What I learned on my social media break

Last month I took a bit of a social media break, and I have to tell you, it was wonderful.

For two weeks, I didn’t worry about what was happening on Facebook, or worry about posting witty status updates. For two weeks I wasn’t a slave to my email or stats. Instead, for two weeks I felt free to simply live life and enjoy it.

I learned a few valuable things during my break:

Not everything that happens needs to be shared with the Internet. 

That was a tough one for me, because while in real, face-to-face life I am an introvert through and through and generally avoid trying to get attention, online I like attention. But while on my break, rather than worrying about how I could commemorate a moment in 140 characters or less or with a photo, I just lived the moment. And really, no one seemed to miss my daily toddler updates, anyway.

Photos are much more enjoyable the old fashioned way.

I developed a ton of photos years ago with the intent to scrapbook, but after abandoning that hobby they’ve been sitting in a dusty closet since. I’ve mentioned before my new found love for Project Life. Part of why I love it is because it feels so old school. My kids love looking through the stacks of old photos, and thumbing through the pages of our new albums as I slowly put them together. It’s much better than trying to find the CD’s or flicking through them on the laptop!

My kids definitely follow my example.

Less time for Mom online naturally unfolded into less time with the kids plugged in. And I didn’t even have to nag. Seriously.

Less time online means more space – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Prior to my break, I was finding my forgetfulness increasing, not to mention my grumpiness! I felt a lot less overwhelmed with information, better able to handle stress, and quite honestly, fully open to God’s leading and direction in my life. That’s a better payoff than any of the other ones listed above.

I’m prone to comparison and trying to be like someone else. 

Don’t get me wrong – what you see here is what you pretty much get in real life. I’m a broken, messy woman. But I do struggle with feeling like I don’t measure up, like I need to keep up, and wishing I had half the influence of ______ (fill in the blank). It took taking a break to help me realize that it’s really okay to be Andrea.

I’m officially off my break now, but there are a few things I plan to continue with, like keeping Facebook off my phone, and removing my phone to another room when the temptation is getting too strong. I plan to continue to set time boundaries, particularly as summer schedules relax. And I want to approach my social media use my way – not trying to copy anyone else, but just being myself.

And I want to remember the most important thing: embrace life. Live it well. Because at the end of it all, I don’t want to look back and wonder what all I missed.

Have you taken a social media break lately? What did you learn from it?

 

In case you missed it

I’m a girl who does not like change.

I like the things in my life to remain the same, predictable. I like my coffee in the same mug at the same time every morning. I like the same thing for breakfast every day, and I wear the same ratty old sweater around the house because it’s comfy. And familiar.

These past two years have brought about so much change in my life. Some very, very good, most not. Relationships, careers, new babies (well, just one baby!).  I thought I had been handling it well, until recently. I started to realize I wasn’t happy; I wished life was different. “If only _____ hadn’t of happened,” or “if only I could do both” replayed itself in my mind over and over again.

I was becoming bitter from the hurt my heart had experienced from so much turmoil. And I didn’t like who I was seeing in the mirror.

I had the wonderful privilege of being a guest contributor over at (in)courage this past week. I am excited and humbled and would love it if you popped over there to read the rest of this post!

On hindrances and why I’m signing off for the summer

I’ve been really struggling with unrest and feeling weighed down ever since I ended my social media break. The creativity and zest for life that I experienced during that break is quickly dwindling. And I am tired.

I was having a hard time nailing down exactly what was bothering me until this morning when I worked on my Children of the Day study. We were looking at things that hinder. I couldn’t name anything specific, even though I have this incredible burden on my shoulders, until I read this:

“A hindrance is not always something sinful. Even something wholesome can become less and less consistent with the path God is opening to you. Its season has passed and it’s time to lay it down. These can often be the hardest hindrances to let go of because they’re more subjective and easier to rationalize. They’re not wrong; they’re just wrong right now

Let’s also be sensitive to a churning in our souls or a growing unrest or discomfort toward that particular thing We’ll know. And when we do, let’s ask God for the strength to pitch it. One way we’ll know it was His will is that, even while we miss it, we’ll feel relieved.” Children of the Day, p 67, emphasis mine.

