9/19/14

That Time I Gave Up Facebook

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A couple of years ago I gave up Facebook for several months.

There were several reasons I decided to cut myself off from Facebook, and there were several reasons I decided later on to give Facebook another chance.  The whole experiment taught me a lot about other people, and a lot about myself.

I never really wrote about it, though I considered starting a post on my decision several times.  The words just never seemed quite right.  However, recently a current Facebook friend of mine posted on her decision to give up Facebook for a little while, and it made me think of when I did the same - so I thought that maybe the time had come for me to write about it here.

I went back and read a rough draft that I wrote at the time about all the reasons why I wanted to get off Facebook - and though reading that did refresh my memory about a lot of the things that I don't particularly like about Facebook, there is a general tone of exasperation to that post.  I was just done.

I think I first started to realize there was a problem when I would close my browser feeling dissatisfied or annoyed.  I was friends with a lot of people that I had known in years past.  You know the ones that I'm talking about - friends from high school, "friends" that had rejected me informally long ago, though thankfully without severing the relationship with a dramatic de-friending gesture.

But I was still connected with all these people - people who might have hurt me, or people who had always been competition to me, whether in reality or just in my own head.

I got to see their lives play out on cyberspace.  Graduations.  Marriages.  Pregnancy announcements.  Houses.

Sometimes it hurt because I was sad that these friendships ended.

Sometimes it was jealousy spurred by something that someone else had, and the frustration came because I wanted that thing, or thought I had worked much harder for that thing.  The whole comparison game that it is so hard not to play.

Then there was just the general negativity from people who always seem to want to air their gross laundry where everyone can see it.

I felt beat down.  I felt dissatisfied.  I felt I felt inadequate.  It left me wanting to post about everything fun I was doing to prove to everyone else that I was doing cool things too.  I was someone interesting, and they were missing out if they weren't friends with me.

As in real life friends.  Not Facebook friends, because "Facebook friends" can mean anything.

Looking back, I think these things were largely a heart issue, and I can't blame Facebook as much as I blame myself.  Pride was a huge factor here.  The bottom line is that I wanted to feel good enough, and I thought Facebook made me feel less than.

I just ran around in circles like this for years before I started to realize that maybe there was a problem here.  Ironically, the effect of Facebook on my own pride was just an afterthought at the time, though now I realize that pride was the biggest problem I needed to recognize with my Facebook use.  But that is not what made me give it up.

One day I realized that a lot of the girls who I really wanted to be friend with, but that I didn't really see outside of Facebook, actually thought that we were friends.  They thought that keeping up with me on Facebook meant we were friends, even though our interaction only consisted of an occasional "like" or comment on one of my posts.

I didn't want cyber-friendships with these people.  If we were going to be friends, I wanted to be real-life friends, and I started to wonder if Facebook's tendency to create a false sense of friendship was getting in the way of actually forming real friendships with these girls.

I started to hear stories of gossip and drama that people had experienced on Facebook.  I never experienced much of that personally, but I started to feel a bit convicted.  Even though I had never started an actual rumor based on information on Facebook, I would be lying if I said that I had never drawn incorrect conclusions or gossiped to my husband about something someone said on Facebook.  I may not have let anything escalate to the level of traditional, rumor-spreading gossip, but I did judge people's motives and invent narratives in my own head about situations I had no actual information about.

I also realized through comments from extended family and friends how much information about my life people got from Facebook.  It seemed wrong to me somehow that these people got to know these things about my life without ever actually talking to me.

True friendships can't form without conversation, but on Facebook you don't have to have that.  People don't have to put out any actual effort to be friends with you, because all the things they might want to know about you are probably on Facebook.  I started to wonder if people might be more likely to reach out in real life if they didn't know everything that was going on with me already.  It made me feel a little "spied on", to be honest, but how could I blame anyone but me?  I was not only providing the information, I was encouraging the "spying".

The final straw came when someone who I rarely saw gathering a little bit too much information about me from Facebook.  It freaked me out a little, and all the other things that had been bothering me came rushing to my mind.  In that moment I made a decision that it was time to take a break.

I deleted my account that same week.

(The rest of my Facebook break story is coming soon, so stay tuned!)

9/18/14

Clyde At Five Months

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Note: More pictures of Clyde on my photo blog - request to follow with the button in the sidebar!


(Cute little baby jeans and shoes.)


Clyde is five months old!  And I am horribly late on this monthly update.


We went to his four month checkup on the 28th, and I found out that Clyde is only in the 8% for weight!  I didn't realize he was so little!  He is about 58% for height, so he's long and skinny. 

