“Laden with guilt and full of fears, I saw my Savior as my Substitute, and I laid my hand upon him; oh! how timidly at first, but courage grew and confidence was confirmed until I leaned my soul entirely upon him; and now it is my unceasing joy to know that my sins are no longer imputed to me, but laid on him, and like the debts of the wounded traveller, Jesus, like the good Samaritan, has said of all my future sinfulness, Set that to my account.'” Blessed discovery! Eternal solace of a grateful heart!” – Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, April 13th PM
Have you ever had a migraine? The kind when you have to cancel your plans for the day. Turn off the lights. Lay in bed. Every sound and smell; the sensation of light on your eyes, makes the pain worse. Basically, all of your senses are on overload. And maybe you had a fun day-out planned, or perhaps it was supposed to be just a regular boring day at home with a long to-do list…
But instead, you have to set your kids up with a movie (or two), and a drink and a snack (or two!) while you lay quiet in bed and wait for the pain to go away. Maybe you have to call a friend or family member to help you watch your kids or do your laundry. Because you’ve tried all your go-to remedies, and they’re not making a dent. There’s nothing you can do except to rest and wait it out. And desperately hope/pray that tomorrow is better.
Or, have you ever had just a *normal* headache? I’m sure you can relate. The kind where you can pop a Tylenol, or drink a hot mug of peppermint tea. And it knocks out the pain for the most part. You can get on with your day, even though maybe you’d prefer to lay in bed if it were up to you! You have responsibilities, and the dull discomfort is there, but you can push through it and mostly think clearly.
Anxiety and depression looks and feels like that in my life sometimes.
People might be surprised to learn that anxiety and depression are a nearly constant battle of mine.
I’ve been hesitant to share this for most of my life. My biggest fear is that people will think, “She seems so happy all the time, I should have known she was faking!!”
I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, been praised for being such a happy person.
My God-given disposition, my resting face you could say, is a smile. It’s not a fake smile. And my cheerful persona isn’t fake. I’ll try to explain.
Depression, just a dark sadness cloud that lingers around my head, usually for no reason!, has been lingering around since I was a young teen. Anxiety, just a feeling of being scared, so scared you can’t breathe at times! , has been there off and on since I was a child.
But my anxiety has become so much worse since I got Lyme disease. I always say that panic attacks were my first symptom of Lyme actually. The anxious feeling, which once was only a mental thing, became such a physical thing.
I remember the first time it hit me. I was standing at the sink trying to do the dishes, while my girls fluttered around me like butterflies, wanting my attention. It truly felt like someone had their hands on my shoulders and was pushing down hard. Then that same pressing-down feeling would come to my neck and to the top of my head. It was summertime, and the air conditioning was doing it’s job to make our house nice and cool, but I went crazy thinking it wasn’t working. I was always feeling so hot. I couldn’t breathe or think clearly.
Part of me knew I just needed to do the dishes, to instruct my girls to go and play and give Mommy a minute to finish. But, figuratively speaking, the other part of me felt like I was running away from a lion.
My depression that comes and goes is much easier to deal with, honestly. I can pray, I can read scripture. I can pour over vintage hymn lyrics that are rich with theology that encourages and cheers my soul, despite the pain. I can take my vitamin D and my 5htp.
There might be a dark cloud that comes over me some days. But there is a silver lining of God’s goodness and great love and faithfulness that I can’t deny. This is the reason you see a smile on my face most of the time. It’s rooted there. In Him.
My panic attacks are so much harder. I just dread them. The awful, *real* physical feeling. Having a migraine would be much easier to describe! But it’s anxiety. Some days it’s like a dull headache that I can press through. And some days it’s like a migraine that has me down for the count for an entire day, or more. I know Lyme has contributed, but knowing that doesn’t help the pain go away.
On one hand, I really don’t want to share this! Because I don’t want people to look at me differently! But on the other, I want to share it. Because the Bible tells me that depending on Him in my weakness will make me stronger. So I don’t have to be ashamed.
And I want to share it because I’m sure there are many of you out there who just appear happy to the outside world, but inside you are in turmoil. I hope my story can encourage you that you’re not alone! That God loves you and wants to comfort you and be there for you. And that He has a purpose in your suffering.
I also wanted to share because there is so much going on in this world in which mental health is discussed and debated. And maybe I can be a face for you to put with the discussions. By God’s grace, my anxiety and depression hasn’t led me to do anything harmful to others. But it has in the past, before I understood the Gospel, led me to do things harmful to myself. And whenever I hear stories of people with anxiety who are brought to a place in which they harm others, my heart aches. It’s a complicated ache…
But with God’s grace, that ache can turn to praise. As I remember that someday, all pain -including anxiety and depression and mental illness pain- will be banished forever! God did not intend for this kind of pain to be part of His world, but because of sin, it is. And because of the Gospel, I can rejoice and praise Him as I look forward to the day it will be taken away. From me. From loved ones who struggle in a similar way. And perhaps from you too?
“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. ” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 51:11
Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds you so much dread,
Are big with mercy, and shall break,
With blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace.
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
God Moves in a Mysterious Way,
William Cowper, 1774
“Smooth let it be, or rough-
it will still be the best.
Winding or straight it leads
right onward to Thy rest.”
When I picture my family, months ago, standing before this path of Lyme disease… it looks like an ugly and dangerous turn, full of scary shadows and darkness and dead foliage.
I imagine myself calling out, “Why are we going down this way; what are you doing Lord?” Desperately wanting to turn back, like “Surely there has to be another path towards holiness and joy!” But God kept calling us down this dark path,telling us we can trust Him. Reminding us of the promises in His Word.
And it took a little while, but
before too long, as we walked along that scary path,
the loveliest colors and sweetest flowers began to unfold at our feet,
as His promises were proving true.
