Making a Good Choice

  

Yesterday our family decided to buy takeaway for dinner and I found myself with some tough decisions: do I get my favourite option, which is really tasty but not so good for me, or do I choose the healthy option? The difference in the kj/calorie count provided on the menu helped me to make the better choice. I had mixed feelings about the experience, which led me to thinking about the difficulties of making good choices in life in general.

1. Making good choices can be really hard

When the options are right in front of us and we have to choose in the midst of temptation, making that good choice is not easy! Everything within us is crying out, “Just try it”, “It won’t hurt if it’s just this once”, “Everyone is doing/getting it”, “Will it really matter?” It takes a lot of willpower to stand strong against these thoughts and go ahead with the good choice.

2. The good choice is not necessarily the most popular option

Life’s menu is full of tasty options that aren’t necessarily good for us but are much more popular. If you’ve ever heard the phrase from the Bible, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭13-14‬ NIV) you’ll know that. It’s so much easier to go with the flow than to swim against the current.

3. Making a good choice means you may miss out on something more appealing

The good choice can look and taste quite bland, compared to what else is on offer. It may not be as fun. It may not come with a bonus toy or drink. It might not be as sweet or pretty. We often allow our senses to control our decisions instead of our brain. You can’t even trust your heart, for “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17‬:‭9‬ NIV)

4. Making a good choice means you may have to pay more

If there’s one thing I hate it’s feeling like I’m getting ripped off. I hate that we pay more for healthier food, organic options and handmade crafts. It’s not that they’re not worth it; it’s that the cheaper, nastier options have been made so cheaply, in bulk, using slave labour (maybe I’m over-exaggerating here – or not) that it makes it practically impossible to choose the more expensive, quality choice. BUT, if we want good quality products that will last longer and/or are better for us, we most often have to pay the price.

5. Making a good choice means you might get less (even though you just paid more!!)

“Comparison is the thief of joy”, so they say. Don’t look at how much someone else has and compare it to what you have, especially if you’ve already passed the first four steps of making a good choice. It will only make you miserable. Stand strong, knowing you’ve made a good choice, even if it seems you don’t have as much as others.

6. Making a good choice means you may not get immediate satisfaction (but the benefits are long term)

Making the good choice doesn’t always feel satisfying at the time. It may leave you feeling wanting more. You may still want just a little bit of what someone else has. You may even sneak a taste, but if you do, it will leave you with a sick feeling. Resist! Know that the benefits may not be apparent immediately, but in the long run, you will be the winner and you’ll look back in gratitude and relief for having made the hard decision – the Good Choice.

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Lessons from “The Lego Movie”

My family sat down to watch “The Lego Movie” last night. My brother-in-law had warned that even he had been a little teary toward the end. Not long into the movie I found myself jotting down some pearls of wisdom that were presented.

For those who haven’t yet seen it, the movie centres around Emmet, a plain, ordinary Lego construction worker with no outstanding features or abilities, but who is very good at following instructions and very cheery. He begins each day with the same routine, which introduces:

Lesson 1 – “Greet the day with a smile”

Every extra day we get on this planet is a blessing, an extra chance to do something with our lives, connect with other humans, brighten someone’s day with a smile or an encouraging word and just leave our mark. Starting the day with a smile and a positive attitude with an expectation that it’s going to be a great day is a much better option than groaning about going to work or school. Be thankful that you have a job when many don’t, or that you have access to education, particularly if it’s free and without threat of gunmen or terrorist kidnappers.

Lesson 2 – “Don’t worry about what the others are doing. You must embrace what is special about YOU!”

Too often we look around at what everyone else is achieving and become despondent about our own lives. Especially in this day of social media when most people post their “highlight reel”, we can feel that our “behind-the-scenes” life is less than extraordinary. Everyone can find something to grateful for, whether it’s the fact that you are actually alive or healthy or have food and shelter. Maybe you don’t have a really obvious, out-there talent, like being artistic or musical or sporty, but there IS something special about you. Maybe you’re a good listener or a friendly person or encouraging or enjoy cooking or cleaning (not my talents!). Perhaps you’re great at following and people can rely on you because you’re trustworthy. Whatever it is, embrace it and be the best YOU you can be! You were put here for a purpose. If you’re still here, then you haven’t yet completely fulfilled that purpose!