I think the biggest development this month is that he is really into toys now!  He focuses on them and tries to grab at them.  He grabs his feet and stares at his hands sometimes, and when I put him down to play on his stomach he fails his arms and legs so hard, trying to figure out how to move!  He is really liking standing lately, and he is fairly stable, which really impresses us - Derek is also pretty sure he is even more strong than the other too at this age.  He's not close to sitting yet, but I think we are going to practice over the next month so I can get him ready for his next set of pictures.


He is a very happy baby, and his little baby giggle is hilarious - it just makes me smile every time.  I love the sound of it.  I feel like for a while Clyde was either smiling or crying at all times, but I feel like he has had more middle ground lately, where he'l just hang out. If I'm in sight though, he still fusses until I pick him up (he has me figured out).  Derek and I laugh because sometimes if we aren't holding him and he wants to be held, he'll cry, and make this "oh" sound and just give us this desperate face - like his little world will just be shattered if I don't pick him up right that second.  I can't even explain it, but it's funny and cute and sad all at the same time.  He has us figured out.


He has started giving me baby kisses this month!  He loves to gnaw on my chin, but this month he started grinning and then giving me big, slobbery, open-mouthed kisses all over my face.  I love it so much!  


It's been really cute watching the kids interact more as they get older, and Derek told me there was an evening when I was out when all three of them were just playing with each other and laughing so hard!  I've seen them making each other laugh and it's so cute.  I love that these sweet little ones fill our house with so much laughter!

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My Sweet Clyde,

You are growing so much, Sweet Boy!  I feel like you have changed so much this month.  I love watching you play.  You are so interested in toys and trying to move, and I love watching you get so focused on your goal - it's adorable!  Another favorite thing is when you fall asleep in my arms in the afternoon - the other two kids are usually down for naps or quiet time, and you just snuggle in with me and fall asleep.  Then I study your little features, your eyelashes brushing your cheeks, your tiny nose, your perfect little lips.  It's our time together, and I love that we have that.  And finally, I am loving your slobbery, wonderful baby kisses this month!  I know you are really trying to give me a kiss because you just smile and press your open mouth against my cheek in a kiss, and I treasure every single one!
I love you so much Sweet Boy, and I hope you always know how special you are to me!

Love,

Mama

9/12/14

Tipping Point

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Paintingblog
(A watercolor painting experiment I did this summer of my older two kiddos.)

I've been having a hard time finding my balance this year.

I think each mother has her tipping point, when she goes from feeling like things are totally manageable to feeling totally overwhelmed.  For some it might be with with their first child - maybe when their baby is colicky, or when their child gives up naps.  I've heard from several friends that figuring out the balance with two kids was when they started to feel overwhelmed - maybe when they were pregnant with a toddler to run after, maybe after their second child was born.

For me - this was it.  This summer was my tipping point.

In all fairness, it wasn't just one thing.  It wasn't just adding a third baby to our family - it's been the fact that I also happened to sign up to help run our MOPS blog this year, I started writing for Tommy Nelson, Wyatt is starting preschool, and the times when all three kids are napping have been more rare.

I was trying to keep up the pace I have always kept, and in the midst of everything I repeatedly heard stories from others of times when the Lord asked them to give up something.  With every story, I felt a little nudge in my heart.  But I kept pushing it down, because I couldn't think of anything to give up, except one thing I really didn't want to give up - my blog.

When I thought about giving up my blog, I had mixed feelings.  Half of me felt like it might be time.  But the other half of me felt like the Lord was still opening doors, and I didn't think I should not blog at all.

Then one week, when deadlines were rushing up on me, and I was sleep deprived, and the house was a mess, I had a meltdown.  Like a complete, sobbing on the floor, Derek had to calm me down with a glass of water type meltdown.  When I settled down, I thought over that week and realized that I couldn't remember actually looking at the kids in a few days.  I mean really looking at them.  Noticing how the color of Clyde's eyes were changing.  Running Gwen's soft curls through my fingers. Talking to Wyatt about which Hot Wheels cars were his current favorites.

And I realized if something had to give (and something clearly did have to give), it couldn't be really looking at my kids.  I couldn't let their childhood slip by while I rushed around, keeping up this insane pace that I had set for myself.

I thought it through.  I finally saw that I needed to step back.  To just slow down.

So after that, I took the pressure off myself.  I'm keeping my commitments, but I'm not adding any new ones.  I still blog, but if a post doesn't go up one week, it's okay.

