In Blog We Trust

“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous- to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.” – Thomas Mann

I love technology! I love movies that I can watch at home, music I can listen to at home, games I can play by myself at home, social media which helps me communicate with friends and family at home. I can take technology anywhere and have it all at my fingertips. What an amazing thing to be able to do anywhere and everywhere. Technology is so amazing, however, that a large majority of us, myself included, are beguiled to a point that we no longer look up to see what living, breathing people are waiting to talk to us, show us something, climb into our laps, go out for coffee, ask for our advice in person, hire us, promote us, teach us, or learn from us.

How ironic is it that social media makes us less social? I was soo struck by the sad irony of this phenomenon, in fact, that I had to take a break in the middle of writing this blog post to turn around and ignore my computer instead of my family. It’s been several days now and I am actively trying to engage my family more and more often, in spite of the seductive pull of the “time-waster” sitting on my desk. Today is the last day of school for my four older children. I will have an entire summer of chances to interact with my kids since everyone’s schedule will be more flexible. Am I up to the challenge?

People are demanding. They want our actual attention when they talk to us. They talk about things we don’t want to talk about. They say things we can’t control. They feel. This can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and irritating at times, but wading through the “peopleness” of people is how we build relationships. It is also the way we connect with God. Thankfully, God is ever patient with his children. I’m sure we can be tiresome, especially when he knows that oftentimes we know better.

The point of this post today isn’t about tolerance for the sometimes annoying habits of the people all around us. I’m not trying to convince anyone that technology, in general, or social media, in particular, is evil. I LOVE these innovations! I am, however, advocating balance. It’s funny sometimes which words make people cringe. For Christians certain over-used “buzzwords” like balance, proactive, centered, empower, etc, can really be “deal breakers”. (Ha ha) Balance, however is a Biblical concept first advocated by God himself.

“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” – ECCLESIASTES 7:16-18 NIV

Perhaps the answer to the dilemma of the time-sink that is the internet is not to be found in a cold turkey avoidance approach. Technology can be a wonderful tool. We would also be seriously kidding ourselves to think that we could dismiss it as a passing fad. Technology and social media are here to stay. We do need to establish some boundaries (another cringe-worthy buzzword). Just like the telephone or visitors to your front door, YOU are the one who has the power to set the limits for yourself and your family. Would you allow a guest to come into your house in the middle of the night for an unexpected, non-emergency cup of coffee? Does just anyone in the world have permission to enter your home? I seriously hope your answer is no to these questions. As the song goes, “We are the world.” Are you reading thios and other blogs when you should be doing something else, like plunging the bathroom sink, changing the baby, writing a report, reviewing your child’s homework, etc? These words will wait for you, life will not. The entire internet will wait for you. Your life is ticking away a second at a time, just as mine is. What is filling your time?

The mystery and beauty that is the internet is chock full of nuts certainly, but ultimately of dreams. As it was said by Dumbledore in the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” Since we cannot take Harry Potter as our ultimate authority for life, naturally, we must also look to what God says about this.

“KEEP YOUR foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil. [Gen. 35:1-4; Exod. 3:5.] Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter a word before God. For God is in heaven, and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business and painful effort, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow or make a pledge to God, do not put off paying it; for God has no pleasure in fools (those who witlessly mock Him). Pay what you vow. [Ps. 50:14; 66:13, 14; 76:11.] It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. [Prov. 20:25; Acts 5:4.] Do not allow your mouth to cause your body to sin, and do not say before the messenger [the priest] that it was an error or mistake. Why should God be [made] angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? [Mal. 2:7.] For in a multitude of dreams there is futility and worthlessness, and ruin in a flood of words. But [reverently] fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is]. If you see the oppression of the poor and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in the state or province, do not marvel at the matter. [Be sure that there are those who will attend to it] for a higher [official] than the high is observing, and higher ones are over them.” – ECCLESIASTES 5:1-8 AMP

So much information can be found on the internet, for self improvement, for crafts, for DIY projects, for help with marital issues, and on it goes. The rabbit trails that we are led upon do not benefit us unless we turn from our “information gathering” and actually live them out! I have seen a small portion of the blogs available for perusal online. They have inspired and challenged me. I must live my life, though, not just read about living my life, not just sit by the window and dream like Bilbo Baggins.

