Embraced

Cross

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37 (MSG)

I longed to hug my kids.  We were picking them up from a week-long camp at Lake Waccamaw in NC. We had not talked to them all week, and we could not wait to hear all about it at Family night.

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Drawing near to Him

Draw near to God

{This post was written on July 2, 2014}

God is pursuing my daughter, and in that process he is tenderly pulling me closer to Him too… more and more. It warms my heart to see her drawing near to Him, and it stirs something in me.

Prayer

Just recently on a Friday night we walked in from a long day at work and collapsed on the couches. My husband was on one couch watching sports, and I was on the other couch lost in the glow of my screen. At about 7:30pm, the kids were asking if we planned to eat anytime soon.   So, we finally got up and said, “Yes, and it is a surprise!”

It really was a surprise, because we had no plan. At all.

As we were getting up to put on shoes, they all ran downstairs with blindfolds on awaiting the sweet reveal.

My husband and I smiled and went with it.  It’s Friday night surprise – who knows where we will end up?Friday Night Surprise!

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Eclipse

Let light shine!

As yellow changed to red, I had a moment with God in the pause.  I was gripping the steering wheel belting out lyrics from Bonnie Tyler:

 “Once upon a time there was light in my life

But now there’s only love in the dark

Nothing I can say

A total eclipse of the heart”

I was trying to hold back the tears as I sang. It took me back. It was as if an old best friend jumped in the front seat with me and said, “Remember? I was there!”

When no one knew my secrets and no one knew my shame, Music found me. Songs allowed me to whisper words that related to my very dark struggle. I would watch MTV and VH1 all the time, and this was back when they actually played videos and had images to go along with the words. I would record songs from the radio on cassettes and play them over and over, writing out their lyrics and memorizing their words. #onRepeat took a lot of effort back then! Song lyrics gave me words that were hard to find for my pain.

No one talked about sexual abuse. It wasn’t talked about in church, or even in school. I knew about stranger danger…. but sexual abuse? No!  I didn’t even know the words existed. I simply believed, “Something is wrong with me.”

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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.

Deactivate

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?