excavate space in our crowded hearts to receive the grace we so desperately need.

Christian spirituality is a not a life of doing. It is a life a receiving. Receiving from the persistent, compassionate, and tender God who calls Himself my Father.

Sharla FritzSharla Fritz is the author of Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal women find rest for a weary heart. The book explores 28 different holy habits that enable you to intimately connect with the Savior—the Healer of hearts. Within in the pages you will discover a soul care plan that will help you keep your life in balance. 
Sharla is also a Christian speaker who weaves honest and humorous stories into life-changing Bible study. She is passionate about helping women take their next step of faith. Find out more about Sharla on her website: www.sharlafritz.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter (@SharlaFritz). Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal is available at CPH.org and Amazon.

Pick of the Clicks 7/17/2015

This is the last Pick of the Clicks for a month – so savor these and read a couple a week : all great reads!! Enjoy 😉

PICK OF THE CLICKS JOY rainbow

I have a post up at SheLoves today: Take Time to Train.

Dorcas Cheng Tozun’s reflection on how her grief over her Father’s death nearly led her to suicide herself, and what happened after that, is a give-me-goosebumps read: Substance and Empty Space.

This was a fascinating story: The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogota (by Susan Dominus): a tale of two sets of identical twins, switched at birth and raised as two sets of fraternal twins, and how they found each other…

Oh wow: I wish I’d read this before I had my kids… Many Moms May Have Been Taught to Breastfeed Incorrectly: Surprising New Research (by Sarah Sites). One of the first things I realized when I started breastfeeding was that I’d never seen it done before, which surely put me and other first time moms at a huge disadvantage. But then, reading about breast crawl (and of course, I watched half a dozen youtube videos to confirm it all), and I was a believer….

Christine Organ’s article Mommy, the martyr: How the over glorification of motherhood hurts us all is an excellent and worthwhile read for all moms, and all those in relationship with new moms.

Carolyn Custis James has just released a new book—Malestrom—and this essay on The Rise of Women and the Manhood Crisis gives an excellent glimpse into why she’s a voice to be listened to on these topics.

I can’t help but nod and agree with Celeste Brinson’s essay A Plea for Boyhood and Rough Play. My boys are now 3 and 5, and more and more I’m realizing they just need to wrestle, sometimes. 

I’m always alert to this issue, so of course I couldn’t help noticing Jane Brody’s Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children. sigh.

A conversation with a friend who is considering buying her first home reminded me of this excellent resource: the New York Times calculator on whether it is better to rent or buy. You plug in the numbers of how much you’re paying in rent, how much an equivalent house costs, what the various lending percentages and costs are, and it spits out a calculation on how long it will take you to take to buy, and whether it’s better to buy/rent in your situation. When we bought our home, this was the #1 tool we used to try and figure out what the various costs and factors were to consider, and which were the more savvy options. THIS IS ONE TO BOOKMARK FOREVER.

I’ve linked to Tyler Vigen’s excellent website before: my favorite, hilarious, and SO BRILLIANT sit in which he maps out genius spurious correlations. For example, this one:

chart

Causation is NOT THE SAME as correlation, folks. Check out his site for more awesomeness.

 

This article—Who Has the Right to a Dignified Death—on euthanasia laws in Belgium, is a fascinating read. An excerpt:

The laws seem to have created a new conception of suicide as a medical treatment, stripped of its tragic dimensions. Patrick Wyffels, a Belgian family doctor, told me that the process of performing euthanasia, which he does eight to ten times a year, is “very magical.” But he sometimes worries about how his own values might influence a patient’s decision to die or to live.

On the blog this week: A review of Natalie Eastman’s book Women, Leadership and the Bible, a link to a video in which I talk about interpreting the bible and a GIVEAWAY of the book. Don’t miss this one.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

 

 

Women, Leadership & The Bible

Confession: When I heard that a book called “Women, Leadership and The Bible” had been released, my first thought was “just what we need… ANOTHER pushy book on women in the church.”

41EyH70ZyYL._AA160_But this is not that book, and in fact, the more I’ve read and the better I’ve got to know Dr Natalie Eastman—the author—the more excited I have been about it. Women, Leadership and The Bible is not a book that tells you WHAT to think, it’s a guide to HOW to work through the questions (and even identify the questions!), and to find answers in scripture yourself. The subtitle of the book is truthful: “How do I know what I believe? A Practical Guide to Biblical Interpretation.”

