Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Of course we all know that there is a great deal of information on the Internet, including God's words of comfort and salvation, but the issue is how effectively are we using technology and specifically a church's website to reach out to members and the wider community?
This is a question that I will be studying, so you'll see some of what I'm learning on this blog.
Join the conversation
If you have comments, advice, thought-provoking questions, or ideas on this subject, please join the discussion.
If you are looking for ways to present this topic for your group or church, you may be interested in the Internet Evangelism Resources that are available.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Church Web site ministry is a new area of interest for me. I'll be posting some information on this blog on the topic as I learn.
The PCUSA Web site has a good article on resources for building a Web site:
How to create a Web site for your congregation
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I love them and most of the time I like them, even if they're smarter, more talented, prettier or win Tripoli and all the cash.
Even better than warm feelings, I'm committed to my family -- to doing supportive and kind things, as much as I am prayerfully able.
I'm not unique. Many people have strong feelings of affection and commitment toward family members.
Over the years, I've been surprised how my definition of family has changed.
For me, family was mostly my husband and children. We didn't live close to other family members, so our tight nuclear family group was it for many years. Extended family members in the West were penciled into a busy calendar, as travel and schedules allowed.
Although some of our children's friends felt like family -- I loved to see them when they popped over, usually at dinnertime -- when our children left home, fewer young people dropped by. David and I had to deal with a changing family reality.
During the first empty nest year, when the youngest of our four children was deployed to Iraq, our Friday night pizza routine and our schedules changed and so did the way we thought of family.
A devotional insight widened my definition of family.
One day shortly before Matt left for bootcamp, I read a Bible passage where Mary was watching her son Jesus dying on the cross. It's a difficult ordeal for Jesus and I usually focus on his sacrifice. That day, I focused on Mary and her loss. I found it comforting that God didn't take away someone in her family without giving her someone else. God, characteristically, gave Mary a gift in place of her loss. Jesus knew how God operated, and he told his mother, "Woman, behold your son," referring to his close friend and disciple John.
Although scripture passages are written about specific people and events, principles in the passages often have an application for a reader. I felt as though I was losing the last of my children in a practical sense, so I looked around to see who else in my immediate environment God might be giving to me to care about. There was more than one person who I genuinely cared about. With fewer people at home, I had more time to reach out to others.
I've seen people who treat people in the church as family. I knew the "church family" concept, but it really hasn't meant a lot to me on a regular basis. After reading that passage in a different light and looking around me, my understanding of an extended family changed. Some of the members of the church became more important to me, so did a few neighbors and distantly located family members.
That was nearly five years ago.
I'm continuing to learn what it means to redefine the extended family concept. We had the privilege of meeting our beloved Lauren's mother yesterday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We'd heard about her. We knew that we would someday meet her since Matt and Lauren have been dating for years with an ever deepening commitment. I expected to like Lauren's mom. And I did.
A comment Lauren's mother made surprised me and made me think. During dinner she told us she tells her fourth-grade class some of the funny events that include Matt or another of our family members. She said my family was like her extended family.
My ears picked up on that because I hadn't thought of her as part of my family. For the first time, I realized I could extend my family boundary lines to include the mother of my son's girlfriend. Lauren was already family, why not her mother? We can be friends on Facebook or MySpace or ShoutLife or even face to face.
So, why not let my heart care for her as though she were a member of my family?
It is fun having a heart that can stretch to include others.
So, does that mean a thousand people will be at our house for Christmas? Not likely. But, as I age, I find there are more people this old sagging heart can love than I ever thought possible. I meet new ones all the time.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
It takes courage and faith for graduates to knock on doors and ask about needs and opportunities that may be a good fit for their talents and ambitions.
It takes courage to walk away from one poor fitting need and faith to keep looking for a better fitting place to serve with a whole heart.
It takes courage for employers to take a chance on an unproven prospect and faith to believe that an investment in an employee will prove wise in the long view.
Lord, in these media-hyped economic times, give each graduate and employer courage to do what is right.
Let faith, not fear, guide choices.
Let hope, not pessimistic imaginings, fill spirits.
Let sound thoughts and integrity, guide actions.
