For years I’ve been writing about screen addiction, digital detoxes, and electronic boundaries to protect our families and our children. The first post was a letter to my boys about why I limited their electronic usage. After watching that post go viral multiple times, I realized this was a topic important to millions of families just like us. I began exploring the topic more and sharing my findings and insights here with you all. You can find many of those posts here.
I’ve never been a fan of a smartphone in the hand of a kid or even a young teen.
When Zachary turned 13 we bought him his first phone. It was a flip phone. I thought that would be the safest option. As it turns out, it’s not much better than a smart phone. On the flip phone you are unable to disable internet access. Yes, the flip phone has internet access. But with little to no parental controls.
We have bought 2 flip phones. Each time we’ve gone to the store we’ve been told there was only 1 option, 1 flip phone. No choices. We have also been told there is no demand and soon we will have no flip phone options.
I disagree with the lack of demand. I talk to too many parents and listen to you all share your heart for wanting a safer option.
Now that Zachary is almost 15, a flip phone isn’t the coolest thing in the world. To text on a flip phone is not super easy. So he’s reached a point where he began asking for a smartphone, but we aren’t ready to open that world to him at this point. He has more than enough internet access via computers and iPads in our home, we really don’t want him carrying access to the world in his pocket. And let’s be honest, we adults struggle to manage the distractions, so expecting our kids and teens to filter through the mess online is a setup for frustration.
I’ve scoured the internet for safe phones for teens. I end up finding nothing. Then one day as I scrolled Facebook an ad popped up. This one instantly spoke to me because it advertised a phone with no internet access, the look of a smartphone, with all the major functions important to us.
The price was perfect, the monthly service was the exact amount I already paid, so I bought it right off the ad. I don’t think I’ve ever bought from a FB ad before!
Ya’ll! I’m in love with this phone.
Put really simply, our mission is to protect children, connect families and encourage life outside the screen.
This video explains the heart behind this company and their mission. Created by a dad who found himself in the same place I did, standing in a phone store realizing the market held nothing to give our kids what they wanted while protecting them the way we want to protect them.
Key features of this phone:
Phone, Text, Camera, Calendar, Calculator. Unlimited talk and text for $19.99 and month. And the coverage is excellent!!
No internet, no app store, no social media, no games, no ability to send and receive pictures (which is becoming a major problem with inappropriate images sent and received by kids).
I bought our phone when it was on sale for $69. Currently the Gabb phone is being offered for $49, plus I have a promo code for an additional $5 off. Just use promo code RENEEROBINSON when you check out.
*****This post contains affiliate links.*****
*****See About page for full affiliate disclosures. I only share what I absolutely love and believe in. I’d share this with no affiliate link. Affiliate links cover a small portion of the cost of maintaining my website, so I’m always grateful for your support when purchasing and sharing through the links I provide. I turn down nearly every company who asks me to partner with them. If I share it, I use it personally and want you to love it as well!*****
Here’s some posts over the past several days. Scripture I’ve pondered, books I’ve read, thoughts I’m taking to God. And at the end of the day, settling back on the only unchanging hope we have. He is good always.
The only power to help us
“The crisis of the age we live in is the abandonment of truth, inevitably in the decline of moral values.”“Most of the early twentieth-century sociological works I read claimed that crime was caused by environmental forces such as poverty and racism. But in 1977 psychiatrist Samuel Yockelson and psychologist Stanton Samenow published a landmark seventeen-year study called The Criminal Personality, which refutes that claim. The only adequate explanation for crime, they conclude, is individual moral choices. The solution to crime, therefore, is “the conversion of the wrongdoer to a more responsible lifestyle.”
“But in an age of relativism, this worldview has steadily lost its grip on American culture, largely because Christians themselves have failed to recognize how God’s truth applies to every aspect of life.”
Charles Colson quotes from Born Again.
I just finished book 46 of 2020. Born Again by Charles Colson. He was convicted of Watergate-related offenses and spent time in prison on those charges. Jesus Christ saved Him, made him a new man, and used him to shine a light in the dark prison world. He has a unique story from inside the White House and political system, inside the prison system, inside law and justice as an attorney, and finally as a converted man, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
This book, again, was timely and powerful for me to read.
Let His Word settle you
“We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in the light of them in ordinary ways.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.
This inspirational #teatowel reminds us that the majority of our lives are filled with ordinary, mundane moments, but lived in the Spirit of God they are holy.
May we do all for His glory.
Anyone weary? Our souls weren’t created to receive the load of information and news we take in each day. Is God asking you to come to Him and receive rest?
“Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7
Jesus told the crowd that it wasn’t what they ate that made them unclean, it was what was already inside them, residing in their own hearts. The disciples came to Jesus, talking about the religious Pharisees, and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this statement?”
I love how Jesus responds in Matthew 15:13 “Every plant that my Heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. Leave them alone! They are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both fall into a pit.”
In the margin of my Bible I have written “it’s not worth arguing with the blind.”
Jesus spoke the truth and the truth offends. Period. The truth is offensive to the blind. Is it our job to make them not offended? Nope. We speak the truth in love. It may offend. Jesus didn’t go back to make sure they weren’t offended. He said “Leave them alone.” They are blind and my Father will deal with them.
