The Beauty of Technology

Take a break.

My husband and I were celebrating 14 years of marriage and after a lovely meal we strolled into the Apple Store to check on my pitiful phone battery.  He decided to go to the book store next door while I waited and watched and listened.  If you enjoy any degree of people watching, you may want to visit an Apple Store and just hang out for a bit.  While I waited, I witnessed, absorbed and felt the panic of others!   “My pictures!  My data!  How long will I be without my phone? I didn’t back it up! It crashed!”

We are absolutely desperate for technology.  It has become our oxygen.  Everything and anything at all times at our fingertips – just like that!  The more I listened, the more I saw myself.  The more I realized it was my oxygen.  I mean, I am here waiting for a new free battery and it’s my anniversary date!  It was in this 45 minutes of waiting and listening that I really started contemplating my relationship with technology.

Right as the store closed there was one woman left at the genius bar, and I caught the last bit of her conversation.  She was explaining to him that she shares data with her daughter and her phone’s memory is full all of the time.  He explained there are two things that eat up most of the memory – music and pictures.  And then he said this, “Think about it – 10 selfies a day adds up fast – in 3 months that’s almost 1000 images!”

Images.  We are supposed to be image bearers of God.   1 Corinthians 15:49  And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.  Do our selfies, and our images reflect Him and His love?  Is it a selfie in our new outfit or is it a selfie serving at the homeless shelter?  I love pictures and I can fill up a phone, but this whole concept made me think about what I put out and why.  Music.  Any song, at the press of a button, made me think about what I listen to and why.  There is so much on that tiny screen that enters my heart through my eyes and my ears.  What am I letting in?

For me, technology is both beauty and the beast.  It is a fine line.  There is so much good that can come from it.  The beauty reaches people for Christ, and changes the world!  It connects us with others and helps us to stay in touch.  It provides a coupon in an instant, and recipe ingredients just in time on aisle three.  It remembers every birthday and event.  It reminds us and gives us directions. It captures moments.  It really is helpful and very much appreciated!

But still.

The beast consumes my time.  The beast makes me miss the funny conversation about what happened at the 4th grade lunch table today because my eyes are focused on the screen and not the precious animation in front of me.  The beast makes me think I need to reply to this text, right now.  It buzzes, dings and screams for my attention and for my focus.  The beast lures me to just sit for a moment and scroll – then an hour later says “Wait! you are almost done.  Don’t you want to see what was for dinner, and peruse the pictures from that vacation of a lifetime?”  At times, it’s like going to a party where everyone one-ups, judges, feels judged, compares, competes, and photo-shops life!

The beast of technology wastes my time and makes me anxious.

I’m looking for the beauty.

I’m starting by simply taking a few breaks.

Facebook can be a hard place for me.  I deactivated last year for 6 weeks which ended up lasting almost 6 months.  When you choose the option to deactivate, your friends faces will pop up and say, “but ___will miss you!  Are you sure?”  It’s a little like Hotel California.   But, once I check out – I smile.  I pushed it. I deactivated.

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Notifications make a lot of noise!  If it dings, beeps, or vibrates I am turning it off and making it be quiet.  I will look at it when I am ready, instead of every time it screams urgent!

Music moves me and I love it, but I’m keeping it simple and removed all but Christian songs to guard what goes in.

There are apps, games, and other icons  that I hardly open.  I’m removing them from my phone. I can always add them back later.

You’ve got (LOTS OF) mail.  I am taking time to unsubscribe to all of those emails that I never open or read.  Delete.  Send to spam.  Clean out the inbox.  Keep it clean.

Taking breaks from technology gives me more time and deeper connections.

I am able to spend more time in the Word connecting with God!

I can write a letter, with a pen, add a stamp and mail it.

Or maybe even pick up the phone, and have a conversation.  Listen to the emotion and feel the emotion.  Experience laughter. 🙂  Cry real tears. 🙁  Wink, for real. 😉

I can meet a friend in person.  Chat. Engage. Put the phones away. Be intentional. Be fully present. Look into their eyes. Listen. Hear every word.

I really want to open a spiral notebook and write. Repeat. Often.

I hope to make the meal I pinned,  and write out the lyrics to the song I purchased.  I may even print and frame my favorite Instagram picture.

I am finding the beauty, and the joy.

 

What about you?

Do you feel like technology takes too much of your time?

Does it stress you out and make you anxious?

How do you manage it?