I need to sign off for the summer, to discover if indeed it is this whole social media thing that is hindering me and the growth God has in store. I’ve become a person that I don’t recognize or like all that much, and I want to change that. Or rather, allow Him to change me.

Summer seems like the natural time to do this, because life winds down as school ends and the days beg for afternoons spent on the deck with glass of iced tea and a good book. Of water fights with the kids and sunscreen on our noses. Routines shortened and schedules relaxed. A season of rest and a season of growth.

My soul and my heart feel lighter already.

Five Minute Friday: Messenger

I see the look in his eyes after I have unleashed my mother’s fury on him, this boy who tries my patience like no other child. I am frustrated, I am heartbroken, and I am done.

But his eyes, they tell me so much more than this moment being one of rebellion. There’s remorse, pain, fear, and a plea for love and understanding.

I see the look on his face after he brings the house down with his music. Proud, with eyes searching for mine, wanting to know I am proud, too.

This boy, this child of my heart, my firstborn son has the ability to drive me to my knees more often than I have ever before. I long for him to know God, to know he is loved by Him more than he can even imagine.

But his ten year old heart needs to know I love him, too. And in these days where it seems like we are battling wills more often than not, I can see that need growing.

I long to convey God’s love and acceptance to my son, and it starts with my own words and actions.

I go to my son, this child of my heart, and I tell him I am sorry. That I love him. That I am so very, very proud he is mine.

And I see relief and a belief that God loves, too.

Linking for Five Minute Friday.

I feel like Mary Quite Contrary

I feel the need to preface this post with the statement “I am not a gardener.”

My green thumb is pretty black. I have lost the war to multitudes of gophers, moles, mice, birds, and unknown bugs. The fact I have a plant in my kitchen that has somehow managed to survive six years of neglect is no small miracle, let me tell you.

But I love planting things and watching them grow. It gives me no small thrill when my perennials actually come back in the Spring, despite my ignorance. Maybe my thumb is a little greener than I realized.

I have a flower bed in our front yard that I usually fill with hardy annuals that a busy mama can’t do much harm to. Not to mention that can handle being trampled by toddler feet. But after the third neighbor in a row moved in next door displaying a gift for landscaping I hold in awe, I decided to tackle my garden with an actual plan this year.

Which is funny, because I’m usually a planner. Why have I not thought to do this before?

Because I don’t have any idea what I am doing, I used the power of Google and Pinterest to help me. And you know what I discovered? bhg.com (Home of Better Homes and Gardens) has a nifty little planner that not only helps you figure out the best plants to put in based on your climate and the area your garden is in, it even plots them out for you.

Sometimes, I just love the Internet.

While some of the plants they suggested weren’t available where I live (thank you long winters short summers climate), I did manage to pick up some pretty perennials to plant in my shady flower bed. And I love how finished it is beginning to look by my front door now! (I totally forgot to take a photo on the weekend, and when I went to do it this morning, the sun was directly behind me and all you could see was my crazy-haven’t-done-my-hair-yet shadow. I thought I’d spare you that image.)

Now let’s pretend the horrible weed garden in my backyard is really filled with wild flowers and grasses native to my area and call it a day.

I’m curious – are you a gardener? What are your favourite resources to use? Or are you just naturally gifted and if you are, can you please come landscape my yard for me?

Embrace The Little Moments

I woke up this morning dreading the fact I had to take the girls to the orthodontist today. Sometimes my husband can manage it, but today the task fell to me. It’s not a horrible place, this orthodontist office, but they did manage to suck thousands of dollars out of our bank account in the blink of an eye and I have yet to recover.

Also, I was feeling lazy. It’s a beautiful, sunny day. The lawn should be cut.  I need to ice our 15 year old’s cake for her belated party tomorrow. The floor has too many sticky spots to be ignored anymore. And my Amazon wish list is begging me to lighten its load. So a half hour drive to the city for a fifteen minute appointment and another half hour drive home really didn’t sound fun.