In all that is said or decided, let kindness prevail.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
It's hard to believe that it was twenty-five years ago when our young family moved from Kentucky to Maryland when David accepted a job with IBM. So much has changed since then.
Even the name of David's employer changed when IBM sold an entire group -- employee roster, computers, chairs, desks, pens and trash cans. And then, a few years later, it happened again.
Those were turbulent years. But David handled them well. He demonstrated a knack for negotiating changes within the company as well as for riding the crests of a constantly changing technology scene.
Today, David's co-workers celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary with Lockheed.
(Photo credit: Fireworks over San Diego Bay, www.pdphoto.com)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
If you're interested in a new Christian market for your messages or have church news you want to share, you may want to look at Inspirational Times.
". . . find a niche of time to write anyway, away from despairing drafts or busy whirlwinds, and preserve that flickering flame of desire to write."
Write! Just do it.
Drag out a journal, jot down ideas: snatches of conversation, odd facts, descriptions of people or places you see, struggles and feelings you're going through.
The best way to develop writing skills or keep them honed is to write.
Write! Write out what is on your mind and heart, ignore errors.
Do you have an internal editor that annoys you with criticisms of what you just wrote? I do.
Don't let your desire to write well keep you from writing. Don't worry about the exact words or spelling or grammar too much in a first draft. Just get the ideas out.
Make yourself tell that annoying editor in your head to wait. The editor can come back later and make corrections. That's when an internal editor's opinions are most helpful.
Keep the creative juices flowing, especially when you're writing a first draft, by giving yourself permission to just do it, without judging it, without correcting it. Just write.
Write! Write in this season of your life.
Would you write more if you had the time? There are seasons of life that may be too busy to write much, but find a niche of time to write anyway, away from despairing drafts or busy whirlwinds, and preserve that flickering flame of desire to write.
In another season of your life you may have more time to write. Then, you'll be glad you kept your observation and communication skills in shape for the workout you would give them. You'll enjoy flipping through the pages of old journals to find glimpses of that busy time, as well as projects to more fully develop.
This isn't a guarantee. But this was my experience. I'm grateful to be in a season of my life where I have more time to write now.
So, wherever you are on your journey as a writer or artist or thinking communicator ... do what you can with what you've got in the time available to you.
If you believe God gave you a gift, use it as you can, where you can. Let God deal with the results.
Write! Write! Write!
Candle (Credits: Public Domain Pictures.net)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Duffy Robbins, a professor of youth ministry at Eastern College and popular speaker, led the Generation Change seminar in Baltimore. The youth director and a handful of youth advisors and youth from our church attended. I teach Sunday School to Middle School students, so I wanted to go.
Although the message of change your world is a familiar one to this baby boomer Christian, the packaging and presentation of the message was distinctly today. Robbins used multimedia segments from popular movies, commercials, and other relevant film clips to punctuate and emphasize his talking points. Humor was liberally spread on each major and minor point.
In all, there were three sessions, lunch, breaks and time to chat with others or browse the book table. I made a mistake not to buy several books during the break after the first session because they disappeared fast.
The training included a book with the outline for the talk, some quotations used and places to keep notes. The book is a meaningful reference for thinking through and remembering the day's topics with accurate details.
The Generation Change training was worth going to.
TransparencyThere were too many points made during the sessions to discuss here so I will concentrate on transparency.
We arrived late, but we were just in time to hear the end of the first session "It Starts from the Inside Out." The session was on how change starts within you. You don't transform your world, God does. You transform you world by first beginning with you.
Three areas in which we may need to change are Truth, Trust or Transparency.
- Truth -- Do we really believe what God says, more than the lies and doubts that clamor for our attention?
- Trust -- Do we really trust God to keep his promises and help us?
- Transparency -- Are we building community where we can take off our masks appropriately?
"The future of the church depends on whether it develops true community. We can get by for a while on size, skilled communication and programs to meet every need, but unless we sense that we belong to each other, with masks off, the vibrant church of today will become the powerless church of tomorrow. Stale, irrelevant, a place of pretense where sufferers suffer alone, where pressure generates conformity rather than the Spirit creating life -- that's where the church is headed unless it focuses on community."
