Burn Out vs. Everlasting Light

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I’m burned out again on man-made things, the light of screens that trigger something in my brain or my self-esteem and keep me up at night thinking, thinking, thinking, spinning in mental circles, striving in thought, my imagination making up new ways I’m lacking or overlooked.

For all the good in my social media (picture social justice insights, ways to simplify my life, happy news about a friend’s cancer going into remission, and video footage of my brother rocking out to a radio fanny pack), time spent there often clouds my life with problems in the world that I can’t fix, arguments I can’t win, prolific peers I wish I could keep up with, circles where I’m not invited, and, yes, time-consuming cat pictures.

Man-made screens. Man-made light. Man-made overload. Man-made problems.

I remember years ago dragging my feet toward the car in my university parking lot in downtown Indianapolis, frustrated both about the foreign language class I’d just finished and about a failing romantic relationship. Just then, in interruption to my pity party, I heard a crackling sound over my head. Continue reading

A Teen and a Tech Intervention…plus a giveaway! {A Less Digital Life…Day 29}

Today, I’m privileged to have writer and speaker, Marybeth Hicks share her creative ideas for guiding her teenagers in getting the most out of technology without it getting the best of them. She writes a weekly column for The Washington Times and has written three books on parenting. Her upcoming book, Teachable Moments, represented by my literary agent husband, comes out next summer and is full of encouragement for parents who want to foster deep personal connections while navigating the murky waters of the digital life. You can find Marybeth at her blog and on Twitter. See below for your chance to win a copy of Marybeth’s book, The Perfect World Inside My Minivan.

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I feel a little hypocritical writing a post about living a less digital life. I’m not exactly a role model for the low-tech movement.

I sometimes answer work emails in the bathroom.

I use an e-version of a Novena prayer book on my phone to pray the rosary. Continue reading

Google Balloons and the Gospel {A Less Digital Life…Day 20}

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We walked into our friend’s office downcast at the news of another scuffle in the Middle East. When we asked whether he’d be canceling his upcoming ministry trip there, his eyes sparkled. We had looked at the situation from the exterior. He had seen it from the heart, he himself a native of the region. What this meant, he told us, was that people were becoming disenchanted with the way of their upbringing and were starting to search for truth.

We aren’t the only ones thinking of the global community. When my brother got hired at Google last year, I jokingly told him that it was his first step in trying to take over the world like Pinky and the Brain, his favorite cartoon as a kid. But in actuality, Google’s Project Loon description reads like a humanitarian missions pamphlet at an evangelical church: “Two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access,” and these Internet balloons are “designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

Sounds kind, but I’m bothered. What will become of us when there is no place with spotty Internet, no place to get away from the Internet altogether, when there is no cabin or lake house or country home that can truly be off the grid? If our only option for restful retreat is our own willpower to keep from turning on our devices, we may be toast. And maybe Facebook makes us all feel a little famous, but do we really want things hovering over us, sending signals here and there, maybe someday taking pictures of our houses even more invasive than the Google truck cams, polluting our privacy and never letting us be truly alone?

But before I get completely curmudgeony, my husband speaks up. When the world wide web truly becomes world wide, when those in rural and remote areas have access to the Internet, they can read or hear the Good News for themselves, a testimony to all ethnicities. Maybe the bad keeps getting worse, but the good keeps getting better all the same. My husband’s words, like our Middle Eastern friend’s view on the troubles of the world, keep me looking up…past the balloons. I’m reminded that technology isn’t going to tie up all the loose ends of humanity’s story, the Gospel is.

Here’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Go outside. Look up past the airplane trails and focus on handmade heaven.

 

 

{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

No Sugar Crash {A Less Digital Life…Day 15}

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I’d been putting off the week’s trip to the grocery…didn’t want to take the kids, but too tired to go late night. One morning I went to the half-bare pantry and settled on what was left for breakfast…carb-heavy, sugared-up CoCo Wheats. It tastes like childhood, the glory days of processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup, the days before we had a clue that Twinkies were bad for you.

Within an hour, I felt more tired than I did when I woke up. The pillow invited me back to sleep off that sugar crash. But I had kids to take care of, so I muddled through, sighing and shouting out when the sugar got to them too.

All day long, the smart phone is on the kitchen counter waiting on that buzz and chime. And aren’t I eating out of Pavlov’s hand with the way I go for it? The screen glows and so do I to pick up a little morsel of words.

Psychologists say infants need ready response to sense they are known and loved, even to feel they exist. You and me? Seconds after we walk away from the screen, we’re hungry again for something else, cluster feeders crying out to the world, tell me I exist to you.

Always on the buffet sits the story I’ve been taking in all my life, milk to meat. Page corners turn up like wavy noodles. By then, we had been flipping through this anthology during meals for five years, words nourishing my boy from babyhood to school age, us reading straight through from cover to middle. That day on page 943 of 1694, we found ourselves listening in on the strangest of dinner conversations.

There was this hand outstretched like a platter and it held a scroll. Eat what you’re offered. Eat this book. We laughed at the menu choice, but Ezekiel didn’t. He opened his mouth right up and swallowed it down like manna straight from the hand of God. It tasted like raw honey.

I didn’t have to explain it. Elliot dished out the exegesis. Ezekiel had to eat the words so God’s words would be inside him. Then he could say God’s words.

I’d done this before and I needed to do it again if I wanted to give up the sighing and shortness and instead give out words full of grace and truth. I needed to lay my Bible open on the kitchen counter like a cookbook, to check it more than social media, to let the soul feed and feel its worth, to taste and see that the Lord is good…all day long, no sugar crash.

Here’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Lay open your Bible on the cookbook stand. Read and savor.

 

 

{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

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Out the Nursery Window {A Less Digital Life…Day 14}

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It was a sad sight–where there used to be a Barnes & Noble sign, there was now a grotesque orange font with a smiley-faced jack-o-lantern inviting us into the pop-up Halloween City. The sign advertising kids costumes lured us in. We fell for it. Maybe they’d have the Peter Pan costume we’d been looking for all over town. We’re not real keen on skeletons and ghosts, but we do let the kids dress in tasteful costumes and even enjoy an old legend or two.

No luck in that store either, but while our little Tiger Lily checked the infant section for a Tinkerbell costume for baby sister, big brother wandered off. When he came back he seemed out of breath. He covered his mouth and squinted his eyes as if caught in mid-flinch. He gulped back tears and pulled his daddy over to the sight of Continue reading