on the outside, looking in

Last weekend my little family of three went on a get-away trip to San Antonio.  We had a great time and made an effort to keep our phones put away except for a few snapshots here and there.   We didn’t even verbalize set phone-rules, we just wanted to be sure we enjoyed each other more than we enjoyed our technology.

Here are things we noticed:

  • our conversation was focused on us, not on what we saw on Facebook
  • our kiddo thrives on adventure – even if it means taking a different path than we did to get to the same place
  • we actually had productive conversations about our parenting goals and family goals
  • we laughed.  a lot.
  • we didn’t miss our phones

Here is what we noticed at other tables in restaurants:

  • the people dining hardly looked at each other
  • heads hardly ever looked up from phones when servers brought their meals
  • phones were still in one hand while eating with the other
  • often the only conversation that occurred was in reference to someone showing a picture on his/her phone
  • KIDS are glued to tablets and phones

I remember my husband saying, “I’m glad that’s not us – I’m glad we don’t have our phones out.”
And I remember thinking, “Today.  I’m glad we had the willpower to put them away today.”

 

This video impacts me every single time I watch it and it reminds me to have a healthy respect for my phone.  There is a time and a place to use your phone.  Exercise some willpower and learn the difference.

It’s hard.  It’s SO hard to create a healthy distance from technology when it’s everywhere AND when almost everyone in our circles is using it as well.  Our kids are growing up in this new environment, and it’s our responsibility to set good examples for them.

With a smartphone it’s hard NOT to:

  • answer that work email so you can show that you’re a team player
  • text a friend with something funny your kid just said instead of laughing with your family
  • look up that web address immediately after seeing it advertised
  • check the weather/traffic … over and over again
  • post the family picture you just took on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and so on
  • play a game instead of sitting idle for 5 minutes while you wait in line
  • check Facebook. again. and again. and again. and again.
  • post a great quote on Twitter instead of really enjoying and soaking in that book

iphone

Several weeks ago, my friend Lauren posted this link on Facebook – I know, the irony of it all, but stay with me here.  It’s basically a challenge to see how long you can go without picking up your phone and here’s the gem of it all… the minutes ticking by while your phone sits idle, is rewarded to people who don’t have phones.  In fact, they don’t even have water.   Read more here, and take the challenge.

Do some good to yourself, your family, your boundaries, and to total strangers who can’t ever repay you.

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waiting, waiting, waiting… and worn out (Part Two): learning to be still

In the Fall of 2011, I had to wait over three months to get in to see a specialist.  A reputable one.
Notice the word “wait” — it’s a pretty important word.

In that time I had no medications available because I didn’t have a solid diagnosis.  I did a lot of research and decided to try a clean diet to see if it helped.  I ate only lean meats, vegetables, nuts, and fruits for over three months.

The end result?  No change.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Nil.  And every other word you can think of that means the same thing.  My pain remained the same.

What did I learn in those months of waiting to see a specialist?

