Mom, you are always on your phone!

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Steve and I stumbled across videos from when Jacob and Zachary were about 1 and 3. We both sat mesmerized by the videos not believing how quickly the time has gone by and fully aware it will not slow down.

Afterwards we found ourselves struck by the same observation. He and I were 100% in the moments we watched on tape. We both seemed so relaxed, wearing contentment on our face.

Something was different about us in those videos.

We were distraction free. Completely.

We didn’t own smartphones. We had no devices. When we were together, we were all in, and the outside world wasn’t invited to crash the party.

We took video for our private viewing, not for the world to like.

No dings, alerts, or alarms chimed barging in on our time.

Whatever crisis took place in the world, we found out about hours after the kids went to bed. No worry and doom lingered over us forcing us to plaster smiles on our faces while our thoughts were miles from the moments.

All the moments were all in moments.

When we were with the kids, we were with the kids. I wish I could say the same is true today.

I continued thinking of those tapes long after they were stored away again.

I’m so glad smartphones weren’t around when my kids were babies.

What might I have missed along the way?

Maybe I would’ve missed:

the way his little hands clapped hard at the bubbles in uncoordinated attempts.

the moment he held the lady bug and tried hard to find her smile.

the time he accidentally kicked that boy’s shin and how he reached down and patted his back until he knew he was ok.

the first time I saw him hold a door for a little lady.

the time he swept the garage and I noticed the proud smile he wore unaware.

the time he, shy and scared, joined the group and the fleeting moment when his face showed the relief of acceptance

I have the opportunity to record millions of small moments that create one amazing journey of life. I have an opportunity to be both an observer and participant in the trivial moments of their days.

Sometimes the trivial moments of the day become the ones they remember most.

I can watch the life in front of me, or I can watch life partially through a screen. I can catch glimpses and not realize how much I’m actually missing. Only when I put down my phone completely am I fully aware of all I’ve missed with eyes darting up and down.

I’ve told myself I don’t have a problem with distraction because I’ve justified my need for screens. My excuses range from ‘I don’t have a home phone, so I need to have it with me at all times in case of emergency.’ Or ‘I don’t want to miss a photo, so I need it close by in case they do something worthy of a capture.’ Or ‘someone will be contacting me and I can’t miss it.’ Or…..the list goes on and on.

In all honesty, I do have many valid reasons I’m on my phone not simply distracted. Life is pretty much completely online now. My work is on the computer, my bills are paid on the computer, I communicate with people on the computer. It is necessary for me to be on a screen at times. The problem is that it never seems to stop. And it creeps in and takes over without us even realizing it.

I find myself out loud telling the kids what I’m doing on my phone. I want them to know I’m not checking out on them but that I’m doing things that must be done.

The other night I followed Andrew up the steps to tuck him in and read stories. As always the phone came along. Because….Steve might need to reach me….or an out of state family member might need something….or a classmate might need to reach one of the boys….or….

And because phones simply never respect my desire to spend time with my children, my phone alerted me to two texts while we headed up the stairs. Andrew was mid-story, I checked my messages, and out of instinct I began to type responses. Andrew stopped talking for a minute then said, “You are always on your phone!”

I halted, dropped the phone, then my flesh became defensive. (Not sure about you, but when I become ultra defensive, it’s because a nerve has been struck, and I know there is likely truth behind the words.)

I began defending myself and explaining all the important reasons why I have this phone attached to my fingers all the time. Then I stopped. I put the phone hidden away in my bedroom, and I continued about our evening.

Andrew’s comment haunted me. How many years have I been blogging about making the most of the moments we have been given? How many posts have I written about the intrusion of electronics on family life? How passionate have I been about protecting our family in a screen driven world? And how little by little I’ve allowed it to creep in. Quietly and slowly.

My kids don’t compare my electronic consumption to the rest of the world’s. All they know is they want my time. They want to know I’m actually listening to their stories. They want to know I actually saw with my own eyes their accomplishment. They don’t care if I missed a photo. We have 100 others we’ve captured this week to make up for it I’m sure.

The world shouldn’t revolve around my kids. And they don’t need to think that they come before everything in life. But when they are away from me 7 hours a day, I need to capitalize on the times I have with them. I care about what they will remember about how I spent my time with them.

When my kids draw a picture of mommy, I don’t want to see a phone in my hand.

While I’m so grateful for the moments I had in their baby years that my phone didn’t steal from me, I can’t put my guard down now. I didn’t want to miss the baby years, and I sure don’t want to miss the preteen and teen years either.

When my boys were small, many wiser women told me to learn to step over the mess so I wouldn’t miss the moments with my babies. Times have changed. Now we battle less learning to step over the laundry piles, and we battle instead the need to put down the phone instead. Lots exists on my phone that is as important as the laundry and dishes, but if I thought it was important to leave some housework undone, then I need to apply the same logic in the digital age.

It all seems urgent and pressing. But sometimes we actually get more done when we put it down, are all in with our families when we are with them, and pick up the phone when we are apart.

It’s time I take a personal offensive position against the invasion of screens in our family life. Even the necessary uses of them. And that doesn’t mean throwing them out the window.

I’m taking the advice I gave my kids. If we want to protect ourself from temptation, I need to decide ahead of time what I will do. We must set our boundary lines before we find ourselves having to fight for self-control.

Social media, phones, news feeds, the latest coolest gadgets, they are all here to stay. But my kids aren’t. And there is nothing my phone can feed me that will take away the regrets of missing some of the sweetest moments of my life.