Slowly we began to relax, feeling silly for ever doubting our Faithful Father.
My family is closer than we ever have been. There has been so much redemption in our marriage, and in a difficult relationship with our daughter. We are seeing growth we never thought possible. I am crying my eyes out almost every Sunday during worship because the Gospel is more real to me than ever! We wouldn’t trade this beauty for the world.
And all I can attribute it to is the faithfulness of God.
His mercy, His love, His kindness.
I have been feeling a lot better lately. We found a new treatment and have been having such great results. “Rejoicing, and ready to get on with life” is the best way to describe my heart these days.
So I was all excited this week when I went to my chiropractor appointment, “I’m feeling better, is it safe to start trying for a baby?” I was crushed when he said I should wait a couple more months till the Lyme is consistently not showing up.
Of course, my husband and I are perfectly at liberty to follow our doctor’s advice, or not. The chiropractor said so himself.
But of course, I was hoping for a sure and definite “Yes, absolutely! You can go ahead and get on with your life-plans now.”
That familiar temptation to bitterness crept back in. And that familiar “Lord, where are You taking me?!” feeling returned.
When I talked to my husband about it later, I was hoping for some sympathy. Instead he graciously and firmly told me God is trying to remind me that my satisfaction can only be found in Him. I didn’t like that comment in the moment. But, Oh! He was so right.
We had it planned for a couple years: in Fall 2017 I would be pregnant. “A little before, or a little after Sadie turns 3”, that was our plan. And I must admit, this is the one area of our life effected by Lyme that just seems like too much for me!
I thought Lyme was going to stop getting in the way of things,
but here it was again staring me square in the eye.
This feels so personal and vulnerable, but I just want to share how God is meeting me. Here right in the middle of Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
I opened my devotional the next morning, feeling bitterness and knowing I needed God’s Word. And the Lord lifted my face toward Him with a simple line from Psalm 103. A verse I’ve heard hundreds of times, but it’s like I was reading it for the first time.
Vs11″ For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.”
As far as the heavens are above the earth? I had seen this verse on coffee mugs and canvas Sunday-school-teacher bags, but never really stopped to ponder it. The devotional I was reading compared it to the children’s storybook line “I love you to the moon and back.”
Tears of joy filled my eyes, and peace flooded my heart. God didn’t hit me with a verse that morning about my sin and pride, He gave me a verse about His love for me. That’s all I needed! “Bitterness dissolves when I remember the love with which He has for me.”, said Elisabeth Elliot.
And for these last few days, the simple act of looking up at the sky has just been such a treat. As I drive my girls around; as we play outside in the cold for a few minutes, as I peek out the window while I wash dishes, or run out to get the mail—
I feel like He is inviting me to look up at the sky, ponder it’s vastness, and remember that “so great” is His steadfast love toward me. And since that is true, anything He brings my way -all the paths that take turns I dare not choose- will be made sweet and beautiful by that love.
Verse 12 makes it all the more meaningful,
“as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions…”
because there again is the Gospel- where the fullness of His steadfast love was put on display, in all it’s power and wonder. He took my place. He has removed My transgressions. Hallelujah.
Another interesting way God has reached out to me this past week: on Revive Our Hearts Radio. A lady named Sarah Walton is telling her story of God’s faithfulness in trial. Her trial? Lyme disease! And she has passed it on to her children. She wrote a book, and I am going to have to read it. In the meantime, I commented on her blog and asked her what’s she thought about pregnancy and Lyme.
Her reply was prompt, and kind and sweet. And she didn’t tell me, one way or the other, what I *should* do. Instead, she simply told me to seek God. And that’s exactly what I needed to hear.
“Thank you so much for taking the time to write! Yes, it would certainly be an easier conversation to have over coffee! : ) But since that isn’t possible, I first want to say that I want to be careful not to push you one way or another. That isn’t my place and I don’t know if anyone has a clear answer as to what is right or not. But what I will say that I have learned over the years in this area is…we should seek to make decisions with wisdom rather than out of fear. It’s obviously good that we listen to the advise of doctors and I think it’s good to consider different viewpoints. In the end, however, I’m thankful for the children that God has given us…Lyme Disease, struggles, disappointments, and all. In our case, we were ignorant to the fact that I had Lyme and could pass it on, but my husband and I have both said multiple times that we are thankful that we didn’t know in some ways, because we never would have changed the path God has brought us on (well…most of the time. ; )) Do I wish my kids didn’t suffer with this disease? Of course. But has God used it in their lives and our lives? Yes – in a million ways. So I don’t believe that there is a clear right or wrong answer in this area. But God is not a God of confusion and is faithful to lead us as we seek His guidance. In the end, whatever happens, He still reigns. So, although this isn’t really an answer because it’s not an answer for me to give, I hope our own journey will encourage you. I will pray for you and your family right now…for wisdom, unity, and God’s glory to be shown through whatever the future holds for you and your children. Blessings to you, Sarah ”
All that to say, we still don’t quite know what we’re going to do!
Just that we will be seeking the Lord.
And that He will lead us.
And there is so much grace now, to enjoy the two girls God has given us; they are such gifts! There is grace to look up at the sky and enjoy fellowship with my faithful Father.
There is “the peace that passes understanding” despite disappointments,
and changes of plans, and hard decisions.
This old hymn, made new by Sovereign Grace Music has been a comfort this week.
Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the Path for me.
Smooth let it be, or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.
I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So shall I walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.
Because God loves us “to the moon and back” ,
because He has removed our transgressions!,
We can certainly trust Him to fill our life’s cup with joy or sorrow; to choose our good and ill. Because He is sovereign and good and faithful, “It will still be the best.”
Thanks for reading my story, friends. Tell me your story!