  1. I learned to slow the heck down.  My sister emailed me a link explaining The Spoon Theory about a year prior to my physical issues.  If you haven’t read it — you must.  It isn’t just for people with chronic illnesses, it is applicable for ALL of us.  I noticed that I couldn’t keep up with the mad raced pace of society around me and you know what?  I was TIRED of trying.  I didn’t want to go to this party and that one, to this lunch, and that girls night out.  I wanted to be home with my family!  We started playing board games with our son, taking family walks, going to the park together, and more.  The more time I spent with my family, the more I CRAVED it!  I didn’t want to crowd them out again by filling my calendar with other things.
  2. All I needed, I already had.  The biggest revelation came in the form of realizing I didn’t “NEED” people the way I thought I did.  I had a husband, a child, two sisters, parents, four nieces and a nephew with whom I hardly spent any time.  On holidays, I was more concerned about seeing my friends than I was about spending quality time with my own family.  That revelation stung quite a bit because my husband had been hinting at it for several years but I just wasn’t getting it.  I can appreciate that people don’t have family around them and their friends become their family — more power to you, seriously — but I didn’t fit in that category.  I plain and simple had a family that I was ignoring.
  3. God was (and still is) in the details.  While I was busy moving and grooving, I longed to see God in the daily things around me — but I didn’t have TIME to see God.  I had things to do, people to see, emails to write, phone calls to answer, social events to arrange and attend, blah blah blah.  The only way I would see Him in the details is when He would do things like this to get my attention:
    But once I slowed down, I started seeing him in people at the grocery store.  I saw Him in the mailman when he would bring all of our mail to the door along with a package.  I saw my husband making room for Him in his heart and mind.  I saw Him in scripture, in the abundance of food we have available to us, in the warmth of the heater, and in the clean water I took for granted.  He was (and still is) EVERYWHERE.  But I had been too busy to acknowledge Him.
  4. I needed church.  I used to be someone who would say, “but why do you HAVE to go to church?  I can worship and read the bible at home just as easily as I can in church.”  But I never followed through.  I never cracked open my bible  before I started attending church.  Pastors go through years of classes.  They read books constantly. They have knowledge that I realized I could tap into!  It was completely worth an hour of my time to listen to them pick apart scripture and to learn what certain things meant in the bible.  I NEEDED that nourishment just as much as I needed food and water.  When left to my own devices, well — that’s exactly what I would do — get on my “devices” (which is what the kids at my son’s middle school call iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and so on).  I would easily fill my time with other things, none of which were God-centered.
  5. I had become selfish. I stopped seeing my husband’s needs and my son’s needs, and even the needs of people around me because I had become completely consumed with NEEDING an answer for my physical pain. I felt odd.  I felt like I no longer fit in anywhere.  But you know what?  I did that to myself.  I was thinking about my pain 24/7 – and if you’re in pain I know what you’re thinking: “How can I possibly think of anything BUT the pain that is agonizing me all day and all night?”  Honestly?  That’s something you have to figure out on your own.  But I know it isn’t healthy for you.   I wanted so badly to give God the glory by being someone He could use, even while I was hurting — but I was so inwardly focused that He could only use me in teeny tiny ways.

So how do you slow down and not become selfish?  This is going to knock some of you off your rockers — so put your seat-belts on:

Resting, being with your family, and seeing God in the details
does not make you selfish – what you allow to consume your thoughts
and drive your motivations could be what’s making you selfish.

After reading this list – what is something that you know you need to change but you just haven’t followed through? Be Brave.  I dare you.

5 things I remembered this week

Multiple new folks have landed on my blog over the past couple of months and I figured it was time for an update to bring everyone up to speed on who this Ann person is.  This post is mostly about my transparent qualities that some find … how shall I say… disturbing.  But honestly my transparency is one of the things that helps me connect so deeply to others.

So here are 5 things that I remembered about myself this week:

  1. My husband can make me laugh harder than anyone else on the planet.  To the point that I snort when I laugh.  Which makes him laugh harder, and that makes me laugh harder — and we pretty much take on the characteristics of two middle school boys who laugh at completely inappropriate things, in totally inappropriate locations.
  2. I would rather put together a gas grill than cook dinner.  I can rock a drill — actually “our” drill is only “ours” because he married me.  That whole common property thing keeps me from really being able to claim it as “mine” anymore.
  3. I can’t handle the sensation of having something stuck between my teeth.  And I WILL stop to buy dental floss should such an issue arise.  And I will use it in my car until the issue is resolved.
  4. There is something very therapeutic about emptying a filled vacuum canister.  I have a great sense of accomplishment from removing a ginormous about of disgusting things from our carpet/floors/blinds … and anything else I happen to vacuum while I’m at it….. lights, fans, my shirt, chairs, the dust on the entertainment center, and … for the sake of full transparency… lampshades.
  5. I thrive in a clean environment – I don’t have OCD but I absolutely have OCD tendencies.  However, I seem to be one of the main reasons why we have stacks of random things in the kitchen.  I’m sure there’s a need for therapy in there somewhere, but whatever.  (Putting my shoes away right after I post this to appease my husband)

So there you have it.  There’s a little bit of the disturbance in the force of my mind.  So tell me something about you!  Tell me one thing you remembered about YOURSELF this week!

punkin’ chunkin’

IMG_6018
Photo credits: Kiran Photography

For the third year in a row I get to be part of the planning team at our church for our annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ Fall Picnic.  This is my favorite event (other than baptisms!) to attend, enjoy, and see God at work in the lives of people. I love that our church lives to pray hard and PLAY hard!!!

Read my blog post here:  http://goo.gl/oBrEqT

i use 2 text & dri…

This is Keian.  He is 15 in this picture.  Handsome, isn’t he?  He is taking the typical teen selfie — ok who am I kidding, even adults do this now!  He is taking the typical selfie pic with his phone in the mirror probably before he heads out the door for school.

photo from kvia.com
photo from kvia.com

Keian’s mom, Marcy was taking her kids to school on October 31st, 2012.  She dropped off her two sweet girls and probably gave them all kinds of tender advice for their day.  Then it was time to take Keian to the High School.