I'm giving my best, but my best goes to my kids and Derek first, because they are my only tasks that will last forever.  If I fail at everything else, but I succeed with my family, I will enter eternity satisfied.

I think that nudge I felt was the Holy Spirit - and He was trying to get me to give up something.  He was telling me to give up trying to do everything, and to focus on being the best at this one thing - being a good wife and mother to these people God has given me.  I'm still figuring out what I can and can't handle in this season of my life, but I have a better starting point now - give everything I can to serving the Lord by serving my family, and then I can split up whatever I have left among everything else.

And now I feel like the scales are back in balance.

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Have you ever felt like you had gone over your tipping point?  How did you get everything back in balance?

9/10/14

Currently

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(Harvey and me.  I love him, even though he drives me crazy.)


Listening . . . I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately - I think my favorites at the moment are the "How They Blog" podcast (when I need blogging inspiration), the "A Way With Words" podcast (about the English language - does this make me sound like a nerd?), and "Grace To You" (which is John MacArthur's sermon podcast).

Eating . . . Watermelon!  I cannot get enough watermelon - even though it's supposed to be the start of fall, watermelon is still the thing that is hitting the spot.  This makes me sound like I'm pregnant, but I'm not.  I'm just really into watermelon.

Drinking . . .Lots and lots of coffee.  I don't know why, but we are going through a really rough sleeping patch with all of the kids in the last couple weeks, so coffee is keeping me sane.
Wearing . . . If I'm supposed to list what I'm wearing as I'm typing this, that would be a navy blue t-shirt and gray pajama sweatpants.  But that's not very interesting, so earlier today . . . I was wearing a white t-shirt with an aqua layering tank underneath, light wash jeans with a couple of holes in them, brown sandals with gold trim that I got at Target for $5, a brown belt, and my brown leather jacket that makes me feel like it really is fall.  You know, to offset the sandals and the watermelon I'm eating.

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(Me, just being a dork.)


Feeling . . . I'm feeling lonely and emotional.  Derek is gone again this week, and I miss him like crazy - found myself crying on the phone earlier just because I want him to be home.  I'm also watching the new episode of 19 Kids and Counting, and it's totally making me cry with all the talk of daughters getting married and such . . . I clearly have a lot of hormones wreaking havoc at the moment.  I feel like a big baby.

Weather . . . It's twilight right now, and it's still and cool outside.  Dogs are barking in the distance, and everything has that gray look to it.  It's pretty peaceful.

Wanting . . . I'm wanting a new bag!  I'm telling myself I need one for the Tommy Nelson meet up at the end of this month.  You know, to carry my laptop and . . . stuff . . . on the plane.  Okay, I really don't need a new bag, I just want one.  I'm eyeing these two from Target:


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Crossbody bag with diamond print design.



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Cognac tech tote.



Needing . . . Derek to be home.  To get more sleep.  To wake up early so I have some time to study my Bible since it is just not happening otherwise. Lasik eye surgery. More hours in the day.  Sleep (wait, I already mentioned that).

Thinking . . . I'm thinking a lot about theology lately.  I've been reading some heavy-duty, exercise-my-brain books about theology, and it feels good to keep things that truly matter in the forefront of my mind more often.  It also inspires me to spend more time with the kids/be a better mother - when my mind is more focused on Jesus, I am constantly reminded that showing Him to my kids is my most important task - not just for right now, but for my whole life.  I want to be faithful in this.

Enjoying . . . My kids. Playing with watercolors.  Hot baths.  Pumpkin spice lattes and salted carmel mochas (because if I'm going to waste money on $4 cups of coffee, I'm getting something sweet!). Yankee candles.  Derek's scent on his pillow at night, even when he isn't home.  Doing preschool with Wyatt this year (he is so smart), watching him learn something new before my eyes.  Gwen's happy dance and sweet little girl twirls that remind me that her toddler days are numbered. Clyde's grin around the edges of his bottle, because he is constantly smiling, even when he is eating.   My life.

9/8/14

The Family Project Review

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Familyproject

Clyde was just a few weeks old when Focus On The Family's documentary Irreplaceable came out in theaters, which was a prequel to The Family Project small group curricuum that was released this summer.  Needless to say, we didn't make it to the theaters to see it since we had a brand-new baby!  I was bummed, because it sounded really good, and I knew I probably wouldn't get a chance to see the full Family Project unless my church decided to do a study on it.   However, recently I realized that there is a Family Project book, so I jumped at the chance to review it!

