what the heck are we doing?

 

I should be more like ____, because she is obviously making a difference in people’s lives.

Ever thought that to yourself?
It’s hard NOT to when we have some impressive Christian women opening our eyes to MAJOR world issues and PS: it’s all over Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s what I know about myself:

  • The ministry role I am in at our church is EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be and I am crazy under-qualified (is that a word?) for this role.
  • I’m spending time with my family and making memories.
  • I’m stretching myself with theology books that are WAY over my head.
  • I have scheduled exercise days so that the week doesn’t fly by without some sweat (I mean on-purpose sweat … not Texas sweat) and often times I am out for a bike ride with my husband, talking while we sweat.
  • My son is DIGGING his role on the kids worship team at church.
  • I’m quilting when I can squeeze it in.

My list sucks compared to _______’s list.
Why do we feel like we need a “next big thing” when clearly God is at work with some pretty big things already.  Why do we compare ourselves to others who are called to DIFFERENT things than we are?  Have I gotten so used to rushing from one thing to the next that I have forgotten how to find joy in all the things I AM ACTUALLY DOING?

God has called me to:

  1. Be a wife … check, doing that and screwing it up sometimes with my mouth… and apparently I have a “face” that I make. Crap, I just made the face while I thought about the face.
  2. Be a mom … check, doing that and watching my kid grow out of one stage and dance his way into another (literally — if I could attach a video from Instagram here, I would)
  3. Be in ministry... check, doing that and I cannot believe He would choose me to serve in this way – WOAH Nelly.
  4. GROW in my faith … check, doing that through a summer class that continues to kick me around while I’m on the ground with my dictionary and a flashlight moaning “I have no idea what that word means!!!!”
  5. Be creative … check, doing that through quilting both alone and with my mom.
  6. Treat my body well … check, doing that except for when my coworkers tell me there is amazing CAKE in the fridge at church.  (You know who you are and I know where you live) 
  7. Laugh/Love… check, doing that so often that I’m aging my face with laugh lines.
  8. Pray… check, can’t STOP doing this!
  9. Worship… check, my favorite place to be.  I would listen to all three services if I had the time and if it wouldn’t make my family make “the face.”
  10. Experience hardship … check, not my favorite thing by far but I am constantly learning from the things in my not-so-distant-past that either I screwed up or were outside my control.

So what the heck am I doing?

  • I’m not on a plane to Africa.
  • I’m not opening my home to people who can’t get their feet under themselves.
  • I’m not handing out my lunch to the homeless each day.
  • I’m not doing all these “amazing” things you hear about on Facebook.

But don’t be mistaken, just because I’m not on a place to Africa it doesn’t mean He hasn’t called me to do things that are BIG, to do things I don’t understand, and ask me to walk in faith to follow Him.  And for the record, I also have a list of things I feel Him calling me to – and I’m trying to find the courage to JUMP into His will through faith in Him alone.  But that’s a whole other blog post.

(PS: I’m secretly terrified that He will call me to Uganda, because holy-hand-sanitizer I have first world OCD issues.)

I am doing the AMAZING and TERRIFYING things He has called me to do. I don’t have to be like _______.  I was never meant to be like her anyway.  I was given my own scavenger hunt, my own terrifying task list that require 100% faith and 100% obedience.

You weren’t meant to be like her either.  You were wonderfully and beautifully made in God’s image.  Noah and Abraham were called to two VERY different things.  Mary and Eve?  Different things.  You and me?  Different things.

Be happy for _______ for following God’s prompting in her life.
And get fired up about the things He has called YOU to do!

THAT…. THAT is what we are doing.
Startiiiiing….. now.

 

 

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.

alittleTOOMUCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often times I feel like I have too much going on in my life — too many hurts, too many stressors, too many things on my list that need to get done, too many errands to run, too many people to call, too many emails to respond to — it all feels like too much.  

And then your typical Christian would tell you to pick up your bible and read God’s Word, or go to church, or a typical Catholic would tell you to pray through the rosary.  And for crying out loud, don’t let anyone see that you’re struggling because — you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to have it all together!  Slap a Christian fish on the back of your car and make us look good!

Really?
Because if that’s the case, then maybe this “Christian” gig isn’t for me.
I NEVER have it all together!

We hear people say things like “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” – but I disagree with that.  I think LIFE will give us a ton more than we can handle, and God is just waiting waiting waiting for us to run to Him and say “Take this!!!! ALL of this!  Calm me down, God because I’m about to completely FREAK OUT over here!”  I don’t believe that God is sitting in the heavens like someone who is getting cream poured into his coffee just waiting to say “woah” when it’s just the right amount.