Lesson 3 – “To be special you just have to believe you are.”

Self-doubt can be crippling. Belief in oneself is critical. A very wise man once said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” What we think about ourselves and anything or anyone else on the inside, will eventually make itself apparent on the outside, whether it be good or bad. There is a difference in having humble self-confidence and prideful arrogance. If you’re having trouble believing good things about yourself and you’re worn out from fighting the negativity, look for positive truths to replace the bad thoughts. My favourite place to find truth is in the Bible. There you will find out what God thinks of you:
*You were born for such a time as this
*You are the apple of His eye
*You are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath
*You are an overcomer
*You are the righteousness of Christ
*God knew you when he formed you in your mother’s womb
*God knows the plans He has for you – plans to give you a hope and a future
*You are created in the image of God
… And many, many more.

Lesson 4 – “Build things only you can build.”

I can do things you can’t do. You can do things I can’t do. We complement each other. When we work together we can achieve great things. We all have some level of creativity inside. We are made in the image of a creative God who spoke everything we see into being out of nothing but His imagination. Erwin McManus in his book “The Artisan Soul” writes, “Every species builds, but humans create.” I love this! Even if what you do only positively affects one person, it’s worth it, because they are worth it and was meaningful and important to them. We can’t do everything but we can do something. That something combined with other people’s somethings can make something extraordinary that we couldn’t have achieved on our own.

Lesson 5 – “You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things. Because you are the Special. And so am I. And so is everyone…. And you… still… can change everything.”

This is the one that made me tear up the most. Everyone wants to feel like they’re special and the good news is YOU ARE! And even if you feel like you’ve stuffed up by making some bad choices – hey, welcome to being a human! – it’s not too late to make a change. God’s mercy for us is new every morning. He is the God of second, third and 1068th chances, if we confess our weaknesses and are willing to try again with His help. He wants you to succeed at life. He needed something done and made you especially for that purpose, with all your funny little quirks and idiosyncrasies that you probably hate. We’re not perfect and never will be in this life. The bad guy in the movie, Lord Business, demanded perfection and controlled everybody so there was no freedom for creative thought. Embrace your imperfections and see what God can still do with you.

As sad as funerals are, it’s a time when all the good things about a person’s life are remembered: the things they did, the lives they touched, their special character traits and the things people loved and will miss about them. The saddest part is when the deceased didn’t realise how special they were to so many people. We should take every opportunity to make others feel special. Give that compliment you’re thinking in your head. Smile to that stranger in the street. Encourage that checkout chick who has been robotically scanning grocery items for the last 6 hours. Tell that mum with the screaming child that she’s doing a great job and that it does get better. Do that something that makes you special to make others feel special and you’ll find that in doing so, you will feel special too.

And remember: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!! 🙂20140716-121256-43976026.jpg

My Personal Trainer

I’ve just discovered the best Personal Trainer ever! He knows my body and what it needs and makes a plan that suits me individually. Not only that, but he is an experienced counsellor too, so with his help I’m working through those habits and toxic thought patterns that are keeping me from being all I can be. He sees potential in me that I have forgotten or not recognized. He seems to genuinely care for me and all his clients equally. He has a knack of getting right to the heart of a matter. He points out what needs changing in a caring & loving manner & provides a way to do it, offering support the whole time. He understands that none of his clients are the same and caters for and values our individuality & diversity. However, he also finds opportunities for us to work together and encourages us to give priority to others, build each other up & cheer each other on, to create unity and harmony, whilst retaining our uniqueness.

All this he offers free of charge!!! Can you believe it?! Do you want to know how to contact him? His name is JESUS CHRIST and you simply call on him from wherever you are, at whatever time & whichever stage of your life. Tell him that you really need him; that you’ve tried everything else & nothing seems to be working; that you’ve put your best effort in & still seem to be missing the mark. He will hear you and will meet you where you are at. He doesn’t judge you. He accepts you and loves you, no matter how many times or how badly you’ve failed. He’s willing to work with you and give you a clean slate each day, as long as you’re willing to admit you need his help and can’t make it on your own efforts. Your perfectionist attitudes only cause you frustration because you can never meet your own standards. His standards are way higher & he knows you can’t meet them without his intervention.

