Cell Phones and the Fight for Presence

•February 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

Hey all, I heard about this story today, and thought it was something people should see… especially parents. Take a look: 

Texting Gets Out of Hand…

I text. There’s no slamming texting going on here. But as many of you know, youth and parents in particular, I have issues with cell phones at times. I always banned them on youth trips and in the youth room, despite the complaints and disagreements from teens and parents alike. “What’s the problem with texting, Erica?” you ask. Well, the problem is while you’re texting, you’re not present ANYWHERE. It’s completely virtual. You send a text, you’re ignoring the people you’re with – your mind is with people who aren’t with you. But you’re not physically with the person you’re texting, either. You aren’t anywhere. And the more you get into that habit, relying on texting and instant messaging, the less likely you are to be present when real situations “present” themselves.

I can’t tell you how important real community can be. You need real friends, real conversations, real experiences. Instant communication that occurs without face-to-face conversation can turn your filters off, and you may find yourself saying things less and less likely to be said in person. Hence the trends of “sexting.” These things aren’t new, but they are becoming more and more of a problem.

I really feel for the girl in the story. How lonely her life must be to spend so much time texting. How disconnected she must be from everyone around her. Her fingers can be texting a million miles per hours, but where is the human contact and comfort that she should be receiving? The article said that her average texting is equivalent to one text every 2 minutes for every hour of the day. Where’s her family time? It said she was sitting at her birthday party texting her friend sitting next to her while all the other girls were doing karaoke. What kind of presence is that?

I challenge any of you out there reading… if you are feeling a bit uncomfortable reading this, thinking things like “I text quite a bit myself” or “I’m always on the phone” or “I am so addicted to the internet/Facebook/MySpace/AIM/email” or “I spend all my time doing online gaming” or anything like that, commit yourself to taking 2 weeks off. Or start limiting yourself to a few minutes/texts/games a day for several weeks. See what God can do with that extra time. See what REAL relationships can grow. See how your life might change. Who knows? Maybe you’re due to be present. Maybe that’s just what someone needs from you right now.

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My Obituary

•February 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

Hey all! I was at my parents’ house the other day trying to help my mom out with some computer issues and I happened upon a stack of old floppy disks. Among the various school papers and pixelated, early 90s computer games, I found this very random paper I had to write for a college class. Hope you get a kick out of it as much as I did!  🙂

September 2, 1998

            On February 14, 2085, while vacationing in the Swiss Alps, Erica Noel Ares, daughter of Luis and Jeannette Ares, was suddenly trampled by a herd of wild mountain goats, stampeding down the rocky slopes. Commented one spectator, “She (Erica) had just sat down to catch her breath when we saw the herd in the distance. We all yelled for her to get up and run but, though she was a rather fast runner, Erica was a very slow stander, and that’s what did her in.”

            Erica’s death was a tragic blow to her community. A friend of long years lamented “She was so sweet. So . . .well, short. As kids we all used to joke around that she was so short, she was going to get stepped on, and now . . .well, now it seems kinda’ funny that we used to joke like that . . .”

            Erica led a very long, successful life. By the age of 25, she had already become a renowned artist and had traveled to many exotic lands for inspiration. Words that could be used to describe this peculiar woman are “stubborn, impossible and troublesome,” because, though her works as an artist were numerous and well-known, they were, to quote the neighbor down her street, “by no means art. I used to use the ones she gave me for liner in my parrot’s cage.”

            But many will miss the 106 year old woman. Her husband, when told of the death, rocked back and forth on his bed in his nursing home room and was heard mumbling “Erica, Erica, Erica, . . .” but with a look of confused bewilderment rather than loving recognition of his wife’s name. Friends stated, “Though she was a, um, extraordinary(?) woman in life, we are glad that she has finally passed on. Finally.”

            Funeral services will be held a week from today, at 10:00 am at Tampa First Church of the Nazarene. Please bring a covered dish for the Pot-Luck funeral reception following the mornings proceedings.

Just a little clarification…

•February 3, 2009 • 2 Comments

Hey everyone! I know it’s been awhile since posting, but I’m hoping to get back on track with that now that I have some extra time on my hands. And speaking of extra time, I feel that I need to clarify a few things for all my readers out there.  Here’s some info for ya.