But they never made it to the High School.

A 21-year-old woman was headed the opposite direction as they were, and it appears from the investigations that she was texting and driving.  I do that all the time.

“Yes, on my way.”  or …
“UGH – I know! Boys are so crazy!” or …
“K, will email it to you when I get home.” or …
“On my way to the store, need anything?”

I can type pretty fast with my right thumb.  I was actually disappointed when we upgraded to iPhones because I was a beast with my old phone.  I could feel the buttons with my thumb and could text without even looking… 4 … 555…666…888…33…88  (I love you).  I had the keypad memorized.  Easy-peasy.

I’m careful to only text when I’m not in a huge pack of cars on the highway, or when I’m at a stoplight — ooops, it’s green!, and I only text in neighborhoods after I’ve made sure no kids are around.

Is this transparency making you cringe?  It’s all truth.  And I am embarrassed to admit it all, but hey, I’ve never been in a texting related accident so clearly I know how to do it.

That 21-year-old female in New Mexico driving to work or home or to see her mom or wherever she was heading — I bet she had never been in a texting related accident either.  But that day, her actions ended up killing Marcy and Keian.

Their family never saw them again.

I wish you could see my cursor blinking right now, and hear my heart pounding, and see the tears pooling in my eyes.

I don’t want to be responsible for a Marcy and a Keian not making it to school, or even worse, not making it to the dinner table to laugh and pray with their family.  Their family will never go on another family vacation without feeling the weight of the two people missing from their car.  They will never go to another restaurant and ask for a table for 3 without thinking “it used to be a table for 5.”  I don’t want to sit in a courtroom and hear how thoughtless and selfish my actions were that ripped a loving and tender mother away from her daughters… and took a dad’s only son from his life … forever.

Not to mention how it would impact my own family.  My son would grow up without me and I would be in a cell in some prison looking at his pictures and reading every letter over and over and over again.  I wouldn’t be able to teach him how to drive, or be there for his High School prom, or graduation, or college years.  I might not be there when he gets married, and would be giddy to see the wedding pictures that come in the mail to my cell…. and I don’t mean phone…  wait, would he even want a relationship with me anymore? Would I even get pictures and letters?  My husband would struggle with the choice to stay married to me, a killer.  We wouldn’t snuggle in bed and laugh at stupid commercials together…  I would ruin all of that for my family.

I’ve been texting and driving for at least 7 years if not more.  With my son in the car.  On highways.  In neighborhoods.  In parking lots… all because I thought my messages were incredibly important and couldn’t wait.

But the message of taking someone’s life because I needed you to know I will email you when I get home?  That’s a message I don’t ever want to send….

It can wait.

Click on that link above to take the pledge with me.  Stop texting and driving – TODAY.  Write Marcy and Keian on your steering wheel if you need to. Just stop.  I’m on my 8th day of no texting and driving — and it isn’t easy to break a 7+ year habit, but taking someone else’s life isn’t something I can live with…. waiting to send that text is TOTALLY something I can live with.  Thanks to my friend Beth, who knew Marcy and Keian, my perspective has changed.

Leave a comment if you will take the pledge with me.
No judgement.
Just grace.

Because I’ve taken the pledge before and failed — and I need to know there are others out there who will stand with me and will make the change with me too.

 

 

knocking helmets with your spouse

Kids have no trouble understanding the idea of being on the same team in sports.  In fact, adults can grasp that idea pretty solidly as well.  So why is it that when we get married and have kids that BOOM, husband and wife are no longer on the same team?

5 But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. 6 But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. 7 ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, 8 and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, 9 let no one split apart what God has joined together.”  Mark 10:5-9

I have to hand it to my mom, she didn’t hover when our son was little and we were trying to figure out bedtime routines, healthy boundaries and so on.  She really didn’t.  My dad is the advice giving member of the family – even when it’s unsolicited. My husband’s parents were much the same.  His dad was the unsolicited advice giver — usually loud and in public… awesome — and his mom only gave advice when we asked her for it.  Even still, up until about 5 years ago my husband and I tried to stick with the way things worked when we were kids. 