I believe every Christian woman should be able to handle the scriptures FOR HERSELF. Natalie Eastman is passionate about women being better equipped to ask better questions, to find better answers, to know what you believe and how you got there… and in this book she’s created a fantastic go-to resource which is thoughtful and thorough in approaching questions about women in scripture, but in fact questions about anything in scripture.

Eastman is so committed to women having the tools they need to wield the Word that, not only did she write a book, but she’s also developed a range of online tools and training videos for women to use everywhere. And when she asked if I would be interviewed for her series on how I go about interpreting the Scripture, I couldn’t say yes fast enough…. even though being videoed is seventy six times more terrifying to me than public speaking. Yes, friends, THAT’S how much I want to support this project.

So for you, readers? Here is the link to my interview on Natalie’s blog series: on studying the bible for all its worth. (the first six minutes or so are introduction, and then the interview goes another 35 mins or so. Also, my youngest kid makes a guest appearance at about 7 minutes :) CUTIE PIE ALERT) You can click on the image to take you to the video, too.

Bronwyn-Lea-Collage-300x225

Also, take a look at some of the FANTASTIC resources available at the Women, Leadership and the Bible website.. I mean, seriously, look at this line up of guest speakers on everything from handling tricky topics to a host of women sharing one tip they’ve gleaned about bible study… all streaming right to your little screen at the touch of a button.

AND – I have one copy of Women, Leadership and The Bible to send to a lucky reader. Enter below, and tell a friend. (Sorry, entrants must be in the USA or Canada….)

Enjoy, friends. This is a good one.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Trusting God in Hard Times {Meadow Rue Merrill}

 

Please welcome Meadow Rue Merrill to the blog!

Trusting God In Hard Times

As a young child growing up with a single mom I had my share of hurts—the lack of security that came from not having an involved father, the feeling of not fitting in with my peers at school, the frequent moves that made me an everlasting outsider.

In many ways, this early rejection opened my hurting heart to Jesus, who I first heard about in first-grade. Here was the father figure I’d never had, one who was loving and gentle and kind. One who treasured me. One I could trust.

Through my relationship with Christ, involvement in church, and my mom’s own pursuit of Christianity, I came to know and trust God. I believed that he was actively involved in the world, that he had a purpose for my life, that he protected me, and that he was—and is—all powerful and supremely good. As a result, I gave my life to following him, knowing that nothing could separate me from his love.

What I didn’t know was that God’s purposes are often different from mine and that his power and love often reveal themselves in ways I can’t wholly understand.

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts,’” God speaks in Isaiah 55:9. “’Nor are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher you’re your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

Trusting God involves a full surrender of the soul, will, mind. Or put differently, “Faith in God begins where faith in myself ends.” More than trusting God when it suits me, I am called to trust him unconditionally. It is not about God serving me, but about me serving God.

Accepting this is fundamental if I am to continue trusting God when my life—and the lives of those I love—don’t go according to my plan. God’s purposes are greater than I can comprehend. To continue trusting in the midst of suffering, I must look up and acknowledge who is God. Hint no. 1: it’s not me.

So what does this type of trust look like? I’ll share a story. During the last five years of her life, my mom lived in a historic Christian community in Willimantic, Connecticut. Each summer, for more than 150 years they’ve held outdoor evangelistic services or “camp meetings.” Last July, the week my mom was diagnosed with cancer, was camp meeting week.

The news was overwhelming. Mom was too tired to attend, but after spending some time with her, I walked down the gravel path from my mom’s cottage to the outdoor pavilion and sat on a back bench. In that moment I had a choice. I could either look at the diagnosis and despair or I could look to God.

As a local worship team took the stage, I opened my mouth and raised my hands as I joined in praising God. This act of worship—this drawing near to God—lightened the burden of my suffering as I openly declared my trust that even in this, God was still all powerful, still supremely good, and still had a plan for my mom’s life and mine.

At some point each of us will face a grim diagnosis for ourselves or someone we love. But in choosing to look to God, I knew that we were still held by God and his plans for us were good. Do I wish that God had miraculously healed her here? Absolutely. But even though he didn’t, when my mom took her final breath, God graciously allowed me to be with her, and I was comforted by knowing that she was with the one who loved her best.