First up, I did resign from my position at TTUMC, but not for a lot of the reasons that seem to be swirling around the church. I’m gonna post my resignation letter for you right here, so everyone can see exactly what was written. Most churches will read letters of resignation to the congregation when they recognize a staff member who is leaving, but since the church had me leave quietly, I fear that many are misled and confused as to what exactly happened. Here’s what my letter said:

Dear Temple Terrace United Methodist Church,

I am writing you to personally deliver the news that as of January 27th, 2009, I will be stepping down from my post as Senior Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries. I assure you this was not an easy decision, but it is time for me to move on to the next steps in God’s plan for my life.

 I have served this congregation for almost six years now – at first as a volunteer and nearly five years as a staff member. Before I took my staff position, the youth ministry was in shambles and the children’s ministry was on a steady decline. I can confidently stand here today and say several absolute truths: that the youth ministry has become a solid, God-focused group of amazing young Christians who have far surpassed any expectations I may have had and that the children at TTUMC have a greater love of worship, a stronger grasp of the Bible and biblical truths, and a welcoming, loving atmosphere in which they learn and grow closer to Christ all the time.

 

Unfortunately, I now find that my style of ministry is not in the direction of the church, and I want to follow my calling just as the church wants to follow the direction in which it feels God is leading its congregation. With my ever-changing job description and the unreachable expectations I have been given, I am unable to continue in the position I have occupied. The parts of my position that filled my passion and calling are no longer of value to the leadership of this church and to continue working here without using the gifts Christ has given me would bring fruitless results to these ministry areas. I am a servant of Christ above all things and therefore, in an attempt to please and follow my Master, I must stand for what is right and not stay for personal attachments or unrealistic hopes.

 

I am grateful to many of you for your service, support and friendship over the years, but I especially want to show my unending love for my dear youth and children, of whom I am most proud! They have brought me such joy these past years because I know that they truly love the word of God and seek to know Jesus more and more. I will always boast that I was given the blessing of serving the greatest youth and children’s ministries I have ever seen. I will miss each of them dearly.

 

Anytime I was given the privilege to speak to the church or teach the youth and children, I always made a point to challenge my listeners. Here is my final challenge to you: may you grow closer to Christ with every passing breath and let Him overflow your life to bring those around you closer to Him all the time. We were called to act like Jesus and emulate Him in all things, giving Him all the glory, so may that be your greatest goal in ministry.

 

Please remember me in your prayers as I will remember you.

 

In Christ,

Erica Ares

Some people have heard that I left because I couldn’t handle direction after being so free for so long. That is not the case. Some people have heard that I “didn’t do any work anyways” and some have heard worse than that. Rumors like these are very hurtful to me, inappropriate and damaging to my reputation as a ministry professional. I’d like to assure you of this: I left because I know what my calling/gifts are and I was becoming unable to follow/use them as big changes were being made to my position. I also left because I was unable to continue working in an environment that promoted many things that I could not morally stand behind. Leaving TTUMC had nothing to do with my abilities or lack thereof, I do not have some amazing, high-paying, better job lined up (or any at all at this point), and the decision has absolutely nothing to do with the youth or children that I worked with.

I’d also like to assure you that this has been the most difficult decision I have ever been forced to make. Unless you have worked closely with children or youth in a spiritual setting, you might be hard-pressed to understand the deep relationships and bonds that develop over such a long period of time. Over the years I have helped lead young people to Christ, spoke at length with hurting kids, shared how Christ speaks and seen amazing spiritual growth in these young Christians. I have agonized and hurt and cried and struggled over this decision for quite some time, but I know that God was in the decision as it was made. I can tell you for sure that God has bigger and better plans than I do, than anyone does, and that He will make everything good for those who love Him. And I love Him with all my heart.

