I just started reading a new book, “Calm, Cool and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life” by Arlene Pellicane. The first chapter asked the question “do you find it difficult to sit through church without touching your phone?” I said, “YES!!!” My first thought was, of course I touch my phone I use my Bible app. Then I remembered something, I own a physical Bible. Actually, I own several. A big fat study Bible. A pocket Bible. My trimline Bible in a case with a carrying handle. And many more. I decided to bring my trimline Bible on Sunday morning. What a concept!
As the sermon began, I pulled out my phone. I did use it to download the pastor’s notes. (They actually use a QR code to get the sermon notes/fill-ins.) After writing in the fill-ins, I put my phone back into my purse and zipped it shut. Did I pay more attention? Yes. Did I feel a need to look at my phone? Yes. Did I give into the temptation? Nope. It liked following along in my Bible rather than the scripture on the screen overhead or on my phone. Also, I made some notes in my Bible too. I haven’t done that in ….. no clue how long. I liked the feel of the Bible in my hand as I walked in and out of the church. I used the pocket on the Bible cover to hold my sermon notes and pen. I found I was more connected to the entire morning by this small change.
Is there anything wrong with using the Bible app on your phone? Not at all. For me, I don’t stay on that app though. I wander to my emails, text messages and Facebook. As the hymn says, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it.” I felt it. The sermon is only 30-45 minutes. I used to be able to focus that long. I want to regain that attention span in my life. Will my thoughts wander like my fingers to a new app? Probably. Can I refocus them and retrain my brain? Yes. You see, I like our pastor and his teaching. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to write in my Bible. So I’m going to be old school for a while and keep my phone zipped in my purse.
If you find yourself answering the question “do you find it difficult to sit through church without touching your phone?” with a resounding YES as I did, try for a tech free Sunday. See if you can regain your 45 minute attention span. I think it will inspire you. It did me.
What else is there to write about today? I have to acknowledge the eclipse. I couldn’t wait to put on the glasses I got from a kind woman at church who works at JPL. I even had my son make a box viewer too, just in case. Unfortunately, the kids were at school and I was home alone. I even put the dog in the house since my daughter told me if they look at it they will go blind. I’m not sure that Cooper would look at it since we didn’t get totality but just in case.
I must say, the eclipse was cool. Watching it alone, not so cool. I talked to my dad on the phone before it started to make sure he had eye protection and reminded him how to make a box viewer. I posted on Facebook to see who else may be watching out there. A few replied. I enjoyed all of the posts of fabulous pictures people took. The photos of people in goofy eclipse glasses were a hoot. However, it didn’t satisfy my need to share this cool thing with someone else.
No matter how much we share on Facebook, face-to-face isn’t replaceable. It just isn’t. As humans we were made for relationship. God created us with a deep desire to connect. His hope is that we would have a relationship with Him first and foremost, but also with His people. There is no substitute. I prefer life shared. Facebook doesn’t count. (Even though I loved the comments from friends when I posted I was a nerd today.)
What events do you have coming up that you want to share with a friend? A birthday. A significant anniversary. You don’t need a big event like an eclipse to gather or connect. How about sharing a coupon for “buy one get one free” at Chipotle? Why not ask a friend to accompany you to a doctor’s appointment you are worried about. Plan to meet at Costco while you tackle your restocking for the school year. Don’t wait until 2024, the next total eclipse in the U.S.A., to plan a gathering. Connect face-to-face today.
P.S. I missed you. I hope to be back weekly on Mondays.
Last week was a blog I wanted to write. I often get ideas in church, at a coffee shop, listening to music, driving, and pretty much anywhere. I jot them down. I liked the blog. I love the hymn and I appreciate the comments. The truth is, it was a filler blog.
You see I struggle as a new blogger with balance. How much of me do I put out for the world to see? How much of my family do I put out there? I don’t even post pictures of my kids on Facebook without their permission. I respect their privacy.
