Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ladies who Lunch

   I signed up for the ladies brunch at our church without knowing basically anything about it.   I signed myself up and offered for Sister to work with the GA's.  I had no idea what I was doing, but let me tell you, I'm SO glad that I did it!  
   Apparently the traditions of the Womens brunch began at Biltmore Baptist, another big church in our area for those who are not familiar with it.  Somehow it changed hands and trickled down to French Broad, but there were lots of Biltmore Baptist members in attendance, so they are still coming :)  The brunch consists of tables being decorated and hosted by ladies of the church.  The tables were amazing..  they all held the particular taste of each hostess, and it was SO much fun looking at all of the tables!!

 Sister is a part of the GA's (Girls in Action) at the church, it is a girls bible study group that meets on Wednesdays.  She LOVES this group!  they also do a lot of service activities, and this was one for them to work.  They helped seat the ladies as they came into the room, distribute door prizes, and then they got to sit in a seat, get a hostess gift and enjoy the food and the speaker!  She really enjoyed it! Bella along with three other youth group members kept the younger kids in the nursery while their Mommies or grandma's enjoyed the brunch.  It was wonderful!
 A few of our GA's with Ms. Amelia.   they actually have a really big group of about 14 little girls lol, but we only had a few available this weekend.  Glad Sister got to experience it!  

 We all had assigned seating, and half of the ladies at our table were new to me, from Biltmore Baptist, and were wonderful people!  The two ladies to the right and left front of the camera attend French Broad, Ms. Liza is Hero's teacher and Ms. Toni is in my Sunday school class, both of whom I really enjoyed spending the brunch talking too!
 And just a decorative pic of the beautiful table Liza decorated for us!

   The speaker spoke about Smiling toward the future, as the proverbs 31 woman did.  I thought it was very encouraging... so often we allow life to just bog us down and be so heavy for us that we forget that we are the light of this world...  but we truthfully should remember this.  Just because things are going hard for us, doesn't mean the whole world has to be brought down because of it.  We have so many blessings ahead of us, especially the blessing of our eternal salvation..  so there's no reason not to smile.
   She also spoke a lot about anxiety, which is something I've really struggled a lot about lately.  Not really having more than I usually do and always have (which is a lot), but about making it somehow manageable.  It's felt really unmanagable and out of control my whole life...  so its nice to have someone speak about it on a biblical standpoint.  Anxiety in itself is honestly worry about what *could* happen..  whether it be social anxiety or anxiety about your kids..  its just more intense...  and feels awful.  However not being anxious is something that the bible specifically talks about.  It's something I'm working on..  perhaps I can share more when I've wrapped my mind around it a little better...
   However, the brunch was amazing, and I'm SO glad that I went.  Its something awesome when you decide to stop being so anxious and start stepping back and putting yourself out there!  It was amazing!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Woman Without the Phone