Yet it is more than missing the moments. If I allow electronic distractions into my life on a daily basis, I miss the call God has placed on my life in this season. What has He called me to that I’m missing because I’m on my phone? Even on my phone for good things.

I’m called to love Him above anything else. Above staying current on the news or up to date on the lives of everyone I know.

I’m called to be a wife. I’m called to be a mother. I’m called to raise my children to love and fear the Lord. I’m called to ministry in so many different venues – we all are.

Without self control, I will miss fulfilling my callings to the best of my abilities. My phone is just one small area I need to practice self-control. But it’s a good place to start.

Last night I pulled the covers snug up to Andrew’s chin. I looked in his eyes and realized he is still young enough that he looks at me with complete adoration. He pulled his arms out of his covers, squeezed my cheeks, kissed all over my face, then pushed my face away so he could look in my eyes.

In that moment, I remembered all over again that there will come a day where he will not look at me like that or kiss all over me like that or give me butterfly kisses with his eyelashes. He will be too old, too big, too mature.

It is worth it to put my phone away so I can be all in when I’m in.

No more excuses, no more justifications, and no more comparisons. Today I choose to be with my people when I’m with them. For me that means that my phone isn’t invited into these times. My people are more important than my feed.

I’ve written many posts on electronics and the family. On the sidebar of my blog, click the electronics category to find them.

The most popular is a letter to my boys on why we limit electronics and has been viewed over 3 million times. You may also enjoy:

 

Dear Kids- A Little Secret About What Electronics Is Stealing From You

How To Rob A Childhood And Miss The Sacred Of Parenting

Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

Exploring Limiting Electronics With Kids

5 Benefits Of An Electronics Fast

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Dear Boys, Saying No To Sex Starts Today

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Want your teen to stay sexually pure? Here's a conversation to have.

Dear Boys,

We’ve been talking about sex for a lot of years now.

You know how dad said, “I know it’s hard to believe, but one day, all you will think about is girls.” And how you all laughed and said, “No way!” Also, remember how dad said that you would begin to experience feelings and urges that are very powerful? And how you looked at us with confusion?

It’s hard to believe, but one day you will understand what we are talking about.

Right now, at 10 and 11, it’s easy to say you will remain pure. It’s easy to say you will not have sex until marriage. It’s all easy when you aren’t in the situation.

The reason it’s easy is because you have never been overcome by hormones, passion, or infatuation. The forces of these have brought the wisest of men down. (Think Solomon) The forces of these have brought down “a man after God’s own heart”. (Think David)

We can learn from their mistakes. And we can learn from the wisdom of others. The choice to remain pure until marriage can literally save your life.

How do you say no to premarital sex in a culture that shrugs its shoulders?

  • You first recognize you are powerless to say no
  • You ask God to give you wisdom to make good choices and the power moment by moment to say no
  • You decide now, right this very moment, that you will remain pure. Don’t wait until you are facing temptation. Otherwise, it might take you down.
  • You stay out of situations where you might say yes to sex before marriage. When it comes to sexual temptation, God says to flee. He doesn’t even want you in that situation. He knows the power it holds. (1 Cor 6:18). At the same time, if you find yourself in temptation, He provides a way out. (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Choose to obey God. No. Matter. What.

Out of this list, I want to stress one decision you must make today. It’s a decision today to remain pure no matter what.

Let’s talk about how ahead of time decision-making played out for Daniel. Daniel, along with others, was brought into the royal court by the king of Babylon. The king instructed that this court be given choice food and wine.

Now Daniel loved God very much. He knew that this food and wine would cause him to sin against God because the food was offered to idols and the wine poured out on pagan altars.

Daniel knew in his head and his heart that he should not take part in this food. Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

Did you notice that phrase…Daniel resolved not to defile himself.

Before Daniel sat down with a plate of this delicious buffet to tempt his watering mouth, he made a choice to say no. Daniel did not wait to decide when faced with the decision. He took the offensive position. He took the upper-hand. Daniel said no before he faced temptation.

Follow Daniel’s footsteps. Choose to abstain from sex before marriage before you are faced with a girl telling you how much she wants to be with you, and that it’s not a big deal, and everyone else is doing it.

How can you be a Daniel in a sex-saturated teen culture?

  • Decide now to remain pure
  • Decide with friends to remain pure and hold each other accountable.
  • Pray for yourself and your friends

Daniel and his 3 friends held strong together. Together we are stronger. Stand with friends to remain pure together.

Find a friend, find a brother, but find someone today that will walk the road of purity with you.

Now, Daniel was faithful to God. And God was faithful to Daniel. But it still ended up with Daniel being thrown into a lion’s den later in life.

Don’t think for a second that just because you have made a decision for purity that you won’t find yourself in a lion’s den. You likely will.

God will deliver you from the lion’s mouth. Stay steady and sure in your faith. Never waver for one second. Don’t be scared by the lion’s den. Remember, God sends His angels to shut the mouths of the lions.

You have nothing to fear.

Daniel never regretted choosing God.

You will never regret choosing purity.

When you say your wedding vows, the greatest gift you can give your wife is the gift of saving yourself for her. When you take your wife, if you remained pure, I promise you will not look back and say, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t waited for this.”

Listen carefully, you are in your training years. When Daniel made the decision to abstain from the king’s food and wine, he was in his training years. Those are the years that God prepared him to be able to sit among the lions fully confident in the one who held those lions back.