The good news is that he’s already done everything on the cross at Calvary to qualify you for being on his team. He gives each person his robe of righteousness as their uniform for Team Jesus, so that when his Father, God, sees us, He sees Jesus. God then gives us the right to be called his children and this qualifies us to have the same rights and inheritance as His Son, Jesus. We are adopted; treated as His own; given His name & the same privileges as Jesus. In addition, He offers us unconditional love and unending forgiveness and mercy.

Seem too good to be true? Why don’t you take up the free trial? The New Year is just around the corner. Make it your resolution to try Jesus as your personal trainer and see the results for yourself.

God creates. The devil distorts.

God is the creator. Satan is the destroyer of creation. He can’t actually create anything himself, except chaos.

We are created in God’s image, but the devil tries to distort that by lying to us and saying we could never measure up.

The thing is that the Bible never says we can make ourselves into God’s image, but that he has already made us like Him. Not only that, but he lives in us, when we ask Him to be Lord of our life. We should strive to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), but we are only made complete in Christ. He makes up our lack, and for me, that’s definitely the greater portion!!!

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That means you are His dwelling place; His home. So when the devil comes knocking at the door, wake up that Spirit man, rise up and say, “We don’t want any!”. If you accidentally open that door, slam it in his face as fast as you can!! When he tries calling (that little annoying voice in your head) say “Wrong number!” and HANG UP!

Satan is our former master and he’s not happy that Jesus’ innocent blood paid for us to be set free. He won’t just leave you alone and go, “Oh well, lost that one!” He’ll try anything to turn you away from your new Master, Jesus, and keep you from your true destiny & inheritance.

He’ll even try to distort the Word of God and turn it against you. “God says he rejects the proud. You are prideful, so he must reject you! God says he doesn’t have favourites, but that person seems to be blessed a whole lot more than you. God’s Word says that if you have the Holy Spirit, you will display the fruit of the spirit, and you seem to be really failing at that! Do you even have one of the nine?!”

I mentioned the armour of God in my blog on being a perfectionist. It IS a battle we are in, but we are not fighting flesh and blood, but the spiritual forces of this dark world! We must put on God’s armour to stand strong against the devil’s tricks. We can’t do it alone. As I mentioned, spiritual warfare requires spiritual weapons: God’s Word, Truth, Righteousness, Salvation, Faith, and the Gospel of Peace. We have to be assured of these things and wear them as full body armour. Nothing and nobody else can help us.

The good news is that God is on our side. He is for us, with us, within us, beside us, behind us and goes before us. We stand in His strength & the victory Jesus has already won! We just need to remind the devil of his defeat and where he is ultimately headed and that he is NOT taking you or me with him!!!

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You’ve Got a Friend

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How many close friends do you have? I’m talking about people who you would share the deep stuff with; people you can be completely transparent with; people who know you intimately, not including family or your partner. I recently heard this question posed by Craig Groeschel in his series of podcasts on “Friending” and found myself barely being able to raise all fingers on one hand. I thought maybe this was normal, until he went on to mention that only about 25 years ago the average person had 5-6 close friends! Things like social media and just living what I like to call “our crazy 21st Century life” mean that the average person has a lot of connections, but very few of them are deep and meaningful.

Social media is great, but we have to be careful to use it as a supplement to, rather than a replacement of, real face-to-face relationships. You often find out a lot of information about someone, but not in an intimate way. Even now as I type this, I’m feeling guilty that I’m sitting side-by-side with my husband but not speaking with him. I’ve also spent time looking at my phone and laughing over the amusing posts of my friends when my own family is sitting right in front of me, waiting for me to connect with them. Guess I’ll come back to this later then…

The thing about social media is that the majority of us tend to post only the best things – the best experiences, the best purchases, the best one-liners, the best compliments someone gave us, and of course the best selfies with the best angles! I love this quote from Steven Furtick: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is that we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel!” I am sooooo guilty of this! While you sit behind your computer screen it seems like everyone is out having fun without you, projecting to the world how great their life is, how amazing their partner is, how much they love their other friends and how great their kids are. It’s easy to feel despondent and second-rate, especially when those friends get 60+ likes for a post while you’re lucky to get 10, unless it’s your birthday. Instead of building relationships, we start building resentment.