05_CindyMerrillMeadow Rue Merrill is an editor, speaker and Christian columnist who writes books for children and adults from her home in Mid-coast Maine. This summer she is posting a summer blog tour on “Trusting God When Life Hurts.” Follow along at www.meadowrue.com

 

 

 

Pick of the Clicks 7/10/2015

A few fabulous links for your weekend enjoyment:

Meme of the week:

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(and I loved Her.meneutics’ caption on this: “Get behind me, inspirational calendar!”)

Want to read a love story? This is part of my own love story, about that time on the leeward slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, when I realized that I’d met the man I was going to marry. Over at the lovely You are Here Stories blog: The sign of windmills.

Want to laugh? Read Laura Turner’s A Christian Case for ‘Magic Mike‘.

Magic Mike was actually …  about a priest who gained magical powers through prayer and went around healing Irish villagers through dance!

No, okay, it was actually about strippers.

Want inspiration?  Read Jen Michel’s Is there value in short-term missions?

Jeremiah, what do you see?” God asks the prophet, conscripting him into missionary service (v. 11). And maybe all ministry, all prophetic witness begins, not with saying, but with seeing. And maybe seeing the world is one way to begin to loving it.

Want to read something that will make you hold your breath and see things from someone else’s shoes? This letter from Ta-henisi Coates to his son is staggering.

At the onset of the Civil War, our stolen bodies were worth $4 billion, more than all of American industry, all of American railroads, workshops, and factories combined, and the prime product rendered by our stolen bodies—cotton—was America’s primary export…

Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage…

…You are a black boy, and you must be responsible for your body in a way that other boys cannot know. Indeed, you must be responsible for the worst actions of other black bodies, which, somehow, will always be assigned to you. And you must be responsible for the bodies of the powerful—the policeman who cracks you with a nightstick will quickly find his excuse in your furtive movements.

Want to read something gorgeous and soul-filling? Read Amy L Peterson’s The Bearable Weightiness of Being, on travel, motherhood, and reading Milan Kundera.

Yet even as I begin to believe in the goodness of commitment and a weighty life, I am still wary of relationships that might tie me down; I still chase that unencumbered lightness I had at twenty.

Want some perspective? Leslie Leland Fields’ Have We Made Too Much of Gender? is a sage word in a crazy season:

Our identity and self is neither fully contained nor fully explained by our manness or womanness or any shade or stripe in between. Indeed, we’ve spent so much time dividing and defining our sexual identity, even in the church, we have lost our most essential identity and with it, our sense of unity.

Yes, God made woman and man different, but that’s not the end of the creation story.

Want something fascinating? Krispin Mayfield’s The Shalom of Neurochemistry, looking at the relationship between oxytocin and human connection….

Oxytocin reminds us what we were created for: connection. This hormone delivers a reward, like we experience from sex or food, just for being connected to others. The benefits of oxytocin are not limited to mood; it aids digestion, regulates heart rate, reduces drug cravings, improves social skills, and has been shown to increase generosity. Scientists have even demonstrated that it encourages monogamy; one study showed that under the influence of oxytocin, committed men were more likely to keep their distancefrom attractive women. We are meant to pursue monogamy, tenderly care for our children, enjoy close friendships, and maintain peace with acquaintances in our community. Oxytocin reminds us, on a chemical level, of who God is, his Trinitarian nature that is in constant communion with himself. It’s like shalom packed into a hormone.

Want to find a way to explore Twitter without getting lost or losing your soul? Aleah Marsden’s Ten Tips for Making the Most of Twitter is bite-sized, sanguine and SO HELPFUL. (Because honestly, the first time I looked at Twitter I was all “what the hairy heck?” but now, thanks to Aleah’s coaching and introductions, it has been a place to connect with some really cool people!)

Want an excellent resource for figuring out the place of women in the Bible (and a great tool set for just approaching the bible in general?) Natalie Eastman’s book is out, and fantastic. Read more here.

Wondering what else I have this week? Some more thoughts on the one thing that marriage does that living together doesn’t: it makes you family (featuring guest appearances from Beyonce and Madeleine L’Engle)

That’s all folks! Enjoy :)

Put A Ring On It (and other thoughts on Status Updates)

What Marriage Does (And Living Together Doesn't)

The first article I ever wrote that got big attention was for Start Marriage Right: The One Thing Marriage Does That Living Together Doesn’t. My thesis? Marriage makes you family.