Have you seen this posted yet?  Today was the first time I had seen it...Woman Without Iphone.
  A few years ago I wrote the post, What I gained when I lost my smartphone.  After a couple of years battling with the thought of missing out on my life while I was glued to a screen, I kicked my smartphone to the curb in exchange for one of those little clamshell numbers with a fold out keyboard.  I loved that phone.  I loved that moment in my life.  It was so liberating that I honestly even loved the way that it sounded when I got a text message.  Literally, when I hear that sound in home videos it makes me smile, because living without the smartphone was an amazing time of my life, and it taught me so much more about being content in life.
   I honestly didn't have a smartphone at all until around this time last year.  The house we lived in had a huge garden tub...  it had the jets and it was nothing short of amazing.  I can remember fondly all of those times laying in the tub for maybe an hour or more reading Wuthering Heights again.  One evening however, the phone plunged down into the water, and emerged somehow still working, but glitchy.  When faced with getting a smartphone or paying the same amount for a basic phone, I went with the smartphone option.
   I am glad that I did, because now that we live in a new place the smartphone has been my saving grace.  Call me crazy for having that crutch, but its comforting to know that when my daughter has a dance class in a part of town I'm umfamiliar with, I have that to tell me where to go.  The gps has been my comfort in getting to know a new place, and I'm very thankful I made the choice to return to the world of the smartphone.  I recently needed an upgrade and ended up with a newer Iphone..  and that has been even better.  The group text message with my two sisters who are also Iphone users is one of my most treasured moments of the days...  some of my best laughs.  I Love sharing photos with my family back at home, and vidoes..  espeically since they don't get to see my kids everyday.  In those ways, my smartphone has made my life more connected.  A text with a picture...  just checking in really quick...  making sure my sister is okay since her home town is in the area of the storms.  All of these things have made my life good because of a smartphone, and for that I'm thankful.
   However, there are times that I don't really enjoy my smartphone all that much...  and those are the things I'm currently working on...
    I snapped a photo of the little dancing X's when I deleted instagram from my phone.  The one app that inevitably keeps me checking the screen.  Perhaps moreso than facebook ever did- Instagram had the power to keep me looking- to keep me coming back, like checking the refrigerator again and again knowing that the same things are going to be in there as they were when you checked only moments ago.  It's one way to share photos with friends and family, but sending it through a private text- although arguably still inpersonal...  is just more intentional than putting it on a semi-public board for everyone to see.  I catch myself taking photos just to post on instagram, and to me that feels too much like living for the sake of sharing.  Sure, I know what most of my friends are up too..  and its fun seeing some of my favorite celebrities in their daily life...  but was that moment truly worth the moments that I gave up in order to do that?  Was spending some moments staring at my screen fragmenting my day so much that it was making it more difficult to focus on what was right in front of me?  The moments that were honestly far too precious for social media..  that seemed commonplace after using them solely for that purpose?
Little Hero, his favorite jacket, and Hulk..  on a rare fall day at the playground...  he will never be on this playground, in this moment, at three years old ever again...  

    Friends, none of this, breaking from social media is easy for me.  Especially since I truly have been so involved in media as of late.  I find myself randomly thinking about someone I had been keeping up with, and needing to know, right that moment, how they are doing.  I find that sometimes throughout the day I reach for my phone and stare blankly at the screen, just out of habit and needing someway, somehow to 'disconnect' from reality for a moment.  Needing to 'vege out' if you will.  Yet it seems that every moment of every day that passes without checking on social media- although my circle gets smaller and my whole world seems to be on a smaller scale- life seems more vibrant.  More special.  More immediate and awesome- just because I gave to it my presence.  
   I do feel left out.  So many times a day.  Facebook sounds from the phones of my family members ring and I feel like they are a part of a world that I am not.  They want to tell me jokes or show me videos..  something that they have seen on facebook and need to share with me, but can't share on the social network.  Yet time and time again, I am reminded of why I'm doing this.  So often lately I've heard someone speak on something as if it were absolute truth- and remember an article that said the same thing shared on facebook.  I remember hearing a joke that was in someones status message- hearing someone sing a song that was shared on another's profile photo..  and I am reminded that this world of social media is not something to be taken lightly.  I realize that if we allow it to be, it is so integrated into our lives that it is most certainly a piece of us.  We should take that as seriously as someone in our social circle..  or where we work or attend church or where our kids go to school.  If social media has became a part of who we are, its more than just a moment on a computer, or a status message or photo posted...  it is something that we should pray about and learn to regulate in our lives.  It should be something we ask God to help us navigate.  I've seen so many people who want to put God in a box and only allow him into some parts of their lives...  and pretend as if they are 'too cool' to be affecfted by social media.  If it takes up a moderate amount of your thoughts, then it should be something God should be intertwined into deeply and intentionally.  Not something that we take so very lightly, and can't understand why others are so convicted by it.  