In my seven months of dealing with Lyme, I have really been committed to not Google-searching my symptoms. Everyone knows, Google leads only to despair! Friends email me links, which often are good links. But I don’t go looking for information myself. (I might research natural remedies or anti-inflammatory topics and such, but not the ins-and-outs of Lyme itself.)
This past week, thankfully, was a week with less exhaustion and migraines and brain-fog. But, a new symptom has started that basically feels like arthritis in my hands. Once in a while these past few months, a couple of the knuckles on my right hand might hurt a bit…ya know *joint pain*, I’d call it.
But this week it’s spread to all my fingers. First my right hand, then my left. And I know they are just fingers! But it’s been hard to not get discouraged at the reality of a new symptom being added to our life.
I gave in, and I *googled* “Lyme Disease and Arthritis”. And, as always, was not encouraged by what Google had to tell me.
“Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacterium carried by deer ticks. If caught early, it is easily treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system, causing a complex debilitating disorder that is more difficult to treat.”
Oy. The words glowing on the screen: “If caught early, it is easily treated with antibiotics.”
“If left untreated, the infection can spread…
…complex debilitating disorder…” Yikes!
I put my husband’s phone back on the counter. It hit me again: If my Lyme was caught early, the antibiotics could have done their job. And if I hadn’t gone so long (however long it was) “untreated”, it wouldn’t have become so “difficult to treat.”
And again, (like every other day, or every other hour!,)
it felt like the Lord was quietly asking my heart: “Will you still trust me?”
You see, I believe strongly in the sovereignty and goodness of God, in all things. The entire Bible is a story of this! And the sovereignty and goodness of God in all things would have to include these new symptoms I’m experiencing (even now as I type). And it would have to include the fact that we did not catch my Lyme in that early stage where it’s easiest to treat.
Like Peter walking on the water, first in faith, but then he falls as he looks at the waves beneath his feet…I’m tempted to look down at the waves below me. To take my eyes off Christ. I look at my circumstances, and I start to despair. “Maybe He’s not so good and faithful, ready and waiting to help me.”, wonders my wandering heart.
I said to my husband before bed that night of the Google-search, half-kidding, half-serious: “Babe, I don’t want to lose the use of my hands!” (Google has a way of planting crazy ideas in my head.) He told me to just go to sleep, but first he prayed for me.
I have recently begun making art again after a six year hiatus, and thoughts flooded my mind. How could God allow that back in my life only to take it away again, by giving me crippled hands?? Of course, I was being a little dramatic. Letting my fears run free. My hands still work just fine. But, again, the Lord was prompting my heart: Will I still trust Him?
Kind of like how it’s impossible to assuage my five year old’s endless anxious pleadings before bedtime, the Lord can’t really give me much relief when I allow the thoughts to spin round and round in my head.
He just asks me to trust Him. And that’s all I can do.
The story of Jesus and his disciples in John chapter 6 has been a comfort to me in the past month. Jesus had said some pretty heavy things to a crowd of his followers, and many decided that they just couldn’t follow Him anymore. It was too much for them. They didn’t see the beauty and joy, they only saw the cost and the pain. They didn’t see their need.
John 6:67-69, “So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’ “
I hope I am not taking too much liberty here, but sometimes I imagine Jesus is asking me that question. When I’m faced with another hard-to-follow-Jesus moment, this loving question is like a refreshing splash of cold water to my face.
He asks, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Immediately I know my answer: Of course I don’t want to go away! Where else could I go?? Of course I want to be with Him, here, in my suffering, where He promises to be. I have believed and come to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God. He has the words of eternal life. And He is here with me. There’s no place I’d rather be.
And suddenly instead of despair, He fills my heart with praises.
Like Psalm 43:
“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God ,my exceeding joy..
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
& I’ll have to end this post with a Sara Groves song. It’s been a comfort to me through many years of walking with the Lord, in joy and pain, and is pretty much guaranteed to make me cry whenever and wherever I hear it: He’s Always Been Faithful.
Because He has. And I did nothing to deserve it!
Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me
I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me
This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me
Photo credit: My husband took this picture of our church, from the woods while he was hunting last week. So thankful for my church family, where God has shown me His faithfulness again and again.
Once a month, I’ll post a rambly post from my rambly heart ,without taking time to edit and overthink. (Believe it or not I really do hack away for a day or two at all my posts before I share them, so they’re slightly more cohesive.) Here I go:
Last month, when I wrote, it was early August. Definitely the prime of Summertime, but in the the air it was feeling like Fall. I do believe I was drinking a chai that day. ☕️
And I wrote about how I was looking expectantly to the season ahead, with cooler weather and shorter days, and more chai teas. I wrote about how it seemed then that my Lyme symptoms were fading too, just like those Summer days…
Today, it’s late September, early Fall, and ironically it’s been feeling like Summer again. It’s like these two months should trade places. The leaves on the maple tree outside my bedroom window are half gone, as I look at them now…
But I’ve traded in that spiced chai for iced coffee. And the shorts and summer clothes I had packed away are out again; it’s been so hot.
And kind of like those shorts, that I thought I was done with, that I didn’t want to think about for a long, long time, and so I pushed them back in the closet where I couldn’t see them;
just like the season of Summer I thought was over, but isn’t,
that I’d hoped I was trading in for a new, fresher, fuller one, but I’m not…
my Lyme symptoms are back with a vengeance.
As I wrote last month, & I quote:
“I’m looking forward to Fall because I feel like this Summer has been all about recovering from Lyme disease. And I don’t know for sure, but the worst seems to be behind us now, and the Fall and Winter ahead just seem like an invitation to get on with life.
it might get worse again,
and that’s okay too.”
Of course, I meant it at the time. The first part :and: the second part. And I still do.
But, of course, I hoped this new season would be “an invitation to get on with life”, and not an invitation back to the couch.