I think it’s our responsibility to notice when it’s too much for us – and then do something about it.  You know what your too much feels like. Maybe you’re feeling it right now and you’re “escaping” from your too much by scrolling through Twitter or Facebook.  You’re going to the wrong place – I know because I do it too.  (but feel free to finish reading before you close your browser tab!)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

The Bible overwhelms me – I don’t know where to start on my own.  So instead I go to some of my favorite Christian blogs or read my favorite devotional, or even read another chapter in a book that is helping me grow through some of my personal issues.  (see a list of my favorite resources at the bottom of this post)  When one of those resources touches on a passage in scripture that hits me right between the eyes, THEN I go to my bible and I dig deeper.  I read the footnotes.  I read the correlating passages that are written in the margins.  And then I close my eyes and pray.  

My prayers aren’t going to sound like your prayers.
My faith isn’t going to move and breathe like your faith.

My learning isn’t going to mirror your learning.

In the passage from Matthew listed above, Jesus talks about His yoke being easy.  I learned from Jen Hatmaker at the #reckless2013 conference that “yoke” is a term that means “specific ways or methods.”  The religious leaders were all bent out of shape about praying this way or that way, don’t hang out with the sinful people, do this, don’t do that. When disciples of rabbi’s literally followed and mirrored the rabbi, the specific things that rabbi did were called his yoke.  Hello!!!!  TOO MUCH!  It’s like trying to learn a complicated line dance for someone with no rhythm… it’s just too much.

Jesus says, “my yoke is easy” — oh thank God… literally.
“…and my burden is light” — good because I have enough burdens already!

The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to go to God.  He is there waiting for you.  The way you go to God doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s way, or sound like everyone else’s sounds.  And following Jesus isn’t complicated. No training is required, you can just jump right in.  Following Jesus isn’t too much, it’s the RELIEF from the too much that you have everywhere else in your life.

And for the record, a Christian fish on the back of the car tells me that person knows he is a sinner and that he isn’t perfect. He knows he has to RUN to Jesus because that’s where the burden is light and I’m totally down with that way of thinking.  

Give me all your burdens… um, GO FISH!
Go Fish or Go Home!
I once saw an ichthys bumper sticker THIS BIG!

… I know …. too much.

Ann’s favorite resources:

  1. Devotionals:
    1. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
    2. UpWords by Max Lucado
    3. Verse of the Day at biblegateway.com
  2. Blogs:
    1. P31 Ministries
    2. Jen Hatmaker
    3. God Dots by Anne Watson
    4. Chronic Illness & Pain
  3. Books:
    1. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
    2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
    3. Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
    4. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
    5. The Book of God by Walter Wangerin

just … stop.

image (2)

 

When I was a kid my mom didn’t use the phrase “time out.”  In fact it was a phrase typically used at basketball practice or when my dad would scream at the TV during a Hawkeyes football game (yes, I’m from Iowa — no, I’m not an Iowa State fan — but for the record, I don’t root for the Hawkeyes either).  Honestly, I don’t even remember my mom shooing us away so she could take a “mommy time out” and search for her sanity.  She was pretty even keeled.

She sighed more than she yelled, but for the record I would have preferred yelling.  Sighing just leaves you hanging … like “what is she thinking?”  My mom rolled with the punches and went to band concerts, volleyball games, softball games, basketball games, plays and girl scout meetings.  I’m one of three girls; we were involved in a lot of stuff!  I also don’t ever remember her complaining that she didn’t have time for herself.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Because I can’t help but wonder what has changed.  Now I constantly hear these words coming out of my mouth, “If I just had an hour to myself!!!!!” … interesting that I never finish that thought, I just leave it hanging… kind of like my mom’s sighs.  (my sisters are making our mom’s sigh-sound as they read this — that’s how impactful her sighs were!)

I’m calling a time out on myself.

I refuse to read another book about what I should be doing until I figure out what I’m going to STOP doing.  I think the first thing to go is this belief that I have to have an hour to myself especially when everyone is home from their busy days — says who?  God gave me this great kid and amazing husband and all I do is crave time to myself?!?!?!  Um… that’s a bit twisted.  Afterall, I couldn’t wait to get married, and I prayed and prayed that the infertility treatments would work despite my medical issues so that I could have a child to love and care for — and sorry for my transparency but, I think I’m sort of pissing it all away. (I take that back, I’m not sorry for my transparency)

I love my phone.
You guys know this already. And though I am temped to give you a list of things justifying my idolatry towards this piece of technology, I will just let it be.  Even though it’s killing me a little inside.