Of the journey of transformation starting from the inside out, transparency was most meaningful to me. Transparency, appropriate transparency, is hard for me. Yet, in my prayers and meditations for some time now, I believe we need to find places and people where we can take masks off and really let people know who we are and what is going on. If we don't, or we can't, we lose out on so much of what God can do through others and through us.
God builds community between a large or small group of Christians when we can trust God and each other enough to share who we really are and what we are struggling with.
On the other hand, years earlier, we didn't experience community when my father was dying. I didn't feel free to tell people in the church. If my father had been dying of a brain tumor, I could have. But when a relative dies of AIDS ... I didn't share. It was so lonely and I walled myself off in silence. I felt disconnected from the other church members. I didn't experience community primarily because I didn't trust others enough to share my pain. Even so, God ministered to my heart through that experience where I was.
We experience community when we share our lives even with only a few others. In another situation our family went through, I told only the pastor and a few people at church. After having tasted how wonderful it was to have some supportive people listen and pray, I so didn't want to wall myself off in silence. We experienced community by sharing.
If you are struggling behind a mask today, I hope you can muster the courage to take your mask off with at least one other person. Don't suffer in silence. Yes, God can meet you in your walled off cell. But God has messengers of love and acceptance he wants you to meet. When you start talking to someone you can trust, you may find God's acceptance and love working through them and freeing your heart.
You are forgiven. You are not alone. You are greatly loved by the God who sees you, who knows who you are, who knows what you are going through and can bring you even closer to himself to the place of joy and peace. We experience community with others who love God's truth, trust in God's ways and are transparent with God and others appropriately.
Why are you afraid to let people really know you?
How can you help someone around you who is struggling with transparency?
- Model transparency. Remember Christ let his disciples get to know him and what he was going through. Christ's friends knew when he was hungry or tired or was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane or dying on a cross.
- Pray. Remember Christ is praying for us as we struggle, so pray for others as they struggle.
- Forgive. Remember Christ forgave us, so forgive others.
- Communicate grace in your words and attitudes. Remember you are righteous in God's eyes ONLY because of God's grace, so accept others as forgiven and righteous in God's eyes based on faith alone.
- Love. Remember God doesn't let anything separate us from his love, so love others without conditions.
We build community in our church by being real and allowing others to be real. We help each other do this when we live the truth, trust in God and prayerfully live a transparent faith.
I'm trying to do this. How about you?
Friday, April 11, 2008
His message is wonderfully sad, funny, wise and memorable -- sometimes all at once.
Randy Pausch, the 47-year-old professor dying of cancer, inspired millions on the Internet who watched his "last lecture." In September 2007, Pausch talked about achieving childhood dreams and living life with integrity and joy. He spoke to a roomful of colleagues and students at Carnegie Mellon University. At the end, he revealed the messages were really intended for his three children, aged 7 and under, who he would not be able to help his wife raise.
Pausch has inspired millions with his message. His "last lecture" is now a book.
Shortly after Pausch gave his "last lecture," I watched a video of it on the Washington Post Web site. His message is wonderfully sad, funny, wise and memorable -- sometimes all at once.
Pausch's example inspires me to write messages -- important messages, loving messages, things-I-want-to-say-before-I-die messages to my children. Some of what I blog is just that. If others listen now and then, that's good, too.
If you haven't done it already, I hope you watch the "last lecture." Then, live your childhood dreams and encourage others to live theirs.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
What would Washington commuters and visitors do when they heard a world-famous musician playing anonymously in a Metro station?
In a recent article for the Washington Post, Gene Weingarten describes what happens when Joshua Bell, a renowned and gifted violinist, gives a concert in a Washington, D.C., metro station during a weekday morning rush hour.
Street musicians are not uncommon in a Metro station. But it isn't everyday that commuters hear the strains of some of the world's most beautiful music played on a Stradivarius by a famous musician.
Most of the more than 1000 commuters ignored the musician. Only a few commuters stopped to listen for a few minutes. Only one recognized Joshua Bell.
The author made several important points. Here is a sampling:
- Context matters. People don't always recognize people when they are encountered out of context.