I was out in the heat with the girls yesterday, ripping out the half-dead zinnias from our front yard. There were big puffs of dusty-dirt as I yanked up their roots, and my youngest one laughed at me and she tried to help.
As my daughters ran around in the grass and got all sweaty in September, and the dirt from my shovel poured over my sandals-in-September-feet,
it was hitting me how “so-not-what-I-wanted” life had been the past week. Yesterday was a pretty “good day” as friends who know Lyme will understand. But the weekend was rough. I was in bed all day Saturday and half of Sunday.
Sara Groves wrote a song called Like A Lake. And It describes how I’ve been feeling lately.
“Everything in me is drawing in, curling in around this ache. :I am fighting to stay open:, like the surface of a like; wide open like a lake.”
That is me each day lately, fighting for faith in God’s goodness and plan. Fighting against “curling in around this ache” with thoughts of doubt, and temptation to withdraw in bitterness from friends and family and church…
This morning as Bron lead our family in Bible reading, he asked the girls what we can pray for this week. Emmy immediately said “to help Mommy’s ‘Lymes’ be all gone.” And Bron added, with a gracious/teasing side-eye: “and that Mommy will trust God in a hard season.”
I’m thankful for a husband (and daughter) who pray for me.
We chose antibiotics in hopes that the Lyme bacteria in my body would be dealt with quicker that way. All the stories we heard of the natural route for treating Lyme seemed to indicate that it takes forever to recover that way.
We didn’t feel like we had forever! We didn’t want to have to deal with this long term. I hoped I could be one of those people who can say “I had Lyme.” But instead it seems more likely that I may be among the many who have Lyme Disease. (Or, Post-Lyme, or Chronic Lyme, whatever you want to call it.)
So, I’m following my family doctor’s advice to be done with antibiotics after a three month round of trying to kill the bacteria this Summer. He said if three months didn’t kill it, more time won’t either. And I appreciate his honestly! I need to find another treatment.
So, now I’m doing a 30 day regimen of essential oils, and searching for a doable anti-fungal/anti-inflammatory diet to help alongside that. I must admit, I’m not quite as hopeful as I begin this new treatment !
Before, when I’d pop my antibiotic each morning and evening I would pray “Please Lord, kill this bacteria so we can get on with life!” But God did not answer my prayer in the way that I hoped.
Now as I layer essential oils on the bottoms of my feet and wrists and I take my supplements, I’m praying prayers that He’ll just get me through the day– give wisdom for when to work and when to rest; how much to push myself on my good days and how much to rest on my bad days.
Praying that He’ll keep me “open , like a lake”, not “curled around the ache” that He didn’t answer my prayers as I would have thought best. That He’ll use this for His glory, and keep me close to Him as I learn to trust Him more.
Another Sara Groves song I love describes my prayers lately too:
“From this one place I can’t see very far;
in this one moment, I’m square in the dark.
these are the things I will trust in my heart:
You can see something else.”
God can see something else, because He’s the one in control of it all. And whatever becomes of my health, He’s sovereign and good over it all. He’s been faithful and kind though it all. I can continue to trust Him, even as it looks like I’m stepping into the territory of “Chronic Lyme” I was praying against.
Have you heard of the prosperity gospel ? Well first of all, it is heresy, but second of all it is :nothing: compared to the true gospel. The prosperity gospel tells me that God loves me and wants me to be happy and if I have enough faith, God will give me health, wealth and prosperity on this earth.
But the true gospel tells me that “because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ.”
I don’t need health, wealth, and prosperity. I was dead in my trespasses, and God made me alive! That is what I needed, and I have it!
I need the immeasurable riches of His grace. I need His Kindness. I need His great love. And I have it in Christ. And so can you.
He brings meaning and beauty to my suffering, because of the meaning and beauty shown on the cross. And as I behold the cross, He is changing me.
So, these are things I tell myself as I lay in bed with a migraine and joint pain, when there’s so much to be done. And it applies to you too wherever you are struggling; wherever He has you. He wants to help you too.
Because of the cross, we can sing the faith-filled song with Sara Groves “from this one place I can’t see very far; [But] You can see something else.” And we can agree with Charles Spurgeon, like I shared last month, when things seemed brighter. It is true even moreso in suffering:
‘Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee;
never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children.”
For some reason it’s been hard for me to finish this post!
A few friends have told me that they’ve been waiting in suspense, hehe, and I’m sorry for that. Though I was so passionate about the topic when I posted Part I, Part II would not flow so freely from my fingers…
After some thinking, I know why I’m having trouble getting the words out. It’s because, well,
there are not really any :cool reasons: why I gave up my iPhone.
Unfortunately, and this fits well with my Millennial status, unfortunately I am guilty of wanting to be real and honest and open, yet also to be cool. But it’s silly… because those things just don’t go hand in hand.
And by “uncool” I guess what I really mean is: showing my weakness. Not my cool/likable/relatable kind of weakness, ya know the kind with a hashtag: #reallife, or #keepingithonest, or whatever.
Ultimately my weakness is shown in my need for a Savior. This need is shown even in my relationship with a phone!
And I’ll lose half my readers now for mentioning my Savior, and that’s okay. 💓
There are only uncool reasons why I gave up my iPhone and only uncool reasons why I :am: giving up my iPhone. So there’s my decision. I’ve decided to stick with my flip-phone.
And here are my reasons why.
As a Mother, many of my weaknesses are exposed.
I want excitement in my day; purpose and passion you could say. But being a stay-at-home-Mom can be equal parts boring and aggravating at times! The constant demand for snacks and books and answers to questions and wiping bottoms and cleaning up messes (and trying to teach the children how to clean up their messes) can be mind-numbing and exasperating at times. I know I’m not alone.
Will I ever get a shower without one of my children rushing in to inform me her sister threw a pair of underwear out the window and it’s stuck out of reach on the window below? (True and recent event.) Will I ever finish my cup of coffee before it gets cold ? Will I find time to exercise or read my Bible or text a friend with out being interrupted?