Here’s the problem with that — he grew up in a teeny tiny town, lived out in the country, didn’t go to church, always had hunting rifles around him, and he was an only child.  I grew up in the city, going to private schools, and attending Catholic church with my parents, and had two older sisters.  Dare I say we were parenting in opposite directions?  Sure, we had the appearance of being on the same team, but really we were sabotaging each other’s efforts.

My sister and her husband have a very simple saying when things get heated at their house regarding parenting … they take a deep breath and say:

“same team”

Here are 4 simple steps to ensure you and your spouse both understand you’re on the same team, and act like you’re on the same team!

  1. Create a simple statement like “same team” that you can say to each other when things get heated.  This statement is intended to take the emotion out of your decision making as parents.  You both want to do what’s best for your kiddo.  Period.  This is like a huge TIME OUT being called on the field.
  2. Watch your tone. If you say “same team” like a teenager who swears she knows it all, I don’t think your spouse is going to take that as a time out as much as he will a body check.  Put your helmet on if you plan to talk ugly to your spouse because it’s about to get sporty up in your house! Or even better, remember that having an attitude in confrontation tells your spouse you don’t want to resolve anything, but you want to fight and show you’re right.  And that makes this all about you, and not about your kid.  (FLAG ON THE PLAY!)
  3. Be prepared to walk away.  If an agreement can’t be made on how to discipline your child, take a break.  Each of you make a list of three ALTERNATIVE disciplinary actions that have yet to be discussed.  Then when the time is right, come back together and talk like grown ups about a solution.
  4. Stop sabotaging your spouse’s efforts. Don’t go undo everything your spouse has just done.  After he grounds your daughter, don’t go to her room and say, “I really don’t agree with daddy, and I say you are NOT grounded.”  BAD IDEA.  Now your spouse knows you don’t have his back, and your daughter sees an avenue to get between you to get what she wants, anytime she wants it.  Kids NEED a unified front.  And you do too or this parenting gig is going to swallow you whole.

So whose team are you on?
Your own?
Or your spouse’s?

Leave your old ways, leave your childhood behind (cuz it’s sooo yesterday).
Become ONE with your spouse.

making the call to “that” friend

Why do we do that thing where we make an issue bigger than it really is?  Often times it isn’t even an issue but we don’t take the time to clarify someone else’s words and we go from harmless words floating in the air to panicking because there is an air raid and you’re being singled out.  You’re the only one taking shells!  RUN! HIDE!  GET IN YOUR FOX HOLE!

Or…
What if you just called your friend and asked for clarification.

GASP!

No Ann, you can’t possibly mean to face the issue head on could you?
Why yes, that’s exactly what I mean.  Hold on, let me finish rinsing the sand out of my teeth so I can share with you what I learned yesterday.

I’ve made this mistake too many times to count.  I had a conversation with a friend and walked away a little injured, then my mind went ahead and dropped the atomic bomb and made me think that friend didn’t care about me at all.  If I had a dollar for every friendship I have single-handedly ruined this way, I would quickly give it all away so no one would see how awful I have been.

Earlier this year I decided to change this way of catostrophasizing, but yesterday was my first real attempt at picking myself up from my face-plant in sand and setting my feet on the instructions that Jesus gave us.

23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.  Matthew 5:21

Since I gave up sacrificing animals for Lent (a bad, and probably inappropriate Catholic joke), I tend to think this looks more like when I am praying for peace, asking for God’s forgiveness, and asking for help to be obedient in His will — except that I am trying to step over the dead friendship I have created to get to God’s blessing.

You pretty much have to address the friends with whom you must reconcile. FIRST.

So I did.

I called “that” friend.  The one who said something to me early in the day and it messed with me all day long.  I said, “hey you know when you said this and that?  It hurt me and made me feel yucky.”

She was SO grateful that I called because as it turns out, she had only shared a teeny tiny snippet of the full story.  As I listened, I used my hazmat suit and gloves to clean up the chemical warfare carnage that I had created in my mind.

At the end of the call I felt SO much better.
And I also had more work do to… yup, more sand.

As it turns out, when you allow that atomic bomb to be built and to detonate in your mind, you create a World War II recreation in your own family by throwing up all over the people you love the most… and the cat would like for me to share this with you:

identity hidden to protect the innocent
identity hidden to protect the innocent

I had to go home and apologize to my husband for letting my chemical mess burn him, and I had to ask for his forgiveness.  He happens to be a pretty amazing guy who understood, forgave, and got the yard blower out to help clean up my sandy mess.