A committed, cohabiting couple can pool their assets and their ambitions. They can affirm their commitment, they can have children, they can have happy homes. They can have sex, they can travel. But cohabiting couples are, at best, committed companions. They are not family.

The vows said in marriage create a covenant between a couple: they are life-and-death commitments of self and service. The words “I now pronounce you husband and wife” solemnly declared by the officiator are not just public niceties and a cue for the congregation to clap; they are declarative, status-changing words. Just as God’s words “let there be light” made a real, creative change in the status quo and brought something to be where there was nothing before; so the words “I pronounce you man and wife” declare a real, substantive change in the couple’s status quo. That declaration, which is bound in earth and thus bound in heaven, brings something to be where there was nothing before: a family is born.

I got some push-back from readers on this essay: the woman whose husband abused her for years, treated her like scum, and from whom she ran when she had a chance. She has made a new life with a kind man: “we are not married, but he treats me better than my legal family ever did.” The friend who has been living with her partner and their son for nearly four years: “What about us? Are we not a family?” I received maybe a dozen letters and comments like this.

I read those letters mostly with a heavy heart: sad for the terrible way in which people sometimes treat their families; and sad, too, that in these hard times that people are giving up on marriage altogether. In A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle writes on this very thing:

(Young people) have trial marriages, or just share a pad, rather than entering into relationships which are intended to last for life, often following the example of parents who have separated or divorced, with the concomitant philosophy that if you try marriage and it doesn’t work, you quit. They are rebelling not against our morality and discipline but against our lack of morality and lack of discipline. They are unwilling to commit themselves with promises of fidelity in relationships because they have known too many grownups make these promises and then break them as though they didn’t matter. Somehow or other, promises as well as adulthood, must be redeemed.

The brokenness within marriages doesn’t mean marriage as a system is broken. Rather, it speaks to the brokenness of the people in it: people who remain broken whether they’ve made covenants or not. Marriage doesn’t make or break relationships: people make or break marriages. It’s not marriage that makes people abusive or neglectful where they otherwise wouldn’t have been. It’s people themselves who are abusive or neglectful: living together or marrying doesn’t change this. And, I add my story to Madeleine L’Engle’s in agreeing that the promises we make in marriage can (and should) call forth deeper resources in us. She continues:

My seminar students asked me, “But isn’t it better not to make the promises at all? Isn’t it more honest?”

I shook my head. “No. I don’t think so… I’ve been married to the same man for almost twenty-five years, and we love each other more now than we did twenty-five years ago. When we were married we made promises, and we took them seriously… There’ve been a number of times in my marriage when—if I hadn’t made promises—I’d have quit…. Perhaps we made (those promises) youthfully, and blindly, and not knowing all that was implied; but the very promises have been a saving grace.”

Marriage vows have been a saving grace to us, too.

But, to return to my original point, beyond the fact that marriage vows do us good in calling us to a deeper and more secure commitment, marriage vows still do something in reality which Facebook only hints at on a screen: they give us a real-life Status Update. There is something qualitatively different about being married as opposed to living together.

I’ll give a quick pair of illustrations.

There are two ways to take a class at our local community college. You can audit the class or take it for credit. Both options allow you to attend the class, and both options cost money. The credit option costs more: both in money and in commitment. Those auditing the class only have to attend, but they need not (and cannot) take the final exam. Can you learn something from auditing an class? Yes. Can you earn a college degree if you’ve learned something? No. Attending class is a necessary but not sufficient condition for graduation. You also need to have received credit for the classes. To be a registered student in a class is a STATUS change, and it confers both responsibility and privileges on those who wear its mantle.

Second illustration: we are legally resident in the USA as visa holders. But we are not, as yet, “legal residents” in the sense of being allowed to remain here indefinitely. We can stay, we can pay tax, but we cannot draw social security or vote. You couldn’t tell the difference just by watching us in a crowd of people at the 4th July Fireworks, but the difference is there nonetheless: one of legal STATUS.

Now, you may be a truly terrible student: a C-student, or a D-student, even – but if you are a registered student taking a class for credit, you can still graduate with a college degree. A brilliant student who is only auditing the class may win the admiration of his peers and teachers, but he will not graduate from college.  The quality (or lack thereof) of one’s participation doesn’t change the status of the student.