I’m not posting this to cause any rifts or to change opinions or to make problems for anyone. I just have gotten so many emails and letters of confusion since my departure was announced, I thought that this might be a way to help clarify what exactly has been going on. Hope this helped some of you out there.  🙂

I’ll post again soon, I promise.  🙂

Shock Advertising

•April 18, 2008 • 4 Comments

gg

I almost didn’t want to post about this, because this is exactly what advertising schemes like this are meant to do, but the need to warn families once more of the idiocy of television overwhelmed me. I’ve written about the tv show “Gossip Girl” in the past (HERE and HERE), but I just want to again restate the inappropriateness of this show for kids and teens. What brings on this new onslaught of irritation from his show? Let’s take a look at their new advertising campaign…

 

 

 It’s almost too much making me angry at one time to notice all of it. There’s this overabundance of the word “sex,” the images of people making out (2 girls even!), teens actually in the act of having sex, the fact that they are all underage, and then they throw in the “OMFG.” For those of you out there who are a little less up on the internet lingo, “omfg” refers to initials spelling out “oh my f****** God.”

What makes this all worse is that, according to multiple sites, this show is missing its target audience (18-34 years old) and instead is attracting the majority of its watchers from the 12-17 age range. That’s just not good. But, in their infinite wisdom, the network is now making an effort to make the show racier and darker in order to attract the original target range (or they lose their time slot). So now, even more sex and inappropriate events are being added in to increase the older viewers watching. I understand the concept, but do they understand that they will now be showing much more crap to preteens and teens who don’t need to be seeing it (but who will continue to watch the show because they’re already hooked by previous episodes and the teen books)? They’ve missed their target audience and hit another, but rather than adjusting that direction, they are adjusting the wrong way, making these young viewers even more exposed to the overly prevalent underage sex and drugs they already experience.

It really makes me sick to my stomach. And I’m sick of people saying “well, that’s just what tv is like” or “well, it’s like that everywhere.” Yeah, it may be – but that doesn’t make it okay. It doesn’t make it appropriate and it doesn’t give us the right to accept it without outrage. It’s so frustrating that we try to instill good things in our kids in a world that’s spewing so much bad, and then we don’t seem to have any say in what’s out there that they’re facing as “entertainment.”

Oh, the many uses of Duct Tape…

•April 3, 2008 • 2 Comments

Well, tonight was a scheduled night of random fun with the youth, and what better to “bring us all closer together” than Duct Tape?! I just wanted to share with you some of the wonderful joy I got out of this event… which really was the most fun I’ve had playing games with the youth in quite awhile! I hope you get a kick out of these as much as me!  🙂

Tristan Hannah

Alex High Voltage 

Team 1 Team 2

Team 3 Wes and Justin

Exciting News!

•March 27, 2008 • 4 Comments

 reveal

Well, as busy as I am, I feel it’s important to take a minute to let you know what’s up. This upcoming Sunday, yes – as in 3 days from now, is Youth Sunday!

You should really be excited. I know, I know… whoopydoo, the annoying teenagers are going to be taking over the services and talking about how they need money and they’re so great. NOT!!! We have almost 20 youth who are giving their time and their talents to both the services this weekend to help lead music, welcome guests, and share testimonies. We’ve had youth sundays before, but none this exciting. I honestly am thrilled. Gone are the days of Erica sermons. This Sunday, we have 3 youth sharing their stories and really, I’m only ring-leading. These kids have some great insights for people of any age, so you’ll just be miserably unhappy with yourself if you miss it. Besides, I have an overnighter Friday to Saturday, Youth Sunday both services, and the Get to Know You Sponsorship Lunch Sunday afternoon. If nothing else, you’ll wanna come to see how I can possibly still be alive at that point.  🙂  Really though, don’t miss it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by these kids. I seem to be more surprised by them all the time.  🙂

What Book Are you?

•March 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Apparently, this is me: 



Les Miserables! by Victor Hugo
One of the best known people in your community, you have become
something of a phenomenon. People have sung about you, danced in your honor, created all
manner of art in your name. And yet your story is one of failure and despair, with a few
brief exceptions. A hopeless romantic, you’ll never stop hoping that more good will come
from your failings than is ever possible. Beware detectives and prison guards bearing
vendettas.

What book are you? Go on and find out (you know you all want to, you book lovers, you) at http://bluepyramid.org/ia/bquiz.htm and then comment me and let me know!  🙂