You are in your training years. It won’t be easy, but the places God will take you because of your faithful obedience will blow your mind. What God has in store for you because of your obedient faith, doesn’t hold a candle to a moment of pleasure. One that could very well end or change the course of your entire life.

Be a Daniel.

Decide ahead of time that you will say no to sex before marriage.

Keep yourself out of temptation.

Don’t fear. God holds you secure.

And remember, God isn’t trying to withhold anything good from you. He’s trying to protect you so that He can give you the VERY BEST.

Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

I love you with all my heart. I pray daily you will choose a path of purity. I pray you love God more than you love the pleasures of this world. They are enticing and deceitful. If you remember who God is, you can remember that He would only desire what’s best for you.

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I highly recommend the book series God’s Design for Sex. We’ve used these books for years with our kids. It gave us the tools to begin the conversations. We started as early as we can remember so that we would always have open dialogue. Ultimately, our kids will make their own choices. As parents our responsibility is to pray them towards purity, to prepare them with knowledge, and to keep open the doors of communication. Kids today are very confused, and they are going to the wrong sources for information.

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When I Was Held At Gun Point

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Two men entered my home. One stayed in the shadows. The other had the appearance of a robot. Like C3PO. The robot man told me to stay on the couch and not move. I began screaming at them to get out of my house.

They said they were looking for gold. I told them we had none. We don’t store up treasures here. We store them where rust and moth don’t destroy!

He told me to stop screaming and to move aside. He pointed his gun at the place I moved from. He pulled the trigger. There was no bullet. Only a red laser light and a loud sound.

I wasn’t scared at all. I got up from the couch and moved to another room. Suddenly everything in the house was moving, shaking, tossing around. I thought I was seeing the way the robot man would see but realized I was seeing as everything was actually happening. It had the feeling of an earthquake.

I made it into the kitchen. I could hear the men tossing my stuff around in search for gold. The kitchen window was open. In the window was a nest with a beautiful mama bird and her two babies tucked secure under her wings.

A black shadow came toward the window and my heart quickened, and I bit my lip just knowing those babies were about to be plucked from their nest.

The shadow came and went. The babies remained securely in the shelter of the mama’s wings. The mama bird held her position with no fear, completely confident.

Then I woke up.

Dreams have always fascinated me. I took a psychology class on dreams in college and it was by far my favorite class ever. Then again, I was an accounting major. Just about any class is more fascinating than debits and credits.

Typically, these types of dreams bring on a wave of fear. I wake up and look around, realize I’m safe, and thank God it was only a dream. This one felt different. I wasn’t scared in this dream. At all. It was weird.

I know that people say we’ve been saying since the beginning of time the world is getting worse, and I agree with that. But you can’t deny it’s getting worse by giant leaps today. We’ve crossed boundaries and broken covenants. We’ve redefined what only God can define. We’ve taken life that only God can give or take. Our world has changed because the choices we have made. And it will never be the same again until He makes all things new. But don’t lose heart. Hold fast to the faith you once had.

As a christian we look around and feel like strangers in a strange land. And we are! But we can’t dismay. While it is maddening to watch culture glorify sin and mock God, we know that it only means we are that much closer to eternal glory. And that is worth getting excited about.

We must remember that none of this is a surprise to God. None. These things must happen. These things were written about in the Bible. If we’ve been studying, we know where we are in history.

We have a choice to make today. And it’s a choice my husband and I were awakened to by our pastor several weeks ago. Will we be believers or followers? There is a difference.

Remember I wrote about an awakening happening in our hearts? God is waking up His people. We are His sheep, we know His voice.

Our pastor preached a sermon on becoming a true follower, a true disciple of Christ. My friends, it was convicting. And if you sit week after week in church, and you never feel challenged or convicted, then you must ask yourself some tough questions.

Lord, may I never become so comfortable hearing your Word preached that it fails to penetrate and divide my soul and spirit, judging the attitudes and actions of my heart. Awaken me from my slumber.

I wish I could share with you every tiny detail of what God has done in my life, in my husband’s life, and in our kids’ lives over the last several weeks. Since I can’t, I’ll just say, God jolted us awake, and when He did, He lit a fire and a passion in our hearts for Him and Him alone.

I think my passion scares some people. I met with a pastor once when I was marketing Seeking Christmas. As my passion came bursting from my lips, he had a look of surprise on his face. He was quiet, reserved, of few words. As I left his office, he said, “You certainly are passionate.” The drive home I replayed my words, how I should have toned down my voice, not been so animated. Then I realized, I just can’t. It’s who I am. When it comes to my faith, there is no tempering it.

What a time to be awakened. When our world feels like it is spinning out of control, we are alive for such a time as this. He is coming and every day we are here we are here to glorify Him.

All the years God sent prophecies about the Messiah, Jesus was missed by the very ones who were the smartest, most intelligent scholars of God’s Word. They had a lot of knowledge, but look where that knowledge led.

When Jesus came, look at the ones who became His disciples. The ones who chose to go outside the realm of belief and to follow.

I want to encourage you today to ask yourself the question our pastor asked us. Are you a believer or a follower? Do you know the difference?

This culture we are living in needs followers not believers.

A friend 2 weeks ago asked me if I sensed God asking me to focus on the small assignments. Yes. Yes, I do. Jesus didn’t discount the small assignments. The one person who needed to be touched and healed. The one person who needed a word of encouragement.

Jesus mastered the small assignments, which led Him ultimately to the point of conquering the biggest assignment of his life.