Another thing worth noting, be careful we aren’t following the blind. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in a pit when they fall. Stay in step with Jesus and you never worry about being on the wrong side.
For the full account read Matthew 15:10-20.
There will come a day…
Imagine a day where millions of people simply disappear from the earth. You are driving down the freeway and cars start running off roads because drivers disappeared into thin air. Planes fall from the sky as some pilots are gone. You are at the checkout counter and the clerk is gone. Literally people vanish. Chaos is everywhere. And no one knows what has happened to all the people. Then lawlessness takes over. Evil has taken over. Sounds super freaky and far fetched right? Well, it’s not. It will happen. And I believe sooner than we realize.
Here’s some of my story.
I’d been resisting God for years in my life. I didn’t have all my questions answered, I thought my life would become stale and boring, and I didn’t think I could live to God’s standards. So I kept pushing Him away. But He chased me down. Everywhere I turned someone was telling me about Him or inviting me to something. Then my mom gave me the book Left Behind. I devoured the entire series. I read about what the Bible says will happen at the end of the world and I was stunned. I was terrified and realized I didn’t want to be left behind. The horrible things were coming to deal with evil. Yet I didn’t feel I fit on the side of God or of evil. I was just hanging in the middle, doing “good” on my own without repenting and surrendering to Jesus. I realized that by default put me on the side of evil. I had to make a choice now before it became too late which side I wanted to be found on.
I gave my life to Jesus and He made me a new person. The burden that lifted off me that day I didn’t even know I’d been carrying. I remember standing in an atrium feeling free. Like a prisoner who was just released from jail. I didn’t know I’d been living in chains.
That was almost 20 years ago. I’d been married for 4 months. Jesus saved my life and I have made the rest of my life about knowing Him and making Him known to the world.
I remember in Left Behind the main characters trying to figure out where their mom and brother had disappeared to. The mother and brother were Christ followers but the dad and sister were not. The beginning of the book became about survival.
When Jesus takes me and my family out of this world while He deals with evil once and for all, I know that strangers will be in our home taking all the things we left. I wrote a letter placed in a Bible explaining where we went and how they can join us there. How they too can still be saved.
My goal in the next few days is to make copies of that letter and place it in all our Bibles and all over our home. When evil comes in, I want to still leave the path that leads towards hope. To Jesus.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thes 4:13-18
I’ve learned to trust that voice when it whispers a suggestion to silence the clamoring of the world. My soul reached a point of fatigue. The constant barrage of fake news and the assault of emotionally charged stories with a sole purpose to incite us persevered.
The prior week, God showed me the word strength repeatedly.
Psalm 84:5 “Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”
Psalm 18:39 “You have clothed me with strength for battle.”
2 Cor 1:21 “Now it is God who strengthens us, with you, in Christ and has anointed us.”
Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”
Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, You answered me, you increased strength within me.”
Here’s what I’d noticed within myself – I was short-fused, quick tempered, irritable, highly anxious, and angry. I found myself reading the news and scrolling Facebook before spending time quietly with God. Then I’d enter my time with God mad that the world seemed to have lost its mind, angry at the state of disunity in our country, sad at the attacks waged on each other, and anxious about what all this means for our future.
I’d become as distracted as ever. Physically I shared the same space with my kids, but mentally and emotionally I focused on all the information my brain consumed around the clock.
Our souls were not created to handle the amount of information we are fed.
I love learning. I love being informed. Both of these became idols in my life.
I need Jesus today more than I ever have before. We never stop needing Him, but it’s easy to live in a way that pushes Him into the background.
I knew what I needed. A fast. A fast is the only way I’m able to break the addictions and idols that attempt to take root.
For a week I listened as God asked me to come back to Him to find the strength my soul needed for the calling He’s placed on my life. My flesh battled for control. I never want anything other than Christ to have control over me. So I said yes to God to come away from the news, the media reports, the documentaries, the constant stream of information, and the strong opinions filling my social media feeds.
As always happens when I fast from social media and screens in general, I feel like a new human. My chest moved out of my throat. My heart rate slowed to a normal pace. My skin stopped itching. I began to feel love and compassion for other humans again. But the best part, I began to hear God with clarity again.
Before the fast my prayer continued to be “God give me clarity.” All the news is so confusing. Who do we believe? What would you have us to do?
I don’t trust a single media source. One publication one day says the sky is falling. The very next day, the same source reports something that is the complete opposite. God is unchanging. He is full truth. He is faithful. He is just. He is good. Always. I simply need to focus on Him.
As I considered a fast, God gave me several dreams confirming a break would bring the refreshment and clarity I longed for.
So I posted a “see ya later” on social media. I deleted the apps from my phone to remove all temptation. And I haven’t read a single thing in the news in days. And I feel AMAZING!!!
I know this isn’t sustainable, but it is necessary.
The morning following my fast, I had coffee with a friend. We hugged, we chatted, we caught up, and I left feeling God’s sweetness poured out. The same night my family had dinner at a restaurant downtown. It was the 2nd time Steve and I ate in a restaurant since they began opening back up. It felt so normal and exciting, and I enjoyed that night more than I’ve enjoyed a dinner out in a long time. Over the weekend