In Christian terms this is the concept of being “poured out”. My life as a Mom is an offering, for the glory of a God. And my life as a Mom is not about me. But, oh, how I’ve fought against this in my heart!
If I’m not careful, my day can so quickly become a quest to escape the monotony and hassles of home-life. And this was especially hard in that season two years ago when I got my first iPhone; when my girls were so much littler, and their need much greater.
Social media was accessible at any moment if I just reached in my pocket. And an endless supply of podcasts and any-song-I-can-think-of-to-listen-to was just too much for me. My smartphone helped to numb me to the conviction of those kinds of thoughts mentioned above, and it nursed my desire to escape.
Instead of asking God to help me get through my day, I asked my smartphone to help me get through the day.
So this is me as a stay-at-home Mom, struggling with that. But I wonder if others out there are using theirs smartphones to escape the monotony of their lives, whatever it may be.
Another thing I noticed is that my smartphone kept me from finding *quiet* in my day. All Moms know that there is no guarantee of true silence in a day when you have little ones at home! But if I was intentional with my time, I could have planned to use the little quiet moments that came along for Bible time or other reading; for creativity, or exercise. But in reality, in that season, any quiet time I found went to mindlessly to scrolling my phone. I forgot what it was like to just be alone with my thoughts.
I remember how uncomfortable it felt the first few times I drove in my car without my iTunes of podcasts to listen to! I eventually began to enjoy the quiet as it came, but it took some getting used to!
If my phone kept me from quiet, it also kept me from prayer throughout the day: that continuous communication with God I had once known and loved. Asking Him for help and comfort when life was hard, and thanking Him as He provided it. Asking for eyes to see how He was at work in my day, instead of using my phone to escape the monotony.
Another major thing I forgot how to do when I had a smartphone was to “treasure all these things up in my heart.” Whenever my girls did something sweet, out came my phone to capture that moment with a picture and a share, instantly sent out to everyone I know.
Ironically, the moment was often lost, as the next minutes were spent uploading to Instagram and choosing the best filter and witty caption. Not to mention the time spent the rest of the day, as I’d check my phone repeatedly, watching the likes adding up one-by-one.
I remember how weird that first week without a smartphone felt! When my girls would do something cute, I would have a moment of panic like “How will I remember this forever without a picture and a caption??” It had practically become instinctual.
I remember God brought that verse to my mind a lot that first week or two. He was calling me to treasure the moments in my heart like Mary did, with Him, not with everyone I knew. It felt like my mind and heart were being re-trained to prayer and praise, instead of tap and share.
Honestly, it brought a refreshing reminder of my finiteness! I don’t have to remember every cute moment my children have! There will be millions of those moments throughout their life under my roof, and I won’t remember half of them. And you know what: I don’t have to. Like the hairs of our head that are all numbered, God knows them. Because He’s awesome like that, I don’t have to be.
I could go on and on with other examples, but I think you get the idea. I’ll stop here.
Obviously I do not hate the internet, I have a blog after all. I thoroughly enjoy the internet! But much like the delicious piece of cheesecake I shared with my husband on our datenight this week…I personally just could not handle the temptation of keeping it by my side at all times. I tried to have self-control but it was too much for me.
This is my weakness. And it may not be yours.
As a Mom, I need to live my life connected to The Vine, not the Internet.
And I want any unexpected moments of quiet to be seen as an opportunity for prayer and praise, not an opportunity for podcasts and music and videos.
I thought that my phone helped me feel less alone as I walked throughout those hard mothering days with a baby and a two year old. But what I needed most was to know that God was with me.
And having a flip-phone helps me to remember that God is with me.
He’s with me on my hardest days as a Mom,
and my happiest, enjoying-every-moment-days as Mom.
And He is my constant source of joy and peace in both, not my phone.
Of course, it wasn’t the phone’s fault, it was mine. This is just another picture of my sinful heart that is constantly trying to put other things in God’s place. He is faithful to correct me, this stubborn child of His, because He loves me and knows what’s best for me.
And just to emphasize the fact that my family does not think iPhones are “of the devil” or something weird like that!, my husband still has an iPhone. And it still has its shining moments like I shared about in my last post.
He also graciously allows his wife to have her Instagram account on his phone. That separation -to not have it with me all day long- really helps to keep my relationship with Instagram (and the internet) healthy and in its proper place.
And I can still enjoy the sweet square shapes and pleasant filters IG offers, and that easy creative outlet and connection with friends. Though I still continue to take regular breaks to keep my wandering heart in check.
I :also: have Instagram on my iPad, but,
I can’t use it to post pictures during the day, or scroll online, unless I have Wifi.
And guess what, we have lived ::without Wifi:: in our home for the past 9 months!
But, that is a post for another day. ❤
(I won’t say anything about when that will be posted because you know how good I am at sticking to that. 🙂 )
In conclusion, I love you dear friends and readers! Thanks for your patience in my second installment of this post.
And just a reminder that this is not at all meant to cause guilt or shame, or arguments! This is just a story of how God has been patient and kind with me. Another story of how God showed me my weakness and made me more thankful for His Gospel.
So, please do enjoy your smartphones! But don’t let them be your source of comfort and strength for your day. Don’t let them rob your life of quiet and prayer, and all the sweet opportunities in a day to “treasure up all these things in [your] heart.”
I would love to hear in the comments how you have kept your hearts in check with having a smartphone, as well as any good tips you have to not allow it to take over your life.
And in the off chance that anyone :is: considering trying out life with a non-smartphone, please know that you have a cheerleader in me! 🙂
Well, actually, before I tell you ^ that story ^ , I have to tell you :this: story.