- Priorities affect experiences. People are too busy and preoccupied to really see and hear brilliance and beauty around them.
I think we can expect to hear pastors and writers use one or more of the observations made in this article.
For me, Joshua Bell's experience resonates with Jesus' experience of not being recognized as the son of God.
Today, my prayer is for God to open my eyes and ears to the beauty and wonderful things and people around me.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Last October, organizers gave away free books at the Sandy Cove Writer's Conference I attended. In 25 words or less, we had to explain why we thought we should get a free book. I submitted my entry: "I live with more than 10,000 books and always have room for one more."
They didn't give me a free book.
I'd recommend the conference anyway. Just don't plan on taking home a complimentary book if you go.
I sometimes forget what I thought I learned before on this subject. Yesterday was a good opportunity to remember anew.
The message was timely because the day before another politely worded rejection slip found its way into my mailbox. After getting a rejection slip, I sometimes need a reminder that God wants obedience, not results.
It can get discouraging when we work hard and do what's right and good and we don't see the results we expected. In the world, we are often measured on results. It's easy to fall into that way of thinking and take rejections personally. God doesn't measure us or our efforts in this way, the devotional writer reminds us. God desires our obedience.
This is true in writing and in other areas of life.
So what am I going to do about the rejected submission? I'm going to prayerfully research the market again and either resubmit it as it is or revise it first.
That may sound like a no-brainer to some people, but it isn't always easy for me to shake off the dust of rejection from my feet (and keyboard) and begin again in obedience to God's call to write.
Today, I want to focus on being a clean and overflowing conduit of God's love in words and actions.
If the Creator can grow majestic sequoias from a few scattered seeds, God can salvage beauty from the small offerings we release on the breezes of faith.
To read the devotional: "Obedience - Not Results"
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Paul warns parents to be wary of marketing hype and suggests why.
As a parent of a large family by today's standard, Paul's article rings true.
I'm planning of taking a closer look at Paul's newly released book, Parenting, Inc. How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers -- and What It Means for Our Children.
You might want to check this out also.
To read the article, select: “Three Kids: You Showoffs"
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Barbara Meade, a co-owner of Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore, commented on Border's dilemma in her store's newsletter. Meade is quoted in today's Washington Post, "Borders has announced a shift in business from selling books to selling the whole business."
This isn't surprising news. Change and economic competition are part of the American way.
As a small independent seller of books online, I'm interested in the trend.
To read the article, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/04/AR2008040403540.html
But God did.
After a pregnancy test confirmed the news, I visited a doctor's office. The nurse asked, "Was this a planned pregnancy?"
"Not exactly," I said.
"Would you like to schedule an abortion?" she asked.
"W- W- why?" I stammered out.
"You already have three children," she said matter-of-factly.
We switched to another obstetrician, and months later, Matthew, our gift from God, was born.
Raising four children has meant a busy household and juggling finances. But we've cherished our children. Each one is a gift from God, planned or not.
That doesn't mean it has been easy. It hasn't. But the challenges have stretched us and taught us and formed us to trust in God's strength and wisdom in big and small things.
I'm glad we have embraced each of God's gifts to us and all the laughter and challenges that included. We have grown along with our children, and our roots have burrowed deep into the soil of God's great love for us.
Friday, April 4, 2008
For many Republicans and Democrats abortion is a defining issue when it comes to pressing an election touch screen for a presidential candidate. This discussion examines why some Democratic voters are conflicted, or not, on the faith-based implications of the Democratic Party's pro-choice position.
In summary of the perspectives:
- Mark Stricherz* writes that abortion positions held by Democratic party leaders, particularly the presidential candidate groups, are contradictory to stated goals of protecting and supporting the common man and children when they ignore the rights of the weakest citizens.
- Amy Sullivan** defends why some pro-life voters support pro-choice presidential candidates because of their positions on other issues.
* Mark Stricherz is a contributor to www.GetReligion.com and author of Why the Democrats Are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People's Party.
** Amy Sullivan is the national editor at Time magazine and author of The Party Faithful: How And Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap.