What small assignments is God placing before you today? Will you be faithful in the small assignments He places before you today?

Is that not where we begin if we want to follow Him well? Do we not say yes to everything He asks of us? Deny ourselves. Say what? That is radical in a selfish generation that pursues passions and pleasures hard.

To follow Him well, we must say no to us and yes to Him. In a world that is saying “learn to say no”, I say we need to learn to say yes. We’ve mastered saying no. It’s time to master saying yes to Him.

Do you want to stop believing and start following? Take the first step today.

Look for the small assignments. Start there. God will increase your assignments as you learn to follow Him. Follow the example of Jesus. The most humble example we will ever have, the most selfless model we could ever admire.

Jesus said yes to His Father. He said yes to every small assignment the Father asked of Him. Will we follow Him and say yes to the small assignments He gives us today?

If you still don’t know where to start, this is where knowing God gets really fun. He speaks so intimately to His people. If you seek Him with your whole heart you will find Him. Seek Him, you will find Him. He will speak to you. Open the Word. It holds power nothing in this world can stand against.

Happy Monday, my friends. Let’s start this week with a new resolve to follow Him wherever He leads!

I’m so glad you are here with me. This small community is one of the greatest blessings and joys the Lord has given me. A small assignment to write, and He blesses me with your encouragement and your notes. Thank you.

 

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What If We Lived Like Today is Our Last Day?

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“Mom, I think I just heard Jesus tell me I would see him soon.”

I looked at Andrew to see if he wore his ‘I’m just tricking you’ grin. He did not.

“Andrew. Really? No, you didn’t,” I patted his back giving him a playful grin.

“I’m not joking, Mom. I really did. I heard him in my heart. And I really think I just heard him tell me I would see him soon.”

“Well, I can’t wait for the day I get to see Jesus. But even when we are here on Earth, He’s around us everywhere we look.”

On any other day, I would hear his precious words and move right on into our next moment. But in light of this sense of urgency God has laid on my heart, I was unable to shake Andrew’s comment.

I could tell it bothered Andrew that I didn’t believe him. I can relate. I’ve shared my passion and conviction for the times we are living in only to receive a blank stare back, a no response email, or an actual audible laugh.

After last week’s post, for the first time since I’ve started blogging, I received more unsubscribes than subscribes on one particular day. People begin to squirm when we talk about end times. People don’t like to think about things that bring fear or discomfort. The unknown is not fun. And we’d rather read about how much He loves us, and how special we are, and how we are chosen and blessed.

While I don’t want to make you squirm, I do want to remind you that if you are in Him, there is nothing to fear. We are to take heart, to be courageous, to share His love, and wait with excited anticipation, and pray. Yes, excited anticipation for His coming.

At the same time, we feel a sense of urgency because we know the majority of people in our lives don’t hold the same beliefs, and we are desperate for them to know what we know.

While I did receive many blank stares, unreturned emails, or laughs, the Lord was gracious in leading me to others He’s placed the same stirrings in. He crossed my path with others who feel the urgent call to get on our knees and repent, to return to Him, to seek Him, to share with everyone.

Driving to school, Jacob, my insightful and wise old soul, said, “You know, Mom, it’s weird to think how we just go through our routines all the time. We don’t really think about life being different at any given second. We just go through our familiar routines. But then one day, in like a split second, we will see Jesus, and life will never be the same again.”

I’ve pondered that thought all morning. I’ve always been a moment maker, lover of relishing in the moments, tasting and experiencing to the fullest. I understand that each moment is a gift to enjoy because we never know what the next moment holds for us.

But Jacob’s thought has led me in several directions. As christians we often say that we live with eternity in mind. But to be honest, I really don’t live moment to moment with eternity in mind. I’m thinking about what is next on the to-do list, or how to discipline a particular issue, or how to celebrate someone’s birthday arriving in mere days.

Over the last few days, Steve and I have spent more time discussing what really matters in life. I don’t know many believers who disagree that we are living in end times. When you read the signs of the end of the age in Matthew 24, we see all the signs. Jesus tells us they are the birth pains, they must happen, but he also tells us not to be alarmed.

When I was pregnant with Andrew, our youngest, I felt birth pains for what felt like ages. At about 30 weeks, I began having contractions. I went into the hospital for monitoring and went home on bed rest for a short time. For the remainder of my pregnancy, Andrew gave me signs he was ready to be with us always. I got to a point the contractions no longer concerned me. The doctors kept a close watch and everything appeared fine, but the early birth pains remained.

The night of Andrew’s arrival took us by complete surprise. You would think it would have been no surprise, after all, he’d been alerting me with contractions for weeks. But the day he arrived, he became a bit silent. He stopped kicking and squirming as much. Steve made the comment it would be nice if he waited until after Thanksgiving to arrive so we could enjoy the holiday.

10:00 pm Thanksgiving Eve, Andrew went from what felt like slumber to a desperate attempt to escape. We arrived at the hospital in extreme pain, we received no epidural, and Andrew arrived in record time for us.

It happened so fast it took us by complete surprise. Yet, he’d been reminding us all along he was coming.

I feel we are at the same point in our nation’s history. The Bible is clear a date of Christ’s return cannot be predicted, but it is also clear what the signs are leading up to His return. The signs are all around us if we open our eyes.

If we lived like every day was our last, what would our life look like? Would we be a little kinder? Would we speak a little gentler? Would we help with no motives? Would we share the gospel with no fear of rejection? Would we stop caring so much what others think of us and start sharing what matters most? Would we put down our phones and pick up our eyes a little more? Would frustrations suddenly become blessings? Would moments we’ve taken for granted revive us?