Since summer started, we have been battling a health issue with one of my kids. It’s treatable, fixable and we are grateful for the team walking us through this. My guess is that my friends who follow my blog and knew of our situation, were surprised I didn’t blog about it. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know the right balance. I wasn’t sure I wanted the big world-wide web to know all my stuff. I honestly am an open book if it’s just about me, but this involves my daughter. So what is the right balance between openness in my blog and protecting the privacy of my family and friends?
I have no idea.
So we learn together. This week you get a piece of our family struggle. Not the whole process but a piece. Because, I’m still processing it and I want to protect privacy. The piece I can share comfortably is that this is hard. To watch my child be sick and fatigued when we should be swimming or at the beach, is hard. I know we will get beach time later but it’s disappointing to delay. As her energy returns, we will start to venture out. I have had days where I have all the energy to play board games, do puzzles and encourage indoor fun. Other days, I just wanna veg in front of Netflix. Some days I am optimistic. Other days I’m frustrated and discouraged. Both times, I am turning to God. I have learned in this process of an interrupted summer that I need Him daily. Remember my blog on discipleship? It was foreshadowing. I understand more clearly the process of daily picking up my cross and following Him. If I don’t, I crumble and face fatigue. With Him, I have hope and energy.
Friends, as we share life with one another – via blog or in person – find balance. Share a bit of yourself more and more with those you know. When you see it’s safe, share more. If it’s not safe, hold a bit back. Balance. It isn’t always black and white. Not all or nothing. Balance isn’t even 2 for you and 2 for me. It may be 4 for you and 2 for me. It depends on who we are and our relationship. Today I trust you, my friends and readers a bit more. I am excited to see where my journey leads with you. When I tip the scale too far, let me know. If I sense it’s out of balance, my blogs with reflect that. And once in a while, you will get a filler blog – an interesting moment of my life that touched my heart but isn’t what I’m dealing with today. I hope you are OK with that. It feels like balance to me.
Are you a hymn lover? I love to sing but not all hymns are easy tunes or enjoyable. However, the words are powerful truths. I heard a new hymn to me the other Sunday at church – “Take Time to Be Holy” by William D. Longstaff. Here are the words that spoke to me.
- Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
- Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
- Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
- Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
It made me think of my discipleship challenge to be with God daily. This hymn taught me a few key themes for my life of holiness:
- Abide in Him – speak often with God, feed on His Word, spend much time in secret with Jesus, be calm in my soul
- Trust in Him – don’t run ahead of Him, follow Him in joy or sorrow, trust His Word, give each thought and motive to His control.
This simple hymn is just as powerful in 2017 as when it was written in 1882. I struggled with the tune when we sang it. I struggled too with what the song asked of me. I have been challenged to stay in His Word and with Him daily. I hope you are finding that time this summer. It’s a great thing to strive for.
I like to win. I hate to lose. That’s just a part of who I am. I took the Gallop Strengths Finder test a few years ago and found out that Competition is considered one of my top 5 strengths. I have never seen competition as a strength. I struggle when I lose and on occasion have been a poor sport. Upon winning, I have been known to perform a dance and chant that would rival many professional football players in the end zone.
When my kids were young, I had to constantly tell myself “it’s OK to lose. They are only 3 years old.” I literally used self-talk to back off from beating them at Candyland or Hi Ho Cherrio. (For those of you gasping, obviously Competition isn’t one of your strengths/struggles.) I had to learn to lose to my toddlers. When they started learning strategy and skills, I let myself have a bit of fun and fully engage in games again. Now, they legit beat me at Clue, Monopoly, and card games. We just got a ping pong table and I’m already at a disadvantage. They are good athletes and took to the game quickly. My killer serve is easily returned. Ugh. We are a game playing family.
I have come to learn that my Competition strength leads me to excel and strive for excellence in all areas of my life. It is definitely a good thing. However, when it comes to playing games as a family, my unhealthy need to win often rears its ugly head. I see this same need in my middle daughter. She is a true competitor. She rarely loses, even in games of chance. She and I can have a nice time playing games until one of us snaps because we lost one too many. We both have had times where an apology was necessary.