To read the discussion, see http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2008/04/mark_and_amy.html
For more information, see http://triciagoyer.com/GenX.html
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Staying motivated was always the most difficult part of dieting whenever I’ve joined Weight Watchers. Eventually, my well-intentioned efforts would slow down and whatever motivated me to start the program wasn’t able to keep me motivated to persist.
After years of yo-yo dieting, I’ve realize I need to work at identifying what motivates me to eat sensibly.
At least, I’ve learned what doesn’t motivate me.
Friends try to encourage dieting by saying, “You’ll live longer.” Sorry. That image never motivated me. Why would I want to be a freckle-faced, crooked and creaky, grey-haired octogenarian who races around in a track suit and sneakers some day? I’m not that brave, not yet.
Other friends say, “You’ll feel better.” Hmm. Yes, that might motivate me except, ya’ know, for years I wanted something yummy after a long commute and a busy day. Sipping on a chocolate frosty from Wendy’s or munching cookies was so what I wanted.
Then there are those who say, “You’ll look better.” Okay, there may be some truth in that, but when you’re over, (cough) um, thirty, and you know you’ll never look like Marilyn Monroe, why try?
Great attitudes, huh? I know, I wish these adages worked for me as well as they work for other people, but they don’t. That has been the problem.
Let’s face it. For some time I was operating on the full knowledge that I’d rather eat something tasty that night than live longer, feel better, and look better in the distant future.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has entertained some of these non-productive attitudes. But, for years, I didn’t hear too many comments that could motivate me.
I hate to admit it, but even knowing that my body was the temple of God . . . . Yeah, I'm embarrassed about that one. I felt defeated.
Then, one day at work, about three years or four years ago, a co-worker expressed concern about an older women we both cared about who was struggling with weight problems that were affecting her energy and health. He had championed her efforts to eat well and lose weight and he worried when she didn’t make much progress. I was agreeing with his concerns during a break when he turned his eyes on me. (Cringe.) And he started using the same motivational statements that never worked for me before. (Sigh.) Then he asked, “Wouldn’t you like to keep up with your grandchildren?”
That question made me think. Yes, that was something I wanted to do. I didn’t have any grandchildren at that time, but I knew I’d want to keep up with them when they came along.
So, that’s where Alea comes into all this. Alea is crawling now. I need to get moving if I want to keep up with her because it won’t be long before she’s walking … and then running.
Alea adds crawling to her resume. Photo Credit: Jeremiah Crank (c)2008 Cranks. Used by permission.
I’d like to be able to chase a giggling Alea around the house with pretend growls, not breathless panting. She’s not there yet. I’m not there either. She’s only just started to crawl, but I’m getting worried. Her mom said recently that Alea is picking up speed. She’s not wasting time.
I need to get moving. It seems persistence may be easier this time around because I now have several motivations that have hooked deep into desires I value. Now all the motivations are pulling together into a winning team, or should I say losing team? It's all in the perspective. It always has been.
Okay, Alea. I’m motivated to eat healthier and to get these arms and legs moving more. If you can make a game out of standing up and sitting down over and over and over and get a little stronger each day, maybe I can too.
I’m getting ready for our race someday. Then, we’ll celebrate with a tea party and munch a cookie or two.
Specific events have hindered and helped me to write. When a member of my writers’ group secured a writing position with a major ministry, I was discouraged enough at that point to focus on other paying employment and mothball efforts to write for publication. Something had to give. There were many bills to pay.
Over time, I also discovered that I enjoyed pushing aside my usual silence and speaking up to teach groups at church and work.
I didn’t realize it at the time but my paths led to greater freedom and voice when my heart yearned to be closer to God and I worked hard at whatever task was at hand. My work ethic is fueled by the verses in Colossians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23-24 NASB).
I found success and failure enough in business and personal areas to be freer to want to use my voice – written or spoken – in ways that serve God’s purposes whatever that might mean. The smoldering desires ignited into a greater freedom for me to write when my youngest daughter accepted a job out of college that paid her bills but didn’t necessarily fuel her dreams – at least not right away. I didn’t like thinking I had shown my children through my example to accept and keep a job that paid bills but did little to ignite fires in their hearts and spirits. I wanted to live by example by working from my heart more. My husband David agreed.