If we lived every day like it were our last, would anxiety cease to exist? Is that where true soul rest comes in? When we lay down our worries, being still in Him, and walking in His will. Would today be more than we fathomed because tomorrow wasn’t assumed?

I just wonder what happens to our soul when we live like there is no tomorrow. I wonder if I’d pour out myself with a little more generosity.

Today is September 1st. Today is the day we begin praying for our nation and ourselves to return to God, to seek Him. We pray for a revival and repentance like we’ve never seen. We pray God would heal our land and draw hearts back to Him. We pray for our nation to fall back in love with our God and to serve Him with our whole hearts.

For 30 days, we pray with urgency. All day long as the Spirit prompts, and specifically, 3 times a day we lift our voices together to the Heavens. Thank you for being here. For those who’ve stuck around, thank you. Let’s watch God do amazing miracles before our very eyes.

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Are You A Rebel In a Good Girl’s Skin?

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I don’t think that anyone who knows me would call me a rebel. In fact, they might call me a rule follower. I believe I’m a rule following rebel, or better yet, I’m a rebel in a good girl’s skin.

The rebel that lives inside me is quietly determined, acts in small ways, and can be painfully stubborn. That little rebel behaves well, does what’s expected, and for the most part remains pretty quiet. Until something shakes her awake and begins stirring in her soul.

I’ve become familiar with these rousings. And it comes as no surprise to me, given the state of our nation, that my rebel is speaking a little louder in my head. It’s more than my little rebel right now, it’s God impressing deeply a message on my heart that I must share with you.

To my knowledge I’ve never asked you to share any of my posts. Honestly, it’s because my good girl rebel says, “Who cares about building platforms and audiences. I’m here to share what God shows me and to encourage the believer.” When the publishers and agents advise what a blogger/author should do, my little rebel quietly moves in the opposite direction most times. I say this to say, I’m not asking you to share this because I am trying to develop a larger audience. I don’t write for profit (though there is nothing wrong with that). I’m asking you to share this because God has placed something on my heart and the only way I know to spread the message beyond your eyes is to ask you to spread it to your friends.

The thing is… this is not what I planned or wanted to be writing or focusing on this month. To be shamefully honest, I’m envious of my blogging and writer friends who are posting fun and light posts, who are celebrating book releases and instragraming their days. God knows that in my heart, I had a great lineup planned for this month. But as He often does, He directed me off the path I thought best and is steering me in a different direction for a time.

Our nation stands at a point where we have never stood before. We are seeing culture and politics move in a way that is both shocking and numbing. The thing that is frightening right now is that many are living blind to the times we are living in. When you pair all of this with prophesy, remaining silent is not an option.

I’ve been reading a book about Louis Zamperini to my boys. When we reached the end of the book where Louis chose to forgive his prison camp tormentors, Jacob, my child who has a strong sense of justice, couldn’t believe Louis could forgive them. He said he would probably want to see them pay for what they’d done.

Initially, it bothered me that he felt that way. I reminded myself that he is a child immature in his faith and not to freak out just yet. At least I know what to pray for his heart. But then God reminded me how I feel the same way, I’ve just learned how to phrase it coated with some pleasantries. Heart to heart, we are no different.

The following morning God pressed in hard on my heart. Hard. There are days and moments when God speaks, and it is undeniable. No matter how you try to run from it, you can’t. He will hunt you down. In my quiet time, I tried to escape where He was leading by finding something more pleasant to land on. But God is relentless in His pursuit, stopping at nothing. He started in with me at His Word, but He hasn’t stopped chasing me down with the message He impressed on me.

2 Chronicles 7:14

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Our nation has weighed heavily on me. It’s affecting my thoughts and heart all day long. From Planned Parenthood videos about selling baby body parts, to the redefining of marriage, to Ashley Madison – God help us-, to the Duggars, to sex trafficking, to a predicted stock market crash, to a world of dying and starving children. It’s one thing after another. It’s too much to bear.

I stand here and wonder, why? Why has America turned so far from God? A nation created one nation under God? How did we move so far from Him, and at what point will He remove His hand of protection from our nation? Do we not understand that every blessing we’ve ever enjoyed is directly from His hand? Do we not know that any protection has come from His hand? Do we not believe that a point comes when He will remove His protection because of our disobedient and defiant hearts that refuse to believe and repent?

When I fix my eyes on this world, discouragement is an understatement, despair doesn’t do it justice. Jesus has a word on this.

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I am speaking at a Women’s Retreat in November. Our theme is Take Heart. Isn’t God sweet like that, that I’ve been writing and preparing to share the very words He needs me to hold tight to right now.

On the morning of my quiet time, when God was speaking louder than my sleepy ears wanted to hear, He led me to the book of Jonah. I’ve written on Jonah before. He’s one of my favorites for so many reasons. I encourage you to sit down and read the entire book of Jonah fresh today. You’ll be glad you did.

Now remember, first God led me to 2 Chronicles 7:14 where He says if the people turn to Him and repent, He will heal their land. Now He takes me to Jonah. I read the entire book, which is very short.

God sends Jonah to preach repentance to the evil city of Nineveh. Jonah runs from God. God sends a giant fish to swallow him, where he lives in the belly praying for 3 days. The fish vomits him out, he goes to Nineveh and preaches repentance to the people. The people repent!

