Media Free Month – 1 week in

We are now one week into our media free month. Here are some of my observations:

– The first week has felt a bit like a vacation. When we are on vacation we limit our media sort of by accident. Traveling, experiencing new things, spending time with people we don’t usually see, not having regular access to our screens just creates a natural break from our media consumption. So last week felt like vacation, even though we were still at home.

– Our evenings feel more peaceful and we are getting lots of extra sleep. Our evening routine used to consist of turning on Netflix after the boys were in bed. Aaron and I would watch a show while also each interacting with our own screens (Aaron on his laptop, me checking Facebook and Pinterest on the Kindle). We usually ended up staying up later than we anticipated. Now we brew some tea, curl up with a book, or have a conversation. We have consistently been in bed by 10pm because there were no other distractions!

– I feel like my “mental space” is more peaceful. By not reading blogs and not seeing peoples opinions on Facebook I feel much less anxious. I have the tendency to compare myself with others and I am seeing that while reading blogs can be useful it also causes me to constantly compare myself and my life to others. Just one week without blogs and I feel like I have more mental space to enjoy the life I have and not worry about whether I am “doing it right” or “doing enough.” And let’s face it, being subjected to everyone’s opinions on Facebook is just tiring. Or at least I am realizing it was for me. It feels good not to be subjected to everyone’s political, social, parenting, yada yada, opinion.

– The boys have been doing great! With screens not even being an option they just don’t ask me about screen time. They automatically find other ways to amuse themselves and so far have not seemed to miss screens much at all. This has relieved a lot of the constant back-and-forth about who gets how much screen time and when. I have also noticed that being disconnected from screens really does have an effect on behavior. We have had fewer arguments, tantrums, etc.

– I have been so productive.  It really is amazing, and humbling, to see how much has been neglected around here because I was distracted by a screen. I have been cleaning, baking, organizing, working in the yard, giving our budget an overhaul, all because I have the time. When I find myself with 15 minutes I have to think of something to occupy myself besides a screen. It really is amazing how much can get done in 15 minutes.

– Not having screens does not eliminate the antsy feeling of needing to be distracted. There are certain times during the day when I just want to check out. I love to read, so I am doing a lot of reading. But that can also become a habit that disengages me from the people around me and distracts me from doing what needs to be done. There are still plenty of ways to shirk my responsibilities, screens just make it a bit easier.

– The beginning of the 2nd week has become more difficult. I do use Facebook as a primary form of communication with many people and I am starting to feel just a tad bit disconnected. Friends in church are due to have babies, weddings are happening, family members are scheduled to take trips, and I feel like I will be missing out on a lot by not following their adventures on Facebook.

So the fast continues and I am learning a lot about myself and our family. Have you ever intentionally taken a media fast? How did it feel?

A gift

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Around Thanksgiving of last year, after considering and beginning the process of the placement of a 2 year old boy, we made the difficult decision to stop the placement and temporarily put on hold our adoption process. This began a difficult time for me of deconstructing all of my previous ideas about who I thought God was, who I thought I was, and what grace really means in my life.

One of the most difficult things for me since that time has been knowing that I had no right to any more information about where little S was placed and how he was doing. We had made our decision and one of the consequences of that decision was not knowing the rest of the story for little S. This was an almost daily battle for me. I used to be a foster care and adoption case manager, I know first hand what happens to children when they begin bouncing around the system. I struggled constantly against guilt at feeling like I had abandoned little S. I had to constantly pray that God would give me peace.

A few weeks ago we were scheduled to have our quarterly meeting with our case manager. Before she came I prayed a lot because I knew the temptation to ask her about little S would be very strong. I didn’t want to ask because I didn’t want to be selfishly trying to ease my own guilt. I had to trust that we made the best decision we could at that time and I had to trust God for the outcome, even if I never knew what the outcome was.

As we were talking our case manager volunteered information about little S. Everything she said indicated that he is in a home where he is loved and thriving. Other details confirm some other hesitations we had about the placement and that the home he is in now is the right place for him to be right now.

This information was a complete gift to me. I did not deserve it, or even have the right to it. But I see it as a loving gift from God, showing me that I can let go of my guilt and continue to trust Him with our future. It showed me that sometimes it is okay to “listen to my heart” and make a decision based on a feeling, or emotion. That maybe God, through the Holy Spirit, even uses our feelings and emotions to guide us. The gift of this information has freed me live more joyfully and confidently, one day at a time. I don’t know what the future holds. Our hearts continue to be burdened for children in difficult circumstances. I continue to feel passionately about adoption. Maybe we will adopt kids in the future. Maybe God will use us in others ways. I don’t have the answers and that is okay. There is joy in knowing that we are doing our best to follow God’s leading today and we can trust Him to work out the details of tomorrow, next month, and years to come.

Buttercups

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He brings them to me by the fistful.

His eyes full of wonder at the extravagance, the sheer bounty of beauty.

They are golden. Radiating bright love.

It occurs to me that even the most precious jewels could not bring as much joy as these simple blooms so freely given.