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

   When I allowed God to walk with me through my facebook use he showed me the things it was bringing out in me, and they were not good things.    Being discontent with my life because it was not comparable to others.  I found myself becoming a busybody, a 'need to know' things about other people's lives, and when I took an honest account of the things I did know about people solely because of facebook, I found that most I did know was not any of my business to know in the first place.  I found that there was more for me to pray about, but that I had less time to pray.  I was distracted in my prayer time, and prayer request time had became some form of gossip within itself.  I found that I was becoming more anxious, and more distracted.  More than anything though, I found that in accumulating all of these new 'relationships' really held the closer ones at bay.  I wasn't spending as much time just focusing on the people in my living room- much less the people who are honestly the best and closest people in my life.  
   The last day that I was on facebook I took the time to get contact information for people who I was the closest too.  I wrote them down, and prayed that God would help me to keep in contact with these people outside of the world of social networking.  Today I took some small cards and wrote out four hand written letters, and smiled as I put them in the mailbox.  Those are a personal touch like no other.  If nothing else, they will know that the time I took for them was more than just a moment, staring at a screen while I was waiting in the car for my husband to get out of the grocery store...  those were moments where I prayed, laughed, smiled, and really gave them some feeling, something that I haven't done in a long time, even in emails...  but especially in facebook messages.  

    So as I retire for the evening, I pray that my words have helped someone in their walk, bet it to change their thought process on social media or just to encourage someone out there who is struggling as I did.  This is the first week of a new way of living for me, so I hope you will remember me in your prayers!  Also, take some time today just to put the phone down, look at someone you love- really, really look at them...  and remember how it feels to look at them in person, not from the other side of a screen.   Life is better when nobody else is looking.  Be the woman without the phone.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Let them be children

   Brother is my early riser.  It's really hard for me to get out of bed before he does...  but I love it when he gets up.  I'm usually sitting in my chair by that time, bundled in a blanket and kindle in hand.  He comes into the living room, and he's sooooo affectionate.  He smiles so sweetly, and tells me good morning like just seeing me brightens his day.  I hope it does..  because just seeing him does mine...

 He cuddles with me and I wrap my blanket around him..  but he stirs quickly, as little boys do.  He loves to read books, so sometimes he climbs into our reading nook with his piles upon piles of Berenstain Bears and Pigeon books.  Other times he chooses a box out of his room filled with some of his favorite toys and brings those onto the table to play.  He plays, quietly for him..  and he thinks, and its one of the rare times we are alone so he can talk to me about what is on his mind and his heart.

 The other morning as I was getting back into my devotion, I heard his voice crack, almost in tears.  I looked up and asked what was wrong...   I gathered my boy, now with tears filling his beautiful brown eyes into my lap and rubbed his back, since that is his favorite..  and he answered...

   "I'm wild.  I'll never get rid of my wild."  He said through little tears.  My heart broke.  I prayed..  what could I say?  His words had brought the strongest conviction my heart could bear.
   "Sweetheart..." I said, opening my heart to Gods words...  "You are Gods warrior.  God never made boys to be quiet and calm all the time.  God put the heart of a warrior in you, so its okay if sometimes you are wild.  God made boys a little wild."  He smiled.
   All the times I told him, "calm down."  Not because he was being too overly loud, or hurting anyone..  just because I expect him to be more like me.  More clam, more reserved.  God knew what he was doing when he put the six of us in this apartment.  He knew that we would come to know one another so intimately, and come to learn to live together, on one house, with so many different needs, hearts and desires.  He knew that Mama was reserved, introverted and calm..  and that Brother bear was a little wild..  and that somehow those two kinds of people exist everywhere in the world, everywhere in our churches, in our communities..  in our classrooms, and will exist in eternity.  And by my sweet boy's morning musings, he showed me his heart..  and taught me its okay that he is a 'little wild'.
   Let them be children.. let them be a little wild.  After all, all the best things in life are....

My dear sweet little boy..  your Mommy, and Your Heavenly Father who created you love you, exactly the way that you are...  never forget that...  my sunshine.

A Hidden Year....

