Saturday, August 15, 2015

When We Learn to Disconnect

Through observing people, I have really noticed the way technology has seemed to take over the lives of so many of our world. Whether through TV watching, Facebook/ Instagram scanning, or just surfing through the web, we are all becoming robots. 

Often times, the first things we do is reach for the phone or computer to check it as we wake up. We want to know the very latest or respond as quickly as we can. Other times, as soon as we sit down, we turn on the TV, even for background noise. I have been guilty of some of this myself. 

But it can also be so frustrating when you have company and people are staring at their phones. If you go to a restaurant, it's easy to notice how people at the tables are not conversing but busy on their phones as well. This idol we can't live without is becoming a source we need to really step back and consider. It's scary to think how addicting it is becoming to so many lives as we allow it to take over every aspect. 

It's been a learning process for me as I've had to slowly let go of things like Facebook. I've used it for the Unspeakable Joy Exchanges, which has been a great tool to get the word out. However, even my short time on there re-activating my account leads me to begin scanning everything, even just to get caught up. 

When's the last time we spent time with pure silence? When is the last time we could say that we were bored? Why do we constantly need time to have our minds controlled by technology? Are we being active enough to step beyond media to real-relationships, real-time, and real-important news? Do we really need to use the argument that we don't have time for God?

I have been guilty of shushing my children so I could "look something up" or check the latest statuses. Most of the time, those statuses aren't even important, particularly when it's someone's meal picture they've shared or their latest workout selfie. What is important is to step away and observe the every day without the technology. 

We don't watch TV during the week in our home. On the weekends, we enjoy a movie night on Saturday night. There are things I am working on for myself with media and using it less as an outlet for those moments of quiet that happen. 

I enjoy writing and blogging. It's been a great tool for me to get my words out there that I feel are necessary to share. Nonetheless, I have decided to take a major break from blogging for awhile as well as other forms of cutting back. I've decided that I will not check my phone often for texts but be more proactive in only sending them as necessary, mostly at the end of the day. I want to enjoy the day and be bored. I want to have moments where I can sit and watch the birds of the air. I want my children to have a mom who's active in their lives and not too busy looking at things online. It's time we take back our lives from this overpowering tool and find ways to use it less. 

I will miss sharing my posts on here for awhile. Thank you to those who have been supportive of my blogging and willing to encourage my writing. For now though, I am learning to live more in the moment and this is part of what I must give up in the process. 

Continue to live joyfully, my friends! I look forward to staying in touch through other ways for the time being. God bless!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Letting Go of Yesterday

As a child, I was bullied all through grade school and into high school. I had some horrific experiences of mean girls doing terrible things to me. The thing was that I was a very shy person. I often kept to myself and was the girl on the playground reading a book. I would cry coming home from school, burying my face into my pillow.

I remember in sixth grade when the lunch bell rang. It was raining outside but our room was located on the second floor. As I proceeded on my way to lunch in a building located downstairs, a girl who had for years tormented me pushed my petite body down the hard, metal stairs. I flew with speed until I reached the bottom and stood to run off to another place with my very bruised back.

After this experience, I changed schools to another one after the administration failed to do anything. Over the course of the next few years, the bullying did not end. I changed schools a few times to escape the mean girls but the bullying often followed.

When I reached my junior year of high school, things began to change for me. I took my sadness and aggression and returned it for meanness to others. My weaknesses and sins changed me to reach popularity on a level only through my careless actions. I treated others the way I was treated sometimes and not how I wanted to be treated. And it only made my feelings of acceptance in this world worse.

A friend and I would sneak off campus before school and chug down some alcohol. After school, we would attend parties and drink with the kids our age along with their older siblings. I took my savings account and emptied it on immodest clothing meant to make myself more attractive for this popular gain. But the bullying never stopped.

At this time, I attended a very wealthy, "Christian" school in town as my parents were hoping it'd be a good place for me. When I say wealthy, I mean that the kids there drove expensive cars and had super expensive clothing. I was 16, still had no driver's license yet, and either rode to school on a bus or was dropped off in my folks 1980s Subaru. Now, in reality, there is nothing wrong with these things. But being in this place, I never really fit in.

I remember one day when my mom gave me a brand new pair of Asics running shoes. As I got to school, a girl pointed me out and laughed with a group of people at how my shoes were "so ugly that they were not in style." I wanted to crawl into a hole and never emerge.

Another time, I remember taking a test in a class that was being subbed by our very principal. A boy passed a picture and very inappropriate wording about my body parts over to me. In return, I responded with cuss words. The principal intercepted the note and I was the only one who got in trouble.

As I got called into his office, the principal took his can of pencils and threw them at me. He then proceeded to tell me that since my family wasn't wealthy and that I wasn't Dutch, I wasn't much. This school was made up of wealthy, Dutch people from our community. It wasn't very Christian at all.

My parents were enraged and went to meet with the principal. He told them the very same comments. After that, my parents pulled me away from school and decided to finish out my high school years through independent study.

Things began to look up after that time. I strongly grew in my relationship with the Lord. I slowly let go of the cutting of my arms, the cigarette smoking, the drinking of large amounts of  alcohol, and groups of popular kids smoking weed. I re-committed my heart to Him and changed my ways back to the girl I started out to be at the beginning but stronger. I didn't want to be apart of that worldly life anymore. I wanted something more and this included a life seeking Jesus.

I used to think that people would judge me by the mistakes I made in my past. I used to believe that when they found out I did things like smoked pot or sliced my wrists, their opinions would change of me. They wouldn't find me as this rock solid Christian because of my many mistakes in my past.

But then it dawned on me. Only Jesus is that rock that is solid. When God laid the foundation of this earth, He created Jesus as the rock. The rest of us make up the specks of dirt scattered among the Earth. Our lives our messy and none of us have clean hands or pasts. We all make mistakes. I have since embraced that I am a reckless Christian seeking Jesus' mercy and grace.

Part of the journey of my faith included some hard times as necessary moments to get to where I am now. It's part of the growing process. God never promises for things to be easy. He never says that He doesn't give us more than we can handle. But rather, our sufferings produce perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5). Our pains and sufferings mold us into a better version of ourselves with more compassion and strength.

We don't have to hold on to our past. We don't have to live worrying about how we were then, yesterday, or even two hours ago. The moment is now and we can press forward with Jesus as our foundation. Let's live in this moment here and now!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Be thou My Vision

Psalm 105:1-5 
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; 
make known among the nations what he has done. 
Sing to him, sing praise to him; 
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Give in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 
Look to the Lord and his strength; 
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. 

There are days that pass by us with worry, fear, fatigue, and doubt. We struggle with knowing how we will make it through when we've been hit with various dilemmas that often make it hard to keep our focus. When we topple in news stories, a falling apart world, along with the struggles we witness of our friends and neighbors, we find that it's hard to know how to hold on.

But it's possible.

We must start our day with the word and put forth our every effort to live life giving praises to the King. We can rejoice in our Savior bringing the good news to the world and proclaim it to the nations. God does so many wonderful things for us each day that we just need to seek them out. Just like the psalmist David writes, "Look to the Lord and his strength, seek his face always."

Instead of focusing on the bad things happening, when we turn our negativity to a positive mindset along with giving the day over to the Lord, He will sustain us. When we lay everything out at our Savior's feet, our spirits will be lifted. We can meet with Him anytime... anywhere. He is always ready for us.

Remember God's promises to us in the Bible when the going gets tough. Consider seeking His face more and more. And when we face opposition, praise His name and think of the words to this song.

Be Thou My Vision
by Dallan Forgail

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.