Guess what, the people believed Jonah, they believed God, they called for a fast:

Jonah 3:7-10

“Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”

Did y’all read that???? The people called urgently out to God, God saw their repentant hearts, God had compassion, God withheld His judgement of destruction.

America, fellow rebels in a good girl’s (or man’s) skin, it’s time for us to call out urgently to God.

I love Jonah. My Jacob reminds me of him in the following verses. I think Jonah had a strong sense of justice and a little less compassion in the face of evil. But that is not our God. God is just, but God is compassion and mercy and love. But a time will come and is coming when time is up and judgement falls. That is why we need to cry out now!

In chapter 4 of Jonah, Jonah is angry at God and basically says, “Lord, I knew you are slow to anger and compassionate, you abound in love and relent from sending calamity when your people repent, but now I’m so angry I could die.”

God asks a fair question back to Jonah. “What right do you have to be angry?”

God causes a vine to grow up and provide shade to Jonah. Then at night He sent a worm to destroy the vine so it withered. Jonah was happy when the vine provided him shade and mad when it died and he suffered the scorching heat. And this is just a beautiful picture of the compassion of the God we serve.

Jonah 4:10

“But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

Good girl rebels, do we believe God is concerned about our great nation? Yes!!!  Do we believe God is full of compassion, abounding in love, and slow to anger? Yes!!! Do we believe that often God shows mercy when we show repentance and withholds His judgement? Yes!!!

What can we do? How can we change the world? It’s so easy. It’s so easy, yet we forget. We pray.

Tim Keller says in Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God, “Prayer has been called ‘rebellion against the world’s evil status quo.'”

It’s time we lead a rebellion against the world’s evil status quo. We can’t stand by and watch this nation fall under the hand of God’s judgement when He is in His great mercy giving us time to turn back to Him. He desires we return to Him.

Here’s how we can’t lead a rebellion. With words of anger or hate, with words of fear and condemnation, with violence. Our God has never shown us that as the example of bringing His people to Him. It’s His lovingkindness that brings us to repentance.

Will you become a rebel with me? A rebel in a good girl’s skin? A rebel in a good man’s skin?

Our nation can’t tell its right hand from its left hand right now. We need to boldly proclaim a message of repentance. We need to show fierce love by pointing to the cross. But the very first thing we do is pray. We pray for God to change the hearts of our nation, for God to open up eyes and stir up desire to follow Him and His ways. Pray for God to reveal and manifest in ways to His people that draw them to Him. Pray for a turning back point where our nation honors God and follows Him wholeheartedly.

And we need to remember:

Psalm 127:13-14

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

I’m going drastic for the month of September and asking you to join me in going prayer crazy. I’m setting aside 3 times a day to pray specifically for an awakening in our nation and a turning back to God. I’m setting my alarm to pray every day 3 times a day. What if we all set our alarms and prayed together at the exact same time?

Here’s when I’m praying: 9:00 am (est), 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm. These times will be set aside to pray for our nation, revival, awakening, and repentance in our country.

I’m asking you to fast with me on September 1st. If you’ve never fasted, here’s a great resource. I’m asking you to join me September 1-30 praying for our nation 3 times a day. I’m asking that you remain confident that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I’m asking that you take heart, be encouraged, be courageous, be a rebel in a good girl’s(man’s) skin.

When the people of Nineveh heard the message from Jonah, they believed, then they called a fast, and they called out to God. And God had compassion on them and withheld His judgement.

We are standing at the gates of our Nineveh. Please join me on this journey. And I ask that you share this post. On your social media, through email, Bible study, etc. I want the entire country crying out to God this month.

We can remind and encourage each other when we pray at our specified times by posting on social media using the following hashtags #rebelinagoodgirlsskin #rebelinagoodmansskin #prayingforamerica

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Dear Kids – A Little Secret About What Electronics Is Stealing From You

electronicsstealing

Today’s post comes at the request of readers – for your kids, my kids, your grandkids. This is an open letter to kids of ages approximately 9-14 growing up in a digital age.

Dear Kids,

I have a little secret I want to share with you. Electronics are stealing something away from you, and you have no idea.

In this entire world, there is not a single person like you. Think on that. You are unique, you have something to offer this world, you have discoveries to make and ideas to form. Your life will tell a story one day. In fact, every day is like writing a page in the story book of your life. Have you ever thought of your life as a story?

You know what makes a story interesting? A collection of unique, different stories that when put together make a story you can’t put down. A boring story is one that tells the same story from page to page.

Think of your day today and all the little moments you experienced. That really funny joke that made you laugh until your sides hurt. Or that unexpected thing someone said that made you spit milk through your nose doubled over in a deep belly laugh. Then discovering that laughing is contagious when your friends start laughing with you. The moment your brother or sister said something that aggravated you and how in the span of 2 minutes you could go from angry to laughing. That embarrassing moment during recess that you wish you could erase but you know that one day it will tell a very funny story.

Your life is a collection of moments. Moments become memories. Memories are a gift and a treasure. 

You are a moment collector, memory creator, and a master storyteller.

Memories make us smile, cry, and laugh. Memories comfort us when we are sad and make us smile when we want to cry. Memories can teach us lessons, and they remind us that we are special, that we are loved, that we are known. Our memories tell a story unlike anyone else’s story. It’s yours and yours alone. How cool is that?

Now let me ask you a question to think about. When you think of memories, do visions of video games play in your head? When you think of moments that you want to remember forever, are you thinking back to when you defeated that last level?