It was the year 2008, and I had just turned 19. It was the year when I saw an iPhone for the first time. Do you remember when you saw your first one? I remember thinking it seemed so unnecessary.
I remember thinking, “Okay, so it’s basically an iPod, but with a phone and the internet on it? But, why would you need to have all your music on your phone?
Why would you need to check your email wherever you are?
Why would you need to take the internet in your pocket with you,
w h e r e v e r y o u g o ? ? “
This was almost ten years ago, which is crazy!
Only ten years ago, and life really was so different.
At that time, I had the kind of phone that you had to add minutes to “as you go”. I already didn’t have a cool cellphone and wasn’t very savvy about technology and things. So that’s where I was coming from.
If I remember correctly, I think some cellphones :did: have internet back then…but it cost money and minutes to actually use it. So, no one really used the internet that way. The internet was something you checked at home or the library, or at an Internet Cafe. (Remember those?)
The internet was already something that could suck me in for hours, even within the confines of needing to find a place that had Wifi. And so the ability to take the internet with me in my pocket seemed like a terrible idea for me. “I would never get one of those phones.”
Did you say that too?
In my world of friends in their early twenties, not many people had iPhones for quite awhile. It seemed like it was mostly older adults who got them, at first.
I met Bron two years later. I was 21 and he was 28, and I would have considered him an older adult at the time 🙂 . He had a real job and a house and payed real bills. He was the kind of person who would have had an iPhone. And, he did.
I remember trying to overlook the fact that he had a smartphone. :} But, I did think it was a little strange when would tell me a story about something that happened to him that day, and then show me pictures he took to go along with the story. I tried not to hold it against him since I liked him so much, but I thought it was weird that he took so many pictures on his phone! Even the fact that he would :show: me his phone was weird to me.
That was a strange concept back then. But of course, that’s what we all do now!
Now it’s not just working adults who have smart phones, we all have them. And we all have photographic evidence of all the events in our life, and it’s normal and fun to show our friends our pictures on our phones. Or *share* them, through our phones.
But we didn’t always live this way.
It wasn’t till right after we got married that I understood more of the value of having a smartphone; the value of having the internet in your pocket whenever you need it. It really hadn’t played a big role in our relationship till then.
But when our flight home from our honeymoon was cancelled due to weather, the smartphone had it’s first shining moment in our marriage. Instead of panicking like everyone around us, Bron just tapped around on his phone. He looked up a hotel in the area that had room for us, and he found us a transportation service….
I had never really witnessed an iPhone in action like that. It seemed so futuristic! And while all the people without smartphones were stuck in crazy long lines waiting for what the airport could offer them, our problem was taken care of in a jiffy.
I can remember looking back at all the people waiting in lines, and thinking that I was really glad my new husband had a smartphone.
But I still didn’t feel the need to have one of my own. And the statistic that stormy night at the airport seemed about the same as in my own life: not even half of the people I knew had smartphones at the time. This was 2011.
It took a couple of years until it seemed like :most: of my friends had iPhones.
I remember the first time I heard of Instagram, I thought it was weird. Why would you need to share a picture instantly from your phone? With other people who are also sharing their own pictures instantly from their phones?
Facebook was addicting enough for me, and sharing pictures meant having to upload pictures from my camera to my computer. If it were as simple as a tap on my phone, I knew I would have even more trouble with self-control in that area!
In 2014, I told my Facebook friends that I was giving FB up for Lent that year, which was true. But I was also planning to stay off forever if possible. I would delete my account every once in a while, and always enjoyed my breaks. But when I’d return with newfound zeal to have self-control, I would never quite feel good about it’s role in my new season of life as a new Mom. It was just too addicting for me.
I didn’t like how all my free time, between taking care of baby Emmy and housework, usually went there. Without the temptation to sit at the computer and browse my newsfeed, I was more likely to do something creative, or read or rest.
Or ya know, just do something -anything- that didn’t leave me feeling just kind of :blah: afterwards like Facebook always seemed to do.
A couple month into my no-Facebook life, I was given an iPad for my 25th birthday. Since I was off Facebook, I decided to try Instagram. As a Mom of a 1 year old, I was missing that easy social connection a little. And I had to admit the pleasant square-shape of the pictures, and the ability to use filters was appealing to me.
I was also just curious, and I knew a few of my friends had Instagram on their phones. I didn’t have a smartphone, but I was able to use my new iPad to take pictures, and share them instantly that way.
I ended up really enjoying it, and preferring it to Facebook. With the sweet squares and pretty filters and ability to make use of my creative eye, it was a nice little creative outlet for me. I was somewhat starved for creativity in my new role as a stay-at-home-Mom.
I told Bron how I felt like I was just sharing pictures with my friends, and it was fun. It didn’t have the heaviness that Facebook seemed to have, it was much more light-hearted and :just fun: at first. More people seemed to be on Facebook than Instagram, so it seemed less loud and crowded. I liked having a new way to keep in contact with my siblings and friends, and share pictures of my cute child.
It did have a little bit of that familiar addictive feeling that Facebook had given me, so I knew I would have to use to self-control. My iPad could only use Instagram when connected with Wifi, so it had a limit to it’s ability to take over my world, which I liked.
But the ability to take the internet with me wherever I went :in my home: was new. My home internet source had been a desktop computer, which sat at a desk in our living room. But, my iPad could come anywhere with me. That was new.
And the option to see all the little moments of my day as a photo opportunity was new too. At first it was fun: I have always enjoyed looking for the beauty in the pleasant yet ordinary moments of life. Also I have always wanted to have a blog, and Instagram kind of fulfilled that desire, without all the work of sitting at a computer and working for hours on a post.
But, sharing pictures on Instagram slowly changed from a pleasant creative outlet, to my :only: creative outlet. It almost started to define my day. And it was addicting! I did not have peace about it, and I would regularly go back and forth between using it a whole lot, and taking breaks.