This book is an overview of the theology of the family - God's purpose and plan for the family, specifically how family and individual members of a family, reflect God's image.  I wasn't expecting such a deep theological book when I first requested this - I thought it would be more about the scientific research about the family.  But even though it was different than what I was expecting, it was even better than I thought it was going to be!

I got so much out of this book.  I had never even thought about the theology behind God's plan for families, and this book made me appreciate how perfectly God has planned the family to reflect His image in the world.  I especially liked the sections on intimacy and children, because these sections brought up things that I had never thought about before.  I thought the book was very well thought-out and biblically sound.  All of the major themes in this book were spot-on, and there was just one minor point I wasn't sure I totally agreed with.*

There are many paintings described in the book, which you can also look up on the Family Project's website - warning, there is nudity in some of these pieces!  I didn't look up all the paintings, but I really appreciated reading the descriptions of the art in the book, and I felt like it added an extra impact to the points that were being made.  If you are an art enthusiast, I would say you would probably appreciate those sections of the book even more than I did!

I would highly recommend this book to any Christian - I think this is a neglected area of theological study, and I learned so much through reading this book.  It still makes me wish my church would do the Family Project small group study!  You never know, maybe they will.  If they do, I'm signing up!

Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

*The one minor point I didn't necessarily agree with was a comment about surrogacy being outside the ethical bounds of a married union - if we are talking about a type of surrogacy where the surrogate's genetic material is involved (i.e. when Hagar was a "surrogate" for Abraham and Sarah), then I would agree with that - but if we are talking about a gestational carrier carrying the biological baby of a married man and woman when the married woman is not able to carry her own child, I don't see a problem, because the baby is still conceived within the marital union.  That's just my personal opinion.  The comment in the book was made in passing, and was not a major point, so even if you disagree, I would say don't let it stop you from reading the book.  It's definitely worth reading.

9/5/14

5 Reasons To Read Aloud To Your Kids

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When I was three or four years old, I had an entire Curious George book memorized. I used to sit down with the book, turn the pages, and recite the entire thing while my mom and dad listened (and chuckled to themselves about how adorable I was, I’m sure).
This is not a unique story – I have heard of many children memorizing the words of their favorite book and pretending to be able to read it themselves. As adults, we smile and chuckle at the fact that these little children, who technically can’t read, like to pretend that they can.
However, now when I hear those stories from the perspective of a parent, I also think about how the parents of those kids must be doing something right! If a child who can’t read has an entire storybook memorized, it must be because someone has read it to them, and read it to them many times. Those kids may not be able to actually read the words on the page, but they already have a head start with reading skills because someone is reading aloud to them.
I’m sure there are experts who could tell us about all the intricacies of the benefits of parents reading aloud to their kids, but these are few of the reasons that came to my mind…
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Visit the Tommy Nelson blog to read the rest of my thoughts on why you should read aloud to your kids!

9/4/14

52 Uncommon Dates Review

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52dates copy

I will be the first to admit that Derek and I are horrible about having "date night".  We don't get out very often (once every few months maybe?), and when we do we usually just go see a movie.  So when I had the opportunity to review 52 Uncommon Dates from Moody publishers, I decided to jump on it, hoping to get some inspiration for going on more unique dates.

This book did not disappoint!  The book starts with an introduction from Gary Chapman on the importance of continuing to date your spouse, and then it jumps right in to the date ideas.  Some of these dates are things that I might have thought of before, but most of them are things I don't think I would have ever come up with.

What I liked about each date idea was that they were each geared toward helping you connect with your spouse or significant other on a deeper level, emotionally and spiritually.  Discussion questions that have to do with the theme of each date are included, along with ideas for praying together before and after your date, ideas for incorporating your spouses love language into the date, and Bible verses you can look up related to the themes.  The book was very much geared toward Christian couples and strengthening not only your relationship with each other, but also pointing you both toward God through the process of dating.  That was pretty great, I thought.

I found that a lot of the dates were also flexible enough to adapt for a couple with young kids - which is nice, I think, because we can't always get a babysitter (which is probably why I can count on one hand the number of dates we have been on this year).  I liked that we could probably include the kids on a lot of these dates and still have a good time reconnecting with each other!  So Derek and I decided to do a jigsaw puzzle date over Labor Day weekend, inspired by the book.  Here we are:

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(Derek always makes these funny faces when I pull out the camera!  he cracks me up.)


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I think this is a fun book for any Christian married couple, and it will challenge you to date more creatively and think of ways to not just have fun together but also to include the Lord in your dating process.  Definitely check it out!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this review - this is my honest opinion.
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