Maybe I’ve helped create this myself. When I first joined Facebook, I took a friend’s advice to try to keep my statuses positive and not post negative stuff. I still think that’s a good idea, being a very public forum, but we need friends who we can be real with too. Craig Groeschel says, “We may impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses.” I love this, because I am flawed to the max and not afraid to admit it! Bring on the friends!!! Haha! Isn’t it true though? When you have a D&M (deep and meaningful conversation) with someone, you feel a connection with them, like they really get you; they have compassion or empathy for your situation or feelings. Of course, we have to be careful not to become dependent on those relationships or they can become draining, usually for one person more than the other.

Our friends play a huge role in our lives and we allow them a lot of influence over us. Craig’s catchphrase is, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your destiny. You are only one friend away from changing the course of your destiny.” He goes on to mention three types of friends that are essential to have:

1. A friend who makes us better; who sees more than we see in ourselves; who sees what God sees in us.

2. A friend who helps us to find spiritual strength in the Lord.

3. A friend who will tell us the truth.

Not only do we need friends like these, but we need to BE friends like these.

We also need to be part of a community. Not just an online community, but a group of friends to share life with. Friends who will be with you in the good times and the bad and not just leave because you had a disagreement. Friends who see you at your worst and love you enough to tell you the truth and help you through to your breakthrough. Friends who encourage you to keep going, to stick in there with your marriage, your job, your church, your dreams. We are stronger together than we are alone. We need people. According to the song, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

A fun way to really know how many people you are in close community with is to ask yourself this: How many homes do I have “refrigerator rights” to? How many people have “refrigerator rights” in my house? (again, excluding family members). I’m talking about people who can come over and help themselves to your fridge or pantry and you won’t blink an eye. Once again, I found myself thinking of one, maybe two families. Craig suggests any less than four and you’re missing out on all God wants for you. Seems I need to do some work here.

On the flip side of all this, perhaps you need to think about whether you should redefine your inner circle relationships. You don’t want to let ANY friends distract you from God’s plan for your life. If they truly love you, they will want what’s best for you, not what’s best for them with you. You can still love them, but you may need to spend less time with them and not allow them as much influence in your life.

I love having friends, but I’ve found that I’ve let my relationships slide of late. Full-time work, plus trying to be a good wife and mother, running my own business, being in music ministry and everything in-between leaves little time for nurturing friendships. However, things have to change. I keep thinking of that BCF ad: That ain’t livin’!! Jesus came so that we could live an abundant life! The devil tries his best to steal and destroy that. So, first I have to look around me and recognize the abundance that is already there and be grateful for it. Then I need to make sure I’m nurturing and loving it, instead of undervaluing what I have. At the heart of all this, as always, I need to receive God’s grace to do everything I have to do.

Life is not meant to lived by ourselves or for ourselves. We were created for relationship. We miss out on so much when we don’t allow others in. When I die, I hope that the church will be packed and overflowing out the door with the people whose lives I’ve made a difference in, but even more, I hope that I run out of fingers to count the people I can truly call close friends.

Perfectionists, Procrastinators, Pianists, Paul & Pantene!

My friend recently posted a great blog about getting caught in the trap of perfection, something I’m an expert on, so I thought I’d share my thoughts, struggles and experiences on being a perfectionist….and being married to a perfectionist and having children who are perfectionists! ARGH! The funny thing is that I don’t expect perfection from anyone else except myself! One of the most commonly heard phrases to my ears is, “Don’t be so hard on yourself!”
 
I put much of my own issue with demanding perfection from myself down to being a musician. I love being a musician & am thankful for the privilege, but when you’re learning to play an instrument and any piece of music or technical work you need to get it right. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Practice makes perfect”, right? Then some wise guy came up with “PERFECT practice makes perfect!” Thanks buddy! Like I didn’t have enough pressure beforehand! Not only are we trying to achieve this perfection for ourselves but also to please our teacher and/or parents! Then come exams and eisteddfods where people actually judge you on how perfect or not you are, and I’m not just talking about the examiners and adjudicators, but the other competitors and their parents!
 