When a family member offered me an old iPhone a year later, I must admit that my first thought was: Instagram would be more fun with a smartphone. I could take pictures outside of my own home, and Wifi connection.
Also, text messaging was getting a little difficult as the only one of my friends without emojis and fancy group message abilities.
I also have a terrible sense of direction and would get lost fairly regularly, so a GPS in my pocket sounded like a good idea.
Without much of a fight, we decided I should join my generation and get a real smartphone.
And I had one for about a year and a half, until this time last year.
Soon, I’ll tell the rest of the story of how and why I decided to go back to a non-smartphone for a year.
Disclaimer: I am not trying to make anyone feel like they need to get rid of their iPhones, or place unnecessary guilt on everyone I know who enjoys their smartphone.
But I know that many of us older Millenials have a love/hate relationship with our phones, and I have often heard friends and family say they “just want to go back to having a flip-phone.”
Well, I did! And it was quite an adjustment.
I want to share my story and what I’ve learned so far. And…
my decision to continue with my flip-phone after a year together,
or break up with it. 💔
🍂📱To Be Continued📱🍂…
A month ago, I was sitting in a ladies meeting at my church. We were singing songs to Jesus and hearing good teaching from a favorite lady up front. It was an evening out for me, but my thoughts were on my home. My five year old was heavy on my heart.
Emmylou would be starting school in :6: (less than a week!) days, and it was hitting me. She was truly anxious. As a kid, I definitely had some anxiety surrounding the topic of school. Seeing that familiar pain in her was super hard for me to watch.
As we sang, my mind was on Emmy and I was praying for her throughout the time.
A main point of contention for her was the fact that we chose to put her in Pre-K for a second year. She is early in the cut-off line for entering school, and her teacher said she thought she would do fine to go ahead with Kindergarten.
“But,” she said “it would also be fine to put her through another year of Pre-K.” After all, she was the only one in her class last year who was not as tall as an Emperor Penguin 🐧, hehe. (Meaning, she was not only the youngest in her class a year ago, but the smallest.)
My husband and I don’t always agree on things right away, but somehow we both immediately agreed. Yes, maybe it would be good for her to have another year of just the same thing. Everyone who knows Emmy knows that she is small, but super smart. We never would have thought to have her repeat a year of school.
But after talking to her teacher, an extra year before :really: starting on that K-through-12 train felt like the perfect fit for our little girl. (It would also make her and Sadie closer in grades at school which is another big plus for us.)
We both felt peace about it, and we planned on it.
But, as it turned out, Emmy was not so into this idea. “Please Mommy, I want to go to Kindergarten!” “All my friends will be in Kindergarten !” “I want to be homeschooled like *insert names of several little friends who are homeschooled*!” There were lots of Please-Mommy-Please!-es.
Persistence and whining are some of this child’s many talents and strengths, but this was different. It was true pain in her little heart that I just couldn’t relieve.
Interestingly, I had always imagined I would homeschool. (Another post in and of itself, which I may or may not write someday.) And that seemed like a much more pleasant idea!
But for me, (and I know this is not true of most homeschool Mom’s, but for me,) when I search my heart, what I find most appealing about homeschool is that I would get to shield her from pain like this. Staying another year in Pre-K while all your friends go off to Kindergarten? Feeling left out and behind and awkward and out of place so early in your childhood development? Pish posh. Stay home with Mommy! May you never know that kind of pain!
But, no. Emmy loved school last year and we had faith she would love it again this year. And even though she pleaded and pleaded, we would stand firm and not change our decision.
So when we broke into groups for prayer after the meeting, I asked for prayer for Emmy. I felt a little silly! But no, of course it’s not silly. These kind of things matter to God. If He cares about the sparrows, He cares about my children. He cares about Emmy.
As I asked for prayer, I felt like God gave me the words to describe what I was feeling. “It’s like her first little form of suffering !” I said. I hadn’t thought about it like that till then, but that’s exactly what it was.
Her Dad and I felt peace about it, and we made the decision, but she didn’t understand. I hated putting her thorough that kind of pain! But we were trusting God. And I was praying for comfort for Emmy, and that somehow she could be excited for school.
So, that night at the ladies meeting, 6 days before school started, my friends prayed for my daughter.
The next night was a Back-to-School night of sorts, where the kids could visit their class and meet their teachers.
She didn’t say much on the drive over that night. But as we got closer to school, and we passed the familiar landmarks, she started to perk up a little. She decided to quickly color a picture to give to her teacher. Phew, a good sign!
She was a little shy as we approached the crowded classroom, but you could see there was relief and curiousity in her face. Shyly, yet sweetly she handed her teacher the picture she made and they chatted a little. “I think you’ve gotten taller, Emmy!”, was the first thing she said to her. My husband and I commented about how she’s probably as tall as an Emperor Penguin this year.
There was an assembly for families after classroom-time, and we all huddled in. I must confess Bron and I still feel a little uncomfortable as parents of a school age child. We have seen too many Christopher Guest movies and are always a little immature at school events, finding ways to make little jokes to each other about everyday moments that would work well for mockumentary humor.
But there was this moment when all the teachers were up on stage, and dance music started to play over the speakers. The teachers started to dance in somewhat of a choreographed fashion, and Emmys eyes lit up. Instead of making a Christopher Guest joke, I turned to my husband and said in his ear: “This is actually kind of awesome !”
I knew that room had to have been filled with quite a few kids who, like Emmy, were anxious about a new year of school. I loved that the teachers were letting down their guard and just being silly and fun. What a way to welcome the students back to school! I wanted to say “THANKYOU! This is just what my daughter needed! She was dreading school and now I’m pretty sure she thinks she goes to the coolest school ever!”