A Path to Rest

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I thought I was breathing.  I exhaled.  My soul was taking in nourishment.  Deep cleansing nourishment.  I started dreaming.

and then…

Last Thursday I woke up and felt a deep dark heaviness surround me.  I grabbed colored pencils to take to work with me that morning because I wanted to draw what it felt like to show my counselor.  Having just returned from Mexico where many of the roads were cobblestone …I had planed to draw a narrow path of bright cobblestone rocks, and along the path would be birds, rainbows, flowers ….and as I walked along this path I had a pink umbrella covering me and all of these beautiful things were under the umbrella and the path was shimmery sparkle, but all that surrounded this narrow path was a foggy darkness.  A Heavy Darkness, and it was pressing in on the path.   That was what it felt like that morning.

I took the colored pencils to work but was so busy I never did anything with them. I headed to my appointment and on the drive there as I was switching channels, I heard this song for the first time  – “Human”, by Christina Perri.  It hit a nerve.  A very raw nerve.

“I can hold my breath.”

That is the first line in the song.  Then the chorus, “But, I’m only human, and I bleed when I fall down.” and later…  “I can turn it on.  Be a good machine.  I can hold the weight of worlds if that is what you need, be your everything.  I can do it!  I can do it!!”

Hearing this song was overwhelming.  Music does that to me.  It screams the things I dare to utter.

I made it up the steps holding emotion and opened the door to this on the wall.  I was all alone in the waiting room.  I stood there and took a picture.  It was my vision.  This narrow bright path surrounded by a foggy darkness.

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I tried to explain it to her even though I am not sure I even understand it all myself.  I feel shielded and protected and loved by God.  I feel like He is carrying me.

But I am so afraid.

So much fear.  I don’t want to be afraid.  I struggle to even say what I am afraid of but the fear is intense and its surrounding that path.   When I left and was headed home, a huge storm came through and it was pouring so hard that traffic had almost stopped completely on the interstate.  All you could see was flashing lights in front of you.  It was loud and intense on the outside …but I was dry, covered, protected.  Safe inside.

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I was encouraged after the session and later posted verses with the path picture on Instagram to remind me of His goodness along that path.  Yes, I am only human.  But HE is my Lord. He guides me and protects me.  He leads me in the way that time has proven true (Psalm 139:24)

I don’t have to hold my breath anymore.    On this path with Him, there is fresh air for me to breathe.  Air that smells like cotton candy.  Air that reaches my depleted spaces to replenish and restore.

~Fear~

On Sunday, we had a “Nail it to the Cross” service at church from Colossians 2:7-14.  I took my paper and I nailed FEAR to that cross.  I have seen His Power and His Might and His Provision firsthand and I know I don’t have to be afraid.  The human in me knows that I will be afraid.  But, I am surrendering it to Him.  I took my fear and then pounded it with that nail and with each pound it reverberated my insides.

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I wish I could tell you that I am not afraid now.  I’d be lying.  I am afraid, but I am breathing.  This bright narrow path limits me.  It pauses me to rest.  To remove distractions and obstacles.  To move carefully and to move slow.  In fact, on Monday the book arrived.  I waited until everyone was in bed and then I opened it.  I held it, flipped it open and read.  I sat quietly and stared.  I read some more.  My husband looked over at me and said,  “What are you doing?  It’s been two hours?”   I had only read a few pages, but I was breathing.  Deep.  Finding Spiritual Whitespace.

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Jeremiah 6:16

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

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An Uncommon Mother’s Day

My husband and I were flying to Mexico for vacation on my birthday and Mother’s Day weekend (we didn’t get to pick the date)!   On our second flight, we did not get to sit together. I sat by the window with two empty seats beside me.  I looked up from my book to see this beautiful little girl in a pink dress, with sparkle and twirl.  Her nails were painted and her toes were painted and she wore pink glasses and she was precious.

Her Dad was getting everything ready for the flight and checking on her brother who sat behind us.  He was giving her gum, setting up the TV for her to watch, and getting her earphones plugged in. They announced there was a maintenance problem with the plane and we had to sit there for 45 minutes and it was hot!  He would press the buttons to get her show going and then her little hand would hit the channel button and change it.  He would say, “ok sweetheart, first we find the family section, ok scroll down, Scooby?  Or Frozen?  Frozen it is…oh, ok Scooby.  Here you go…”  There you are….and then she changed it again.  Daddy, I can’t find Scooby!  “okay, sweetheart, click here ok, Family …there you go.  This literally happened about five times.  I waited.  For him to lose it.  Adults on the plane were losing it because of the delay and the heat.  He never did.

The pilot told us we would need to  get off of the plane for an hour for the repair and reload.  As we stepped off the plane I had a tear going down my cheek.  Thinking that little girl knows she is a princess.  Missing my kids.  Thinking about Mother’s Day.  Thinking about how I lose it sometimes.  Thinking about how a delayed flight and heat, and buttons would have likely generated a different response from me.  I was challenged by that interaction in so many ways.