Friends, I will tell you that life lived when not a single person is looking is quite different than this online world. Things move a lot slower, quieter, and more simply. Days are longer, we speak softer, and somehow all those lost minutes of the day come together to form an extra hour or two to focus on the things that really matter. -

   It was 2012 when I first read those words...  and they really changed a lot in my life in that moment.  My life in 2012 looked very different than the life I am living today.  Sawyer was not even born yet...  my other three children were four years younger than they are today.  I lived in a house I thought I'd always live in, in the town I had grown up in...  I imagined growing old in that little house, with my husband carrying on the same job my Dad had all of my childhood.  My heart was beginning to wrap its way around the idea of homeschooling, and what that would mean for the life of my family.  We had finally became dedicated in a little church down the road, one I had passed thousands of times in my life.  Compared to what we live today, our world seemed so very small.  I can't say I didn't love that life, and if I would have always lived that life I would not have been happy..  but Gods plans were so much bigger than mine ever were.  
   I would not have imagined having another baby.  I never would have even dreamt of being here, at a Bible college on campus in a town I had never even visited or heard of before.  I only wished that my husband could love God so much, and I could never in a million years have seen all of the wonderful things God was going to do with my marriage, my kids, just...  how he was about to take our lives and shake it up, and place us in a place called His will, where we would experience more peace, blessings, and joy than we ever had before in our lifetimes.  No- in 2012 I never would have imagined all of this coming to pass...  but I can say it was the first time in my life I actually stopped to think..  what if...

   What if... its okay to shift from the expected path.
   What if...  it's okay to turn and walk in a different direction than the rest of the crowd.
   What if... there's more to life than what meets the eye?
   What if...  we were bold enough to take on something that others deemed foolish, reckless, or simply just plain silly- what if it did dramatically change our lives??