Enter Stage Right the evil henchman of Perfectionism, known as Comparison. He is all talk, and not the sweet kind – more like an annoying heckler who won’t shut up, bringing you down at every opportunity. Comparison has his own hired goons: Jealousy, Pride & Anger. They are pretty much inseparable and wreak havoc wherever they go. They may be subtle at first, a negative thought or word here and there, but you’d better run for your life when you see them coming. Once they grab hold of your mind, you’ll have a full-blown battle on your hands, which can last for years with many casualties, especially those closest to you.
 
I’m no expert on physical war, but I’m getting a fair bit of experience in spiritual warfare. It would be very unwise to go into battle unprotected, without weapons, armour and training. Just watching Les Misérables can show you what is likely to happen when you take on an army unprepared. It’s no different when battling things like fear and emotions and other derivatives of the soul. Physical war requires physical weapons. Spiritual war requires spiritual weapons.

Paul, a great guy from the 1st Century AD, writes about “The Armour of God” in Ephesians 6 in the Bible. There is the Breastplate of Righteousness, to protect your heart. The heart is the engine room of the body. When it stops, we die. Jesus’ death and resurrection means that when we accept Him as our Saviour, we take on His righteousness (holiness; absence of guilt or sin). It literally covers us, like full body armour. The Belt of Truth holds our armour in place and protects our ability to reproduce ourselves! The scabbard for the sword is also connected to the belt. I am a huge fan of truth. Not only should we speak truthfully, but when we know the truth of God’s Word in our inner being it will set us free.  Wearing the Shoes of Peace help us walk in peace, sharing God’s love and message of hope wherever we go. The Shield of Faith is vital to hold up against all the attacks of the enemy.  In faith you deflect those accusations. In faith you believe for healing. In faith you stand in God’s strength when there is nothing else you can do. The Helmet of Salvation protects your mind. You need to know who you are and whose you are when those niggling thoughts start creeping in.  Finally, the only actual offensive weapon of them all: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Yes, it can be used in defence, but better to have it unsheathed and ready for action to ward off any uninvited intruders. Paul instructs us to put on this armour, so you may need to imagine yourself actually putting it on (I’m preaching to myself here)!

I’m not going to kid you into thinking that it’s easy or instant. Remember the old Pantene TV ad, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”? It’s a constant renewing of the mind; replacing lies with truth; negatives with positives. Some days will be great – in fact, probably a majority will be– but if you start slacking off with being alert to these attacks and not nipping them in the bud immediately, before you know it you’ll be in the middle of another battle you never saw coming. Don’t give the devil a foothold in your life! He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. You must resist him and his lies. God has given you everything you need to do everything He has planned for you – that includes overcoming every obstacle.

Don’t wait! Something I discovered a few years back is that perfectionists are often also procrastinators. This is because we’re always waiting for that perfect opportunity to do that thing we’ve been trying to do. “In the school holidays…”, “when Mum comes to visit…”, “when I have my day off…” Even the Bible says that the farmer who waits until conditions are perfect before planting, will never sow & hence never reap a harvest. I’m still learning to make this a regular part of my life, but doing small chunks regularly is better than waiting til “the perfect time” to get it all done at once. I should know this!! I tell my piano students this ALL the time in regards to practicing – better to practice shorter amounts regularly than do one big practice the night before your lesson!

As my friend mentioned, it is up to us to take responsibility for ourselves. Our friends and family can’t do it for us, though we certainly need them to support us through it. We need to admit our faults and failures, but not just leave it there. If it’s a problem for you and it’s keeping you from all God wants for you, then you need to take steps to do something about it. Just start changing one thing to begin with. If you have a bad day, don’t stay there. Take authority over those condemning thoughts and ask God for His empowering grace to get back up and keep going. He will give you as much grace as you need, but most of all, you need to give yourself grace. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Speak well of yourself. Loving others as you love yourself means you have to learn how to love yourself first to be able to give away love!! And don’t you deserve it?