A confluence of events allows me to write more now. The time is right.
Freedom – real freedom – isn't a place or a financial position. Freedom is the desire to be useful – to be willing to let God take my work and voice where he will. Freedom is living more in harmony with God and with the desires I believe he has planted in my heart.
Heart Dreams: God's GPS
We need to be careful to listen to the desires that tug and kick and grow inside our hearts. For if the desires of our hearts are not illegal and do not violate God’s teachings, they may be the whisperings of God’s Spirit who knows us and loves us and has created us to work in ways and places that only we in our uniqueness can best serve.
There is joy in letting God lead us by heart desires that are cleansed and given to him. For a season, if we must walk in paths that seem to lead far from what we thought God wanted for us, God travels with us and he is not lost.
The poet Langston Hughes wrote: “Hold fast to dreams, / For if dreams die, / Life is a broken-winged bird / that cannot fly.”
How true it is that something within us dies when we neglect to nourish our God-given dreams and desires in whatever slots of time and opportunity we have.
Although the biblical patriarch Joseph had dreams that were eventually realized, his journey was not quick, nor painless, and it certainly wasn’t laid out in a straight line. Joseph’s journey included a loving father-mentor, a dysfunctional family, several cruel betrayals, years of grunt work, management opportunities, imprisonment and suffering. During all this, Joseph grew in his faith and put into practice God’s way of forgiveness. All the while Joseph worked diligently at the tasks at hand. Eventually, Joseph’s path led him to a place where his God-inspired dreams and his daily opportunities converged more fully.
A whole heart brims with healing desires
If we don’t already experience it, I’m persuaded we can find greater freedom to be who we were created to be, like Joseph. We can work with a whole heart, a healed heart, as we find delight in God and in his ways. Then, also, our hearts will overflow because our Heavenly Father has promised "and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4 NIV).
I don’t know about you, but leaning into God’s promises like this one frees my voice . . . and my spirit.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
David and I just got back from visiting my mother-in-law, Pat, in Phoenix. She talked and talked. (She has a lot to say.) I heard family stories I’d heard dozens of times and stories I’d never heard before. We ate awesome authentic Mexican food and talked. We drove through flower-filled desert stretches north of Phoenix and talked. We talked while we peered at ancient pottery and flint exhibits at Tuzigoot National Monument and at Montezuma Castle National Monument. We talked while we hiked by ancient Sinagua Indian ruins. We talked over Marie Callender’s sour cream raisin pie slices made especially for David. We talked at night while Bones helped catch the bad guys and House figured out the diagnosis and the T.V. droned in the background. I don’t remember when we ever talked so much. But it was good and it was important.
Keeping in touch builds friendships. Keeping in touch keeps us, especially writers, from being isolated and dull.
Keeping in touch when you can look people in the eye and hear their tone of voice is one thing. It is also important to keep in touch by words scribbled on paper or typed in an email or blog.
I recently created a profile on LinkedIn to stay in touch with former co-workers at CACI. When I received a “snail-mail” letter from a former co-worker who I had lost touch with, I goggled her name and found this networking site where I could email her and other former co-workers. So now we have begun to bridge several silent years with newsy emails.
Besides the personal benefits of building and maintaining friendships, keeping in touch can sometimes lead to professional benefits. When former co-workers are aware of a job-related opportunity, they often pass the information on to friends. This avenue of communication can be helpful in securing a job interview for yourself or a friend. This has happened for several people I know.
As a writer, I’m enjoying keeping in touch with others who work in the Christian publishing field by being a member of the TWV2 group at yahoo. Each week there are topics on which writers, editors and agents can post tips and insights. Some of the posts get me thinking and challenge me to keep learning and working on my writing and marketing skills. Now and then, I also post some of my thoughts in the hope that someone else can benefit from the mistakes or lessons I’ve learned through the years.
As a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and great-aunt (whew!!), I am making it more of a priority to keep in touch with family members these years. (Don't worry, I love being a wife also. Wife isn't listed, because we see each other and talk all the time.)
Keeping in touch with friends, co-workers and family members is worth the effort. Those important interactions keep our personalities sharp, as well as our skills and opportunities, “as iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17).