But you know what? It ended up being fun. My girls filled me in on all their little details that usually get left unspoken in the noisy chaos that is our home. I forgot what street the office was on and we laughed as we half ran, half walked the three blocks I parked too far. And because I accidentally parked on the same block Starbucks is on, of course we stopped in on our way back to the van. Who am I to ignore the signs pointing to more coffee?

The morning reminded me that in our quest to be more intentional as moms and women in general, it’s so important to be intentional in stopping and enjoying the little moments. I’m so tempted to try and do things bigger and better – as I think about the upcoming summer holidays, I wish we could do a big trip or big activities, but the reality is we don’t have the resources to do so. These little moments, the ones with smoothies and giggles and extra city blocks, these are the ones that we’ll treasure the most.

These are the ones I want to embrace today.

#RiskRejection: I talked myself into this

So.

I wasn’t going to even write this post. In all honesty, when I read about what the lovely Amy Sullivan is doing in regards to risk and encouraging other bloggers to join her, I was secretly glad that I felt not one iota of a even a whisper of a feeling of being compelled to participate.

(When I start to talk like that, you can know that even more secretly I am in great big denial.)

Yeah, so. As soon as I uttered the words “I’m so glad that God isn’t asking me to take any risks right now,” out loud to myself (also, I talk to myself. Only child syndrome.), all of the sudden I was gripped with ridiculous fear.

Because at that moment I knew, KNEW, with one hundred percent certainty that He was so asking me to take a risk.

Sigh. Some days I wish I didn’t talk to myself.

Alright, so I am a stay-at-home-mom. Way back in high school (please don’t ask me how long ago that was as it is getting incredibly close to my birthday and I am in a bit of denial about that, too) I knew I was being called to be a stay-at-home-mom. In fact, when I told my French teacher, the cutest little Irish man you ever did meet, that I was going to be a mom of the stay at home variety and he responded with “What a waste of your brains,” I determined to prove him wrong.

So what did I do when we started having kids? I looked for every opportunity NOT to be at home with them.

I did run a daycare for the better part of five years before I went back to work. But I was always being drawn back home. Even when I taught preschool, my dream job, I still felt a small niggling in the back of my mind that wished I was at home.

But I had bought into the thinking that a mom who *just* stays at home is worth pretty little.

And I had neglected to remember Who called me to be here in the first place.

So when the littlest mister was born, I knew it was time to listen. It wasn’t hard – I wanted to be at home with him! But I also spent the next two years after I left work wishing I was back there.

I had a lot of stuff I had to deal with – selfish ambition and jealousy being the biggies – and once I did, I was able to finally be content and even excited with this realized purpose of being keeper of our home and little family.

But it still scares me. Not working kind of puts a damper on our finances. Right now I look after a sweet little preschooler a few days a week, and while I love her to pieces, can I be honest? Daycare is not so much my thing anymore.

Here’s where the big risks for me come in.

Risk #1: At the end of June I will be finished babysitting L because she heads off to Kindergarten in the fall. I won’t be looking to fill her spot. (That freaks me out just typing it!) That means, unless God makes it abundantly clear otherwise, I will be done offering daycare in a few short months.

Risk #2: With no daycare, comes no income. My tendency in these situations is to start looking for a job to help out with the fun fund. But I am taking this call to be at home seriously, so I won’t be trying to take control and do things my way. That scares me.

Risk #3: We’ll be trusting that God will provide for our extra needs. We have four kids. Kids are expensive. And require things like clothing. And shoes. And things like braces and contact lenses. And could someone explain to me how it happens that they all need new clothing and shoes at exactly the same moment? These small things cause me to worry often, but I’m going to believe that since God has a purpose for having me be a full-time stay-at-home-mom, He’s going to take care of all the details. I just need to actually let Him.

Okay. So maybe to pretty much everyone else, these risks are fairly minimal. But they’re a pretty big deal to me. I still don’t want to hit publish on this post. But I will. Because I like Amy. And I believe that I need to take this leap of faith.

Also, I have hope that in trusting Him with this, there’s going to be a great adventure waiting for us on the other side. And I really can’t wait to see what that is!