When it comes to the passage above, it may seem rather confusing. If you see this in the light of daydreaming, it’s not too difficult to connect some dots. When we daydream, or use our imaginations, or over-think about things, including serious life situations such as injustice, oppression, and evil, we risk not ever actually doing anything about any of it. You and I may not be capable of righting all wrongs and saving every victim; but we can all do something about the day to day we are faced with in our own neighborhoods and lives. It doesn’t do us any good to get all worked up and show God our superhero capes during prayer and rant and rave about how much we can do when God is on our sides, if we never take any kind of action. (This is especially convicting to me I must admit.) Don’t only think about your life. Live your life. 

“Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality,
Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.
And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.
Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.
Food [is intended] for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will finally end [the functions of] both and bring them to nothing. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again].
And God both raised the Lord to life and will also raise us up by His power.
Do you not see and know that your bodies are members (bodily parts) of Christ (the Messiah)? Am I therefore to take the parts of Christ and make [them] parts of a prostitute? Never! Never!
Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh. [Gen. 2:24.]
But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.
Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,
You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” – 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-20 AMP

Be Still and Know…

“There are times when parenthood seems nothing more than feeding the hand that bites you” – Peter De Vries

Blogging has become a very therapeutic  activity for me. Sometimes it helps me just to make sense of the world and my place in it. If I can encourage other people while I’m at it, then all to the good. Sometimes, however, my being a mom tends to get in the way of things I really want to do, like blogging, or learning to quilt, or taking a shower. I’m sure a lot of parents can sympathize with me on this one.

On 9/11, I had a great ( in my mind) blog post all worked out…… somehow did NOT work out…..or even several days later, when a young, lovely girl here in our local high school that has a graduating class of less than 200, who took her life after school. I wanted to exhort, encourage, I wanted to say something profound and shed a little sunshine into otherwise dark and depressing times. My job as a mom took precedence, however, as wisdom reminds me….it is supposed to do just that.

Even though my family is warm and dry and well-fed and protected and all the blessings we hope and pray for our families to have, I often feel that  am missing out on something big, something I could have done, or said, or written, or experienced…. I know I am not alone in this, either. There are scores of books and movies about women (and men) who override this immediacy of parenthood and run off unshackled into the sunset to pursue their dreams. They live happily ever after, for the most part, in those stories. Why doesn’t everyone do this then? Why don’t we have generation after generation of orphans instead of these silently exhausted and stressed-out masses who find it difficult to have a normal adult conversation without recounting so-and-so’s bodily functions for the day?

Perhaps parents everywhere, on every continent, know the secret to being a parent and keeping their life’s light of hope still burning. Perhaps these parents have learned that there are not stretches of eternity….not in this life…..but seasons that are ever-changing, each beautiful for its own characteristics. Maybe they know that there will be days in the future when the little inconveniences and annoyances and heartaches we endure for our children’s sake (and sometimes because of them), will fade and leave mostly happy memories and funny stories in their place.  I try to remind myself this on days when I feel overwhelmed and want to run away and hide, after selling all of my children to the gypsies….or the circus….or maybe the bargain bin at Grocery Outlet. The frantic need for peace and quiet claws at me and makes my best intentions seem quite thin at other times. What I am left with is a simple verse out of the Bible:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

I must trust that my days as “Mommy” who wipes noses, tears and bottoms, listens to silly stories and book reports, corrects papers, and on the list goes, will one day change and I will be more like Dear Abby, giving advice and listening from afar. I will miss this and will probably not feel like doing the things I think I am missing out on now. Those things I’m missing, aren’t worth my time as much as these little adored human beings I am responsible to raise to giving, living, loving adulthood. In the end, I don’t think my most important work is being left behind. I think being a mom is the most important thing I will ever do, even when my wildest dreams come true, as some of them surely will. Let me encourage you, also, with this ridiculous stream-of-consciousness rambling that I am doing. God sees what you do, your children see what you do, others see what you do. A good parent is priceless. Don’t undermine your day in and day out job of teaching someone how to be an amazing human by doubting if it’s all worth it. It is. They are. You are. One day things will change. When they do, be able to look back fondly on memories of how you invested in these small ones who looked to you for everything. Be still, and know that He is God. You’ve got this; and He’s got you.

“God is our refuge and strength,an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1-11