Similarly, Joey-Boy could be a rioting, cussing, menace to society, as well as an American-born citizen. And Sheila-May could be an exemplary girl-guide-troop-leading, tax-paying, honest-to-goodness community leader, even though she is a visa-holder. But no amount of bad behavior from Joey-Boy will take away the fact that he has the legal status of CITIZEN, with all its rights; and no amount of good behavior from Sheila-May will earn her a passport.

Marriage is a status update: from not-family, to family; in a way that co-habiting and living together is not. We don’t get to decide on the definitions of “family”. It’s a status update. What is up to us, however, is to work on being the A-students, and the exemplary citizens, in the institution of marriage. For the sake of our own marriages, and the generations to follow: to take Beyoncé’s advice and Put a Ring On It, and then do our utmost to keep those promises ’til death do us part.

10 Tips For Making The Most of Twitter

When I have a question about Twitter, I ask Aleah Marsden. As it turns out, I’m not alone with my questions about the why, how, and what-the-heck of Twitter, so I asked Aleah to please write us newbies a post. Enjoy, and tweet it to a friend!

Top 10 Twitter Tips

I get comments from people occasionally wondering why Twitter is my hands-down absolute favorite social media platform.

I tell them it’s because there are people there.

Real people with real lives who, if they are using it well, are also looking to interact. I don’t think any other social media platform offers that as simply and effectively as Twitter. Facebook comes with a lot baggage; some people would be better off limited to 140 magical characters. Instagram is visually stunning, though I find its lack of links and difficulty sharing stunt its ability for deeper connection. Pinterest—my least favorite platform—is just flat-out void of people. It feels like I’m walking into a museum alone and I’m looking for someone to discuss the art with and all I can find is more art.

Now, to be sure, being a writer and lover of words, I am biased. Still, wasn’t the original point of social media to connect with, well, people? My biggest writing opportunities have ALL been somehow related to Twitter. I have made friends and connections with people that, frankly, I shouldn’t even know.

As a means of publicly declaring my Twitter devotion (and having a convenient link to send to the person who weekly contacts me about my “Twitter strategy”), I’ve made a list of my Ten Twitter Tips for you to get the most out of this platform:

1. Don’t act like a celebrity. Stop and consider your motives. For many of us a reality of our Twitter use is to increase our social media presence for our platform. I do not have a problem with this, up to a point. However, a trap I fell in when I first began tweeting was being overly concerned with my follower ratio. I wanted to make sure I always had more followers than people I was following because I wanted to look popular. I was the queen of my tiny Twitter-kingdom, and you know what? It ended up stunting my overall growth. This is Twitter people, not prom.

2. Follow-back real people. My general rule: if they have less than five thousand followers and seem to be interested in interaction, or I perceive them as being in my target audience for my writing, then I follow back. There are always exceptions, but I’ve found this to be effective. This does take about half a minute of actual research; clicking on someone’s profile to see what they’re about. But if you’re here for connecting with people and not just looking like a celebrity, then it’s more than worth your time. Often, not always, I’ll use the first profile look to engage someone: I notice you have a lot of kids and like coffee: me too! Or, reading anything awesome right now? Following back is probably the number one way to show you value people above your platform. It says I see you and I care about what you have to say.

3. Invest in slow, sustainable growth. Yes, many of us are here to cultivate a platform. Personally, I do this by daily following a handful of people that I think would benefit from my message, instead of following a thousand people per week who are also just looking to gain followers. I do this by following people who follow people with similar interests. For example, I know that a lot of women who follow the Redbud Writers Guild account (@redbudwriters) are looking to connect with Christian women who are influencing culture. I fit that category, too. I know that women who follow Christianity Today’smeneutics blog (@CT_women) enjoy news and cultural analysis from a feminine evangelical perspective; I want to know what these women have to say. People who follow IF:Gathering (@IFgathering) or Propel (@PropelWomen) are looking to empower women in leadership; I’m interested in that, too. There’s nothing wrong with seeking to follow people, just be genuine in how you go about it. Your numbers will increase more slowly, but you’ll have built an affinity group that actually cares about your message.

4. Be genuine. You should be the same person offline that you are online, and that goes for any social media platform. This does not mean you need to tweet your deepest, most private thoughts. I think of Twitter as a virtual work cocktail party. Would you walk into the room and loudly begin reading your diary? Now, I think there is a place for transparency in any relationship, but I also think in our culture of praising the “brave” and “vulnerable” that we need to consider whether we are sharing to encourage others or to get attention. Figure out where you draw the line between being genuine and over-sharing.