You can read the original blog which inspired this response at http://meganricho.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/perfection-is-a-myth-take-responsibility-to-not-be-perfect/

Just one look & you’ll be hooked (again)

Day 28: Oct 13, 2013

Today marks 28 days since I decided to do a social media detox, being mostly of Facebook and Instagram, as I don’t use Twitter or anything else much. I have since discovered that blogging actually qualifies as social media, which I was not aware of when I first began writing about my experience!

I have to confess that, following last week’s post on Instagram, I found myself checking it a couple of times a day again!!! Argh! I had to reinstall the app to post the pic, but it didn’t take long for me to see posts that made me feel inadequate and insecure again. (Sigh). So I deleted it again.

There was an event I was involved in on the weekend which I wanted to help advertise, so it was back to Facebook for me. I tried to be diligent in just posting what I had to and then “gettin’ the heck outta Dodge”, but the temptation to scroll was strong and I succumbed. Of course, once you start scrolling you start liking and commenting and then people comment back and asking if you’ve returned to the FB fold! That is one of the strange phenomena of FB: the overwhelming social acceptance of new and returning members. It’s like, “I once was lost but now I’m found” because I’ve come back to FB!?! On the other extreme, if you decide to leave or take a break from FB, there are no scathing comments; only “we’ll miss you”, “you’re so brave”, I wish I could do that” and “come back soon.” Has FB become a kind of online cult?!

I’ve recently been challenged with evaluating things in my life that I may be putting above God and even my family. I do believe that God has to come first in everything but I don’t know that I always live that. How much time do we spend online compared with in prayer or reading the Bible? We’re happy to spend hours a day reading everybody else’s opinions and updates on their every move and yet give little thought to what God might be trying to say to us and how He wants to move through us.

Someone recently said that when you want to make a change in your life, just start with one thing. That one thing will naturally flow into other related things as you start seeing the benefits of the first change. I’m seeing the benefits of cutting back from my social media usage, so I think it’s a change for the better. At least for me.

3 Weeks Without Social Media

Day 21 – 6 Oct 2013

I just caved and took my first selfie in three weeks – or maybe I should say SET of selfies, as I’m sure I took about 20 shots to get just the right angle with the best light, best smile, minimal bags and wrinkles, not too revealing and without that stupid plastic bag in the background! I then had to reload Instagram onto my phone again, select the best picture of the set and start cropping and filtering. Oh, but what if it’s better in PicFrame or LemeLeme or Pic Lab?! No, back to good ol’ faithful Instagram. Now, do I actually go au naturel or apply that filter? After all, it’s also the first day in about 6 weeks that I’ve been able to wear makeup on my face due to a skin condition, so it might be acceptable without a filter….but that Sierra one really evens out my skin tone and just lights everything nicely. Right, now for the perfect blurb to go with my pic. Where’s that verse I was thinking of? Google search brings up three options. Hmm, okay I’ll check out all three in another website. But which version to use? Okay, copy and paste, attach to photo and make sure it’s linked to Facebook and away we go! Phew! That only took…..37 minutes?!?!? What?!? (Okay, I didn’t actually time it, but I think that’s a pretty close estimate)

Are you getting my point? What seems like a harmless little post is actually eating up valuable minutes of your day! Maybe it’s just the perfectionists like me out there that have this issue. Maybe you just snap and post or have that brilliant thought and type it without revising and making sure you’ve said absolutely everything you could. Perhaps you CAN give your children and partner your absolute undivided attention whilst pondering the perfect post or photoshopping the perfect pic. Maybe it’s just me with this problem…

Someone recently asked if my family or I had noticed any changes in the quality of my life since being essentially offline in regards to social media. I can honestly say that I have. My family hasn’t obliged with uplifting comments on how I’m paying them more attention and actually looking them in the eyes when engaging in conversation, which I’m a little bit glad about actually! My husband surely has noticed a difference. He is the one who verbalises most about me spending more time maintaining relationships with my friends online than I do with the people actually around me. Although I think that’s a little overstated, he’s onto something we all need to be conscious of when spending time online. Am I forsaking those around me, who are keen to engage in face to face conversation and activity, for a massive online community who I struggle to keep up with?