An hour later we were back on the flight and I was sitting with Anthony now and had exchanged seats with someone else.  We were off in the clouds as I began to read ‘The Uncommon Woman” by Susie Larson.

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I read the entire book on that flight.  I was convicted.  I was challenged.  I was inspired.    I was changed.

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The message of the book is to be uncommon:  To realize that with God’s strength,  you are everything and in your own strength – nothing.  To encourage other women and truly cheer for them and avoid all paths of envy and jealously.    To not engage in gossip or malicious talk, and to be bold enough to walk away or stop conversations that are not fruitful.  To overcome fear and to go the next step with Christ because you know he has you covered.  This is a brief summary but I would think the health of many churches and families would change if more women read this book.  Go read it!

As we were getting our luggage – the little princess and her Dad were in front of me and I walked by him and stopped and patted his back…and I said, “You are a good Father.  Your interaction with your daughter deeply blessed me.  You are patient, and loving, and kind.”  He smiled and replied humbly, “Sometimes, you just take a deep breath.. lots of them.”

Before the guilt of spending Mother’s Day without my children on vacation in a beautiful country could overwhelm me, I felt the Lord tug at my heart.  NO, don’t go there.  Be still and listen.  Be uncommon.  Don’t let guilt take your eyes off of what I am showing you.

Blend the encounter of the man on the plane and the book the Uncommon Woman, and think about what it would mean to your children if you became the Uncommon Woman who took deep breaths…..lots of them.

Wow.  WoW.  WOW.  wow.

I immediately thought of when I had just yelled at my daughter for bringing home the wrong science project materials.  Here’s how it went down.

drop the guilt – drop the judgement….. let’s learn here.

It was a crazy week.  My husband was out-of-town and I was in charge of much more than usual….including a science project that was due on Friday and we were going to finish it Thursday night.  I was late picking them up from school and then in long traffic getting home due to an accident.  When we finally made it home, instead of making dinner I ordered pizza.  Then I said let’s get this project done!  She said, Ummmmm Mom, I brought the wrong folder home.

YOU WHAT????

Fill in the blanks…but we called to cancel the pizza order which could not be cancelled but could be delayed – whatever! – and headed back to the school to get the papers.  It is late.  I am tired.  She’s crying and I about to cry.

I held her hand and I looked into her eyes and I said I’m so sorry.  I should never yell at you.  I apologize.  Please forgive me.  She said I forgive you Mom!  Pizza and glue ended on a good note that night…. but it lingered still.

~the guilt~

Imagine the difference if I had just taken a deep breath…. maybe a “leave the room briefly and pray” kind of breath.   Note to self:   Breathe.  Take a deep breath and leave the room, and pray and drive around the block, and dance to loud music… before you yell.  Ever.  It’s convicting me.

What if my kids never overheard me saying bad things about people?  Only to see me smile and high-five them later?  It’s convicting me.

What if my kids saw me as a woman who loved Jesus first.  Then her family. Then others.  It’s convicting me.

What if they see me doing things that I am not capable of without Him?  What if I acknowledge Him in all things?  What if I give Him Glory out loud daily and cry out for His provision and strength daily?  It’s convicting me.

What are my priorities in life?   Is my body, or how I look, what I drive, where I go, who I am friends with,  what I do in my free time?  Is it my phone?  Is it Facebook?  It’s convicting me.

What do I want my children to see as my priorities in life?  Jesus.  My Marriage. My Kids.  Family.  Loving others.  Helping others.  Encouraging others.

What needs tweaking?

hmmmm.  Lots!  And that is where grace comes in.  Guilt will spiral me off of the road to peace faster than anything.  Here are the facts.  I am a mess (sinner).  Messy people (sinners) make messes.  It’s not that I won’t make a mess (sin).  I will!  Over and over!!

BUT!!!

How will I respond?  That’s what my kids will witness.  That is what they remember.  That is what they will follow.  That is what will shape them.  That’s what will help them to choose.  That’s how they will embrace their mess.

Let it be an overwhelming need in me to always depend on my mind-boggling Savior!

I have three little gifts watching me clean up my spills.  Some wipe away quick like a dry erase with little imprint.  Some become permanent stains that are hard to forget.  All of my spills are shaping my kids.  All of my spills are showing them what is important in life.  All of my spills may someday become their spills.

Let’s be uncommon women who take deep breaths together.  Sometimes many.  Let’s embrace our spills and lovingly drop to our knees for each other and pray as we help each other to clean up our spills.

Let’s Breathe. Over and over. Deep. Together.

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.  1 Thessalonians 5:10-13 MSG 

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