But do I LOVE my family?

So what if I don’t get to the next level of Candy Crush (for the record, I have not touched Candy Crush since I gave it up for … well not Lent but for Jen Hatmaker… I mean for ME).  So what if I don’t get a pedicure.  So what if I don’t finish reading all the posts on Facebook.  So what if I don’t gab with my friend for an hour about all the funny things that happened this week.

Moderation is the key… I dislike that word, it reminds me that I have to eat in moderation and that bugs me because I love food.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

I think it’s incredibly important that we model good friendships to our children and that we go out and enjoy ourselves with friends when the opportunity arises.  I think it’s incredibly important to have time away from our spouses so that we have fresh and fun things to talk about.  I think it’s important to stay connected to long time friends and even current friends — but ya’ll — I’ve been doing it wrong.  It should be God, family, friends (and everything else).  So an hour in the morning reading scripture or my bible study books?  Totally legit.  Or an hour having coffee with a friend while everyone is gone doing his own thing?  No problem.  An hour on the couch scrolling through Twitter while my son is glued to the television…. dude.  Right. Between. The ii’s. (for iPhone and iPad… see what I did there with the…. see the i’s… nevermind)

I know I just blogged about this the other day, but this whole idea of having a list of things I am going to STOP doing seems much more inviting than a list of things I am going to START doing.  It reminds me of New Year’s when everyone has these lists of cool things they are going to conquer, and by February they don’t even know where the list is.  I don’t want to be that person.

So what are you going to stop doing?

I have another game to delete from my phone, I can tell you that right now…
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

candy crush confessions

This past spring our women’s ministry studied Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and my friend asked me if I would speak on the chapter about fasting from media.

I wish you could see my cursor blinking because that’s pretty much how I reacted when she asked me.  I just blinked.  My first reaction was “absolutely NO WAY!”

I do not hide my iPhone addiction.  Many people know about it, I have spoken about it, blogged about it, and prayed about it — and I still struggle with it.  While I prepared to fast from media I used all of my Candy Crush lives and special candy powers, scrolled through as much Facebook as I could, and tried one last time to beat my sister’s high score in Bejeweled.  And then I was readyish for the fast.

I seriously went from headed toward this trajectory:

And this reality:

To this trajectory:

photo from: http://mom.me/blog

Ok not really but give me some credit — I put my phone away except for phone calls and limited texts, ya’ll!  In my head I was family member of the year!

Here were my findings:  

  1. I have addictive behavior tendencies that stem from a place of perfectionism.  I wanted to crush that candy so I could get to the next level and the next — never-mind my starving child and dirty house, there were levels to conquer!
  2. I have addictive behavior tendencies … period.  Having something as handy as an iPhone isn’t necessarily a good thing for people like me.
  3. I was teaching my kid to have addictive behavior tendencies.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  But wait, there’s more.

  1. I was ruining my marriage because I gave my phone more eye contact than I gave my husband.
  2. I wasn’t reading my bible because I had candy to crush.
  3. I wasn’t reading anything really, except the directions that proceeded each new candy crush level.

I realized all of these things in just one week of not messing around on my phone.  So guess what I did when the fast was over?

I kept fasting.  

My husband and I started talking again.  My son no longer had comebacks such as, “why do I have to get off my Xbox if you’re playing games on your phone all the time!?!” <— yes that hurt, like a punch to the stomach.  I was also back in the Word of God, learning and growing and studying my Savior.

How am I now, 4 months later?
I ended up deleted approximately 20 apps.  It was refreshing and honestly I didn’t miss them.  Things are different now thanks to Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform.  I have learned how to use Facebook and Twitter in a way that supports my dreams and goals instead of working against them.

I still struggle from time to time and my husband is great about gently reminding me when I am “doing it again” and I don’t even realize it.  Habits are so incredibly hard to break.

  • Maybe you can play Candy Crush and still be a priceless gem to your family, I couldn’t.
  • Maybe you can keep yourself from scrolling endlessly through Facebook and Instagram, I couldn’t.
  • Or maybe, just maybe, you’re like me and this candy confession was just what you needed to read.

What do you struggle with in terms of media addictions?