I saw on one of those video links I posted recently that we are only really able to maintain a fairly low number of relationships – even less at a deep, personal, authentic level – yet we attempt to maintain contact with hundreds or thousands of people online! It’s actually not possible and not what is required of us either. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV) If we can get this right – love God and love people – it doesn’t matter if we have 2 friends or 1362. We need less selfies and more people being selfless. Live life to please God and surely you can’t go wrong.

Tie Love around your neck (Prov 3:3)

Tie Love around your neck (Prov 3:3)

Two Weeks Without Social Media

Day 16 – 1/10/13

The second week of being offline was made easier in that our family went camping for the second time ever. My husband and I had decided beforehand that it would be a no-phone-zone experience, both for ourselves and the kids. Of course, the kids got their fix in the car on the way to our destination. Upon arrival we left devices in the car, occasionally pulling them out to check the weather, fishing guides and any messages.

For the first time in a few years there were no pictures posted online of our holiday destination, no tagging of people with us, no check-ins, no selfies of us relaxing and, most noticeably, no time spent checking Facebook and Instagram for Likes and Comments of the above posts.

I used our actual camera, instead of my phone, to take holiday snaps of the family. It’s a fantastic camera, far superior to the one in my phone, yet I noticed the other day that we’ve hardly used it all year. Don’t get me wrong, cameras in phones are much better today than the digital stills function on our video camera that we used to take photos of our firstborn nearly 11 years ago, yet I find myself sacrificing the clarity and “zoomability” of our digital SLR for the instant cropping, filtering and uploading available on my phone, all for the sake of some online approval.

I’m a bit of a “Words of Affirmation” girl myself – look up “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman if you’ve never heard of these – so I tend to thrive on the nice things you all say about me. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I totally get this. I have actually kept cards and notes, even encouraging text messages, that people have sent me over the years. While I haven’t made a habit of regularly reviewing them to boost my self-esteem, there is that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when rediscovering them. I guess it’s the same with the comments, likes and followers on social media. They can become addictive. Do famous people like Justin Bieber and Joyce Meyer even notice that they have 100 likes in 30 seconds?! Meanwhile, the rest of us get excited if we get 2 likes in a minute! How often do you go back and check the responses to your post? Do you get excited when that little red circle with a number in it shows up on your FB app? When that certain tone sounds, does your heart beat a little faster and you think, “Yay! Somebody loves me!”? I’ve been guilty of all of these. This is partly why I’ve needed to take a break from social media.

I can’t rely on the love and encouragement of people to keep me going if I’m having a hard time. People aren’t perfect and ultimately they will disappoint us in some way, even those most close to us. The only one I can rely on is God and what He says about me. He is faithful, true to His word, never-changing; He is Love itself. There is so much that He wants us to know about Him and how much He loves every one of us. There is nothing that can separate us from His love (Rom 8:38). His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:23 ). You are the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8, Ps 17:8). His loving thoughts about you outnumber the grains of sand on the beach (Ps 139:18). He cares for you affectionately and watchfully (1 Pet 5:7). He has a plan for your life that will prosper you and give you hope and a future (Jer 29:11). These are just some of the affirmations from the One who created me that I need to cling to, more than the Likes and Comments of my friends online. I encourage you also to search out what God says about you and hold fast to those promises.

Life Without FB: Day 7

Sept 22, 2013

Ooh, what happened to Day 6?! I was so busy hanging out with my family, practicing piano, reading a book, having Skype conversations and attending an engagement party that I didn’t have time to even think about social media or blogging! 😉 Actually, that’s a pretty big deal as Saturdays, our only real “day off” as a family, are often squandered lazing around on our phones and i-devices. And don’t you always find that you’re kicking yourself afterwards for wasting your precious spare time online?

Having said that, 7 days without social media has felt like 7 weeks or 7 months! I won’t lie and say I don’t miss it. I do and am tempted to go online several times a day. Confession: I am now finding myself wanting to regularly check my blog site for comments and stats!! (face palm!) But I am determined to keep going with my Social Media Detox so that when it comes time to reintegrate, it will be with some healthier mindsets and boundaries.

I probably won’t continue to blog daily from now on, unless of course I discover something fascinating that I simply must share!! I hope to branch out into other topics too, now that I’ve made my way into the blogosphere. We’ll see. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day”…without social media. (Ok that last bit was mine!) 😉