Some of the teachers then began coming into the aisle and pulling kids up to dance with them. Emmy’s teacher came right up to us, and knelt down to our little Emperor Penguin. She put out her hand and asked her to come up on stage with her.
Emmy loves all things pomp and festive and flashing lights and loud music, so I knew she would love to go up! But her personality vacillates between super shy and super confident, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But without hesitation, she joined her teacher. If I wasnt mistaken, I thought I saw a little skip in her step as she took her teacher’s hand and followed her down the aisle towards the stage.
She had the biggest smile on her face, and I knew this is exactly what she needed to get excited for school. On the way home I asked her if she danced up on stage with her teacher (it was hard to see her in the crowd). She said “Yeah, :and: I skipped down the aisle.”
I told her “I thought I saw that.”, and smiled to myself. She admitted that now she was a little bit excited for school. Thank you Jesus!
It wasnt till the next day as I reflected on it, that I could see how God’s kindness was written all over that evening. Emmy had been dreading school! She wasn’t seeing her Mommy and Daddy’s love for her in our decision to hold her back.
Visiting her classroom and chatting with her teacher seemed to calm her anxious heart. That would have been enough. But God had it so that her teacher would bring her up on stage to dance with her.
If you knew my daughter and her little personality, you would know how much that would mean to her!
It truly just seemed like God was reaching out to me, by reaching out to Emmy, and blessing her in such a specific way that spoke so specifically to her and who she is.
It gives me hope for the next time my husband and I make a decision that she hates, and I’ll have to watch her go through pain she doesn’t understand. I’ll pray for her and I’ll see how God works to comfort and encourage her.
And I’ll remind her of that time we had her do a second year of Pre-K and she didn’t want to, and we’ll remember how awesome it turned out in the end.
“And remember when your teacher brought you up on stage to dance with her?” I’ll say.
Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as it’s only the third week of school. 🙂 But we’ve already seen a lot of good fruit in this decision to keep her back this year. And I’m confident God will continue to work, and I’m excited to see what He has in store.
I love Proverbs 14:26,
“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.”
As my husband and I follow God’s leading as we make decisions for our family (whether to homeschool or not, to hold a child back in school or not, for example!), our confidence will be in Him, and our children will rest in the safe place of His Care shown through us.
Confession time: When Emmy was a baby, when I was determined to be the best Mom ever, I read a blog-post where a Mom admitted that it was hard to let her daughter bake in the kitchen. Her daughter loved baking and creating in the kitchen, but it was a hard for this Mom to allow her little girl time to enjoy that hobby because… she hated what a mess it made.
So, when Emmy was a baby and I was determined to be the best Mom ever, and I read that blog-post where a Mom said it was hard to let her daughter work in the kitchen because of the mess it made!!….I thought that lady was the meanest Mom ever.
flash forward 5 years::
, now I get it.
Emmylou is a creative girl, and would make things all day long, — if I gave her more grace about the mess.
She also loves her dollhouse. ( & I won’t say anything about that mess!)
So, when she saw this book at the library on Monday—>>, her little heart flipped out. Her two favorite things wrapped into one! She discovered it on the bookshelf all by herself. And when she brought it to me, I was excited about it too.
It looked like a fairly new book that would be fun to read, and the illustrations are super sweet! I have a thing about sweet illustrations in sweet children’s books.
But as I read it to her the next morning, my left eye started to twitch a little with a Mother’s anxiety, because I knew what was going through her head as I read it to her!
As I read about the “dixy cup elevator” and the “toilet paper popcorn” and fried eggs made out of cut paper, and the pool on top of the roof, and I saw the look in her eye…
I knew that she wasn’t going to be content to just enjoy this sweet story. I knew she was going to want to make a cardboard dollhouse of her own. (I would have wanted to as a child!)
And I knew, that since (1) we were planning to spend the entire day at home, and (2) in light of my new hope & vision to Let Emmy be Emmy … there was no good reason for me to say No.
*MAD PROPS & A SHOUTOUT TO MY SWEET MOM, who had 10 creative children in a little 3 bedroom home, all tucked in their own little corners (or right in the middle of the living room) making some sort of CONSTANT creative mess!*
So, I offered a little guidance and let her know what she could use, but most of my ideas were shut down. And I stayed in my pajamas till noon because of the unpredictable nature of scissors and glue and a little sister getting in the way. 🙂
Materials used: One dollhouse sized box and a bunch of cardboard scraps to cut and make into things, scissors and tape and glue, fabric and ribbon scraps of mine, leftover wallpaper, a couple of doilies that I could spare from my collection, Hello Kitty Band-Aid box and some Band-Aids, markers and stickers and dollhouse furniture as desired.
A few pictures of her creation:
So, I had woke that morning with plans to be efficient and hard-working at home all day, (2 things I’m not naturally 🙂 ) , and instead I was able to set my Morning To-do list aside to help allow my daughter to have fun and be creative.( All the silly things around the house I had to do were done by evening.)
Also I had the thought that if I’m able to allow her now to be more free in her creativity at age 5, it could blossom into something really sweet! I don’t want to let my desire for a well ordered home get in the way of that. And if I’m able to teach her now at age 5 to clean up after her mess, it will become a good habit that she does naturally as she gets older. (Right!? hehe.)
When she was finally done with the creating-stage, she played for hours! Even Sadie was invited to join her. Which made the few minutes it took to clean up seem like nothing in comparison!
Just like the little girl in the book, playing with something she made herself was much more fun than one from the store. These pictures were taken Wednesday, and today is Friday- and there has been a second floor installed already. ❤
Summer break is almost over and I’m so glad we can end it with memories like this.
Ladies, I would definitely recommend this book for your girls, big and little, creative or not! We borrowed ours from the Manheim Township Library, and it should be returned soon! ( because I may have ordered one from Amazon so we can have our own copy at home.)