   I jumped off the social bandwagon that day in 2012.  I deleted my facebook.  It was monumental.  I had thousands of friends.  I ran a photography business that basically lived and breathed because of facebook.  I had people scheduling appointments left and right.  I did 12 weddings my first year of business.  In the local paper I was voted "Best Photography Studio".  I lived and breathed to type my email address into the little blue box and escape all of the stress that reality brought.  To step out of the frumpy Mommy fighting with her kids who just spilled another juice on the carpet..  to the celebrated photographer whom everyone loved.  I got to go from a world with lots of objection, fussing and fighting, to a world where everyone "liked" me, or at least clicked on a button and pretended too.  Where the only face that anyone could see was a carefully cropped photo on the one day I had a good hair day.  Where my thoughts and my feelings could be carefully scripted rather than just poured out from a heart that was tired and beat.  To a world where people saw what I wanted them to see, knew what I wanted them to know, and believed what I wanted them to believe.  That world was my comfort, and it made me happy- at least that was what I believed it to do.  And deleting that world felt like pulling the rug out from under me...  but it absolutely rocked my whole existence.  
    I remember shortly after my I deleted facebook my husband took our little family on a vacation.  A mini vacation to a cute little tourist town a couple hours from our home.  I remember giggling and thinking..  Nobody knows I'm here!  I remember thinking that normally I would have shared a status update..  something along the lines of "Mini vacay!  Best hubby ever!!"  And saw the comments and likes pour in.  That trip was absolutely groundbreaking in soo many ways.  
   As I sat on the side of the kiddie pool and watched my little boy splash around and smile, I realized I wasn't taking pictures of him.  I wasn't sharing them on social media.  I wasn't taking time to look and see if anybody liked them.  I remembered spending part of my honeymoon sitting on the bed adding my wedding photos to facebook. I remembered the days I spent posing baby Callie on my couch in whatever new outfit she had so I could post those pictures as well.  I remembered our trip to Disney when the kids were much smaller, and each night as my Mom danced and laughed with them, I sat on the bed, editing and uploading pictures.  It wasn't that I was bragging, that I wanted anyone to feel jealous.  I just felt like it was the normal thing to do..  you live, and you share.  But had it became so much of who I was that I lived to share?  That to me was a scary thought.  
   The initial break from social networking did completely change the way that I used social networking from that point forward in my life.  I believe I was gone for about six months.  Upon returning, I was far more careful about what I posted.  I didn't share as much.  I didn't tag as many people.  I didn't upload as many photos or add as many friends.  I was far more careful and far more aware of the fact that we must live a life that is private as well as one that is public, and I was a very different, more healthy of a facebook user.  It was good for awhile, but then it started to feel...  different.  Like something that was invading my happiness.  Somehow I allowed myself, time and time again, to get wrapped around facebooks fingers.  Once I did, my carefree attitude flew away.  It started to 'get to me'.  I started to become entangled in its world..  sharing everything again.  Adding everyone again.  It was almost like not being able to eat just one...  it was addicting and a wasteful way to spend my time.  Yet, I liked it.  It still felt good to have that world where everything in my life seemed perfect.  Still, it was a way to portray myself in a way that I liked, that others 'liked', and that I was comfortable with.  So time and time again, deleting and reactivating..  I came back.  Unsure of whether or not I really had issues with facebook, or just issues with life that I was working through in a very public way.  
  And here, my friends is the honest truth.  I still don't have the answer to that..  but I really, truthfully want to find it.
  Sometimes it feels as if for me perhaps social networking has just outlived its gusto.  Sometimes I just feel like I get so overwhelmed with life I need that 'mental break' that facebook can offer, where I can get caught up in someone else's life for a change.  Sometimes I feel like I just need to connect with someone- and then other times I think if my connection with someone is as superficial as an Internet message, I am better off without it.  Sometimes I like to share photos with family members I don't see often..  and then other times I like better to see them on holidays and letting them smile and laugh at how big my kids have grown from what they remember of them.  
   Truthfully- I honestly do not know if social media is a problem, or just something to blame other problems on.  Sometimes it feels monumentally important, and other times it seems so silly that I even put so much thought into it.  
   So, I want to find out. 
   This weekend at a Ladies brunch at our church, a speaker mentioned that if we would look at our life from a year ago just to see how much we had grown spiritually we would be surprised.  I very much was.  I have grown leaps and bounds in a years time.  That in itself is encouraging.  It's hard sometimes to see a change until you change your perspective.  From a distance, from the front looking back- it looks so different.  It makes me excited to look forward to what it would look like a year from today!  The other day as I was reading my mind wandered to ponder that very thought..  and I decided a year from today I wanted to be very changed.  I wanted to be very different, and the difference that I wanted to have was an easy answer.  
   I want to know.  
   I want a definitive answer on whether or not social media is something that is meaningful and necessary in my life, or if I'm honestly just better off without it.

   For a year.

   That seems a lot.
   I've been on and off again on social media..  but never for so long.  Never for an entire year.  I've bounced back and forth between facebook and instagram..  occasionally twitter but I couldn't really stomach that form of social media for very long..  but always, always facebook or instagram.  I have friends who really get irritated with me when I send them a friend request, (which makes me question why social media is such a 'big deal' in their life?  Is it really such an inconvenience for them to click a button?  I've never understood how it angers some?  It would be interesting to know...)  as if facebook is something of a social security card, that you should be assigned one and stick with it, without ever changing course.  Yes, I have a very on-again, off-again relationship with social media, and I've always truthfully been okay with just deleting it when it didn't serve its purpose anymore..  but not only do I think its time for a long break, I think its high time I took that long break, and shared my heart on the matter.
   I have so much more to say- but a whole year to say it!  So I won't pour too much into this one entry.  Yet I hope this perhaps will shed light to those who again are sitting around thinking..  well she's gone, again?  To those nay-sayers who never imagine their life without a social network..  and hopefully I will grow in the process.  
    So one day in the following days, you will return to facebook or instagram and see me gone again..  but this time, you will know where to find me.  This time, if it enlightens you to do so, you can journey with me through this year, this year hidden away from timelines and instagrams.  If not..  I suppose I'll see you in a year!  Maybe!  

Lots and lots of love,