Why do I write about this today? Because I want to encourage you to dust off an old board game and enjoy time with your family. If you are a family of one, invite friends over for an old-fashioned game night. If you are empty nesters, dust off those Yahtzee dice and turn off Wheel of Fortune. If you have littles, try a simple game or two that fits their skill level and attention span. Laughter always surrounds board games. My daughter had 5 kids in our game of Life yesterday. So she got a 2nd car and put it on top of the other car to make a double-decker van. It’s a time for silliness and relaxing. To keep us entertained during a lull in the games, we have been playing music in the background as well. Sometimes we take a break to listen, dance or sing-a-long. (OK I do that and my kids roll their eyes.)
Enjoy the air conditioning (it’s 100 degrees where I live right now) and enjoy one another. Too hot to be outside, so relax with an old-fashioned game time. I hope you get double sixes on every roll and make it to Millionaires acres.
Yesterday’s sermon discussed what it means to be a disciple. I could regurgitate his four point outline but instead I will share what God impressed on my heart during the sermon. If I am to be a true follower of Christ (a disciple), I need to deny myself and pick up my cross daily.
Luke 9:23 NIV – Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Mark and Matthew also make a similar statement but only Luke says daily. I realized that I don’t daily dive into His word. I don’t daily deny myself. I don’t daily embrace His path for me. I don’t daily let Him lead. I don’t daily give Him first place. I don’t daily do it. I do it often. I do it more often than not but daily…that hit me hard.
The days I do deny myself and pick up my cross and follow Him, I’m good. I’m joyful. I have peace even in pain. I am connected to my source of life. I have energy to give to others. To live this way daily would be incredible and powerful.
So how do I do it daily? I don’t know. Discipline (obviously disciple and this word go hand in hand.)? Pray for help? Get an accountability partner? Find a mentor? Just do it?
All of those suggestions will help and lead to success in reaching a daily goal of being a disciple. However, some days I sleep in. Some days I watch too much TV. Some days I spend the day playing with my kids. Some days I hang out with friends. Some days I’m exhausted and go to bed early. Some days I don’t want to learn.
However, every day I check in with God. I connect with Him. I’m grateful. To live as a disciple daily, that doesn’t happen. I do want it to. My goal is to choose to be a disciple daily but I’m good with more often than not. So “more often than not” is the new goal. I can do that. Join me.
…and the living is easy. I love that song. Remember when Fantasia sang it on American Idol? Phenomenal. I digress and I just started blogging. Sorry. It’s the reality of the beginning of summertime, the living ain’t easy.
The first week is recovery from the school year. We are all tired from parties, finals, wrapping up loose ends, and saying goodbye to friends we won’t see until mid-August. Sleeping in, staying up late, and eating at off times is the norm right now. We will find out groove but first we need to recuperate.
The second week is settling into a new rhythm. Play-dates, work, summer clinics, summer school, camp, and much more, pops onto the calendar. I printed out a free calendar with blank spaces for each hour of the day from Monday through Sunday. I color coded it and entered in our summer schedule. The kids can look at it whenever they need to see what’s up. We have a busy June but pretty mellow July. Rhythm will find it’s groove.
After we settle in, then the living is easy. We adjust to being together more often. We resolve disagreements (a.k.a. arguments) as they arise. We give one another space when we notice one of us is a bit snappy. Meals are casual. Chores get done throughout the day but not at set times like the school year requires. Board games get dusted off and played. TIVO gets down to 35% storage used not the usual 89%. Music is listened to. Ping pong is played. Naps are taken (usually just by me, but I’m grateful they let me.)
Enjoy the new pace of summer. Give yourself time to settle in. In a week or two, we will be there too. I look forward to the easy living of summer. I must be getting into the swing of it since I casually put off my blog for one day. Hope to stick with Monday, but hey, it’s Summertime.