5. Be quick to listen, slow to tweet. One of the coolest things about Twitter is that you can listen in on conversations people are having. I love watching people I admire interacting and engaging difficult topics. It’s not every day (or ever) that I can sit in on a conversation about current events with such a broad scope of voices represented. Twitter can be an excellent tool for better understanding where people are coming from on all sorts of issues. Here’s the thing: YOU DON’T HAVE TO INSERT YOUR OPINION. I mean, if you have something constructive worth mentioning, by all means jump in! Unfortunately, what I usually see happening is a lot of people who feel they need to declare what side they are on as if we’re choosing teams. Tweet-debate is not a team sport.

6. Don’t feed the trolls. There are always those people who struggle with number four. These people are not only looking to join a team, but they’re trying to become team captain. Your best strategy is to ignore them. If they’re particularly bothersome utilize the mute or, as a final resort, block feature. Be aware, though, that just because someone doesn’t agree with your opinion, this does not make them a troll. Twitter is a great place to gain a diverse understanding of issues, so follow people who don’t see the world as you do, but be humble enough to listen without provocation.

7. Love your Twitter neighbor as yourself. I have had numerous people ask me what the secret is to get people to interact with you. Well, if you want people to tweet you, why don’t you start by tweeting them? I set a goal of interacting with five people every time I log on. Do you want people to retweet your posts? Well, go ahead and do some reading and comment and retweet other people’s work. You want someone to tweet about your book? You get the picture.

8. Don’t be a link or retweet spammer. While I appreciate when people share their own or other people’s work, this should not make up the bulk of your tweets. I follow you because I genuinely want to know what you have to say. Please don’t add to my already congested feed by auto-tweeting a link to your most recent post hourly for a week. Certainly do not be one of those people who have a Twitter account for that sole purpose. If you want to promote your work without interaction a better platform choice would be Pinterest.

9. For the love of hashtags. A lot of people hate on hashtags or the newly coined hashtag-activism. Hashtagtivism. Like all of Twitter, I think this has potential for good or evil Personally, I’m a fan of the witty hashtag at the end of a tweet. #thestruggleisreal #hatersgonnahate #procrastinatorsgonnaprocrastinate Some people find them annoying, especially long ones, so use them sparingly. #itshouldnotakeyoufiveminutestodecipherasinglehastagthatisridiculousyouonlyhaveonehundredandfortycharacters. In theory, the purpose of hastags are to gather like content into one place. An especially practical way I’ve seen this used if for book launches. A unique hashtag of your title can help create buzz. (Be sure to check your hashtag before using, though. You wouldn’t want to be linking your work to something sketchy). Also, there is something to be said for hashtagtivism getting a powerful message out, ex: #blacklivesmatter. This is also another way to find people of similar (or respectfully dissimilar) opinions. There are even some excellent communities that gather around hashtags, check out: #amwriting #wholemama #fmfparty.

10. NEVER EVER AUTO-DIRECT MESSAGE This is one of my biggest pet peeves. You follow someone and whatever app they use to manage their account automatically sends a generic direct message. This is a surefire way for me to immediately unfollow or mute you. I don’t know what social media guru teaches people this is the way to go, but if you want people to engage with you, act like a person and personally tweet them. To me this is akin to being handed a gospel-tract from a stranger. Sure, it can sometimes be effective, but I’m much more likely to take an interest in your message or ministry if I have a relationship with you.

Oh, Twitter.

How do I love you? Let me count the ways.

I love you on your very best,

And very worst of days.

This is a somewhat adapted version of one of my sons’ favorite board books How Do I Love You? By P.K. Hallinan. The premise is that a parent steadfastly loves his or her unruly son, no matter what he does; be it coloring on the walls or playing contentedly.

And that pretty much sums up my Twitter experience, as well. For everything wonderful and exciting about this platform, it certainly has its petulant toddlerish side as well, but, oh how I love it!

Yes, for every genuine connection there is an exponential number of trolls and bots, but I believe if you have a heart for connecting with people, then it’s well worth the investment.

Aleah Marsden is a writer, editor, and Social Media and Communications Manager for Redbud Writers Guild. She blogs at DepthoftheRiches.com about life, faith, and Bible study. Connect with her on Twitter: @marsdenmom