You know what electronics, devices, screens, and video games are stealing from you? Time.

When electronic devices steal your time, they steal your moments that could’ve been. When it takes your moments, it takes your memories that never had a chance to form. When it takes your memories, it takes your story and makes it boring because it all looks the same.

If your story is one big video game, it will be a pretty boring story to tell one day. And you aren’t boring. You are unique and one-of-a-kind.

Kids, you were created by God- for a purpose. You were made for more than conquering boards and clashing clans. You were created for a unique purpose and no one can tell the story of your life like you can.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should NEVER be on a screen. That is silly given the world we live in. It doesn’t mean if you like video games, you will be boring. My boys love video games, and they are the most interesting kids I know, but I’m biased. So let’s explore this a little more because I’m not saying you should never be on a device.

What I want you to hear is that devices secretly control us, but they make us think we control them. And when they control us, they steal our time and make us miss out on making our story interesting.

It’s the reason you find yourself talking about it non-stop with your friends, or rushing through homework so you can go play a video game, or not really wanting to talk to your mom about your day because you have wars to fight in a make-believe world. We think we control electronics, but they can easily control us.

Life happens only once. Childhood is experienced only one time by each person. It’s not a video game where we get a ‘2nd life’ to play the board of childhood again.

Have you ever noticed that when you play a video game, 30 minutes actually feels like 5? That is how fast childhood goes as well. 18 years will feel like 5.

When your eyes are on a screen, you will never see what you are missing. You will never know what could’ve been if you had just looked up. And that is why I urgently want you to understand this.

You don’t know what you are missing because you are having so much fun playing on a device. You are entertained, so you don’t feel you are missing out on anything. You are having fun. But life is more than being entertained. Life is for living, creating, playing, and feeling. Nothing you experience on a screen can come close to what God has for you in the real life world He’s placed you in. Don’t accept 2nd, 3rd or last best for your life. Accept your best life now, which is the very place God has placed you.

The thing is…when you are a child, you can’t see this. It’s only when you look back that you can fully understand the treasure of childhood. Trust me, put down the devices and go be a kid. You will never regret putting down a device, but you could regret spending some of the best years of your life in make-believe worlds.

I have a few more things to share with you to encourage you to put the screen down and go enjoy this life. I will be writing you another letter or two on this subject looking at different perspectives. I hope you will keep reading.

In the meantime, I have a little challenge for you if you are up for it? Are you?

This week’s challenge is to make one small change in your electronic life. That will look different for everyone (remember we are each unique and have a different story, so yours will look different than your best friend’s). Maybe if you play your device everyday, you choose 3 days to play. Maybe if you always take it in the car, you start leaving it at home. Maybe if you always discuss it with your friend, you choose something different to talk about. Maybe if your parents let you play as long as you want, you set a timer for 30 minutes instead. There are many small changes you can make. Choose one for a week and write a list of how your moments looked different when you took your time back from the devices.

Love,

Renee

videogames

You may also enjoy:

A Letter To My Boys : The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics

How To Rob A Childhood And Miss The Sacred Of Parenting

Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

Exploring Limiting Electronics With Kids

5 Benefits Of An Electronics Fast

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How To Rob a Childhood And Miss The Sacred of Parenting

Andrewbraves

It’s been about 14 months since I wrote my boys a letter about why we limit electronics in our home. If you haven’t read it, please do so you can understand my heart before reading this post. At the time I wrote that letter because they felt different and continued asking why I wouldn’t allow them to carry a device with us everywhere we go. Much has changed in their hearts in 14 months. Much has changed in my heart. We all feel stronger in our resolve to limit the grip of electronics in our home.

I wrote that letter from my perspective, a mom not wanting to miss a moment of a fleeting childhood. A mom desiring to invest in the moments and watch real life bloom in their hearts and lives.

I received enormous amounts of mail from parents who felt just as I did but felt powerless to the electronics grip on their children. Parents who allowed their kids to play because they didn’t want their kids to feel different or alienated from their friends.

I have some new thoughts to share. My eyes have been opened to the threats this young generation is facing that we have been blinded to. I’m calling out to all parents who are with me in this season of life to rise up. To stand up and make a bold change. I’m asking you to take a stand that will save your child’s childhood from being robbed by a make-believe world. I’m asking you to protect the sacred moments of your parenting years. The window of time is barely a crack that we have them to influence and lavish with love.

My tone has changed in 14 months because God has awakened something in me. He has shown me where the enemy is blinding parents, allowing parents to justify their choices in allowing electronics to invade the home and family. “It’s all innocent fun.” “They need to fit in.” “I need a break.” I get it. I’m right here with you on every single point.

We were never called to fit in. We were never called to train our children to fall into peer pressure. We were never called to model to our children fitting in and finding acceptance in the eyes of others. We were never called to make choices for our children to make their paths easier in friendships and relationships. We were never called to set our children up for a life of addiction (this sounds dramatic, but I assure you video games are highly addictive and allowing addiction as a child only increases the likelihood of other addictions in their future as they will continue seeking the feel-good pleasure experiences).

Pregnant with my first child, I promised God I would raise him to love God more than anything else. That is the first and greatest command, after all. Baby arrives, baby grows, innocence fades, and that battle becomes real – tangibly real. My job as a mom is to battle hard for my children. I’m battling the dark forces of this world that my children are unable to see.

It’s a battle, my friends. A real-life battle. As our children sit hooked to their iPads battling in a make-believe world, there is a true battle occurring for their hearts, their minds, their souls, their very lives.

While our children live out their free moments in clash of clans, halo, or whatever new game comes along to clutch them in its grips, their childhood is being robbed. And they have no idea. They have no clue what they are missing out on. We know what they are missing. It’s our job to protect our children. Childhood is a gift to experience only once. Then the worries and stresses of life become real to them and childhood is gone.

Electronics are robbing our children of one of the sweetest gifts they will ever experience. The carefree, innocent life of a child.

Here’s what has changed in my boys in 14 months. They see mostly the tops of heads of children when we are out in public. We traveled by plane to Florida last week. We couldn’t spot one single child traveling device free. Entire families sat with heads buried. For the first time, they expressed sadness over what the kids were missing out on rather than what they were missing out on.

Traveling with devices is convenient. Devices don’t argue, they don’t ask for things, they don’t intrude on our time, they don’t demand anything, they entertain, they pass time. But what if God wants more? What if He wants us to teach our children patience and self-control, to become creative in boredom, not giving into our desires? Devices give our children what they want, when they want it. Devices entertain our kids so we don’t have to deal with the messy stuff. If they all play their iPads, I don’t have to deal with mediating arguments. I don’t have to answer questions. I can read my own book and enjoy some peace. My children appear well-behaved (until you take away the device). I look like a good parent who can take children in public, instead of the parent correcting sassy mouths and breaking up fights in public (which is quite normal). What if that isn’t what God wants for those moments in my parenting? What if He has precious gifts for me that don’t look so pretty, and I miss them because we are all living so darn distracted?

Here’s where we are right now. My boys don’t want to be “different”, but they don’t want to live with buried faces either. Would they have expressed this 14 months ago? No way! I had parents write me that I would breed resentment in my boys’ hearts. Prayer can change a heart and its hunger. I’m not worried about that. I serve a God who desires to have children who love Him wholeheartedly. And that is what I’m praying.

I had parents write me that I was setting my kids up to be outcasts. There’s a Bible full of outcasts that God used in amazing ways. We are ok with outcasts. It’s all in how you present things to your kids. I don’t come down as a dictator telling them I will not allow such in our home. I share my heart and passion with them. I share with them the why’s behind our concerns so they understand and as they grow hopefully they will be equipped to make wise decisions. We explain that this isn’t because we are mean and don’t want them to have fun, but that we love them so much and want them to experience the abundant life God has for them. If they are living through a screen, they will miss out on the moments God has for them.

Battles weren’t designed to be easy. I don’t expect that because I’m passionate about this topic, that God will smooth that path for me and give me children who desire no part of the video game world. I expect quite the opposite. I expect that God will allow me to walk a rough road so that He can refine me and show Himself awesome before my very eyes.

We are at a new crossroads. One where my boys find it difficult in their friendships now. They miss the days where they could have real conversations with their friends. They miss talking about sports and games and gross things and silly things. One of my boys said, “I just want to have real conversations again with my friends, but all they talk about is video games.” Childhood robbed by video games.

It looks innocent, it’s not innocent.

God placed talents, gifts, passions, and desires in each of us. When our children live in a make-believe world, and only live for the next moment they can play, they may never discover gifts hiding in their hearts.

We are currently on a fast from electronics, which is why all of our eyes are opened to the enormity of this issue. We planted a garden. I watch 2 of my boys spending time learning, growing, caring, tending these plants. I watch them amazed at the miraculous growth and watch them make connections about growing what we cultivate. I want to cultivate a love for life, experiences, and deep relationships.

One son picked up long lost hobbies of coin collecting and baseball card collections. I’ve watched another son become interested in reading and writing. I’ve watched one son spend more time reading his Bible. I’ve watched one son thinking more critically. These are gifts I am experiencing because their heads are up this month.

I’ve had gifts of extended, heart-pouring-out conversations with 2 of my sons. If they were engrossed in games, we would all miss out. We would all be robbed.

Electronics are robbing our children of their childhood and they are robbing us parents of experiencing their childhood as well. The enemy wants us to brush this off. The enemy wants you to read this and say, “She’s crazy and way too dramatic.” He’s good like that. He’s good at making big deals not such a big deal.

For some kids, video games don’t grip them. Some kids can easily handle playing and still relating in life, talking about normal topics, looking adults in the eyes, playing carefree. Other kids simply can’t.

God has given parents the gift of seeking wisdom from Him. If there is the slightest nudge in your heart to explore further, please seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Ask for His discernment in making changes that will save our children’s childhoods.

The most common response I receive is from parents who despise how their kids are sucked into games and want to get rid of it. I always ask this, “Then why don’t you?” It’s in us to want to please our children, we fear they will hate us if we take away their games. If it is affecting family life, relationships, work ethic, motivation, physical exercise, attitude, then let it go. We are still the parents. While they are under our roof, we have a job to do. That job doesn’t include making them like us or making them happy all the time. In fact, it might look the opposite for a time. But giving the issue over to God will change everything. God will change the angry heart. God will change the heart’s hunger. If we ask Him to.

I still have so much I want to share. But I have to ask my son’s permission first before I share it. But I will say this, God laid on my heart this morning to pray radical prays for the hearts of children in this generation to thirst and hunger not for video games, but for real-life, real childhood. Would you join me? If you feel frustrated by what you see in your own kids or the kids in your life, would you pray God remove their desires to live game to game and instead hunger for a life that offers more than they could ever imagine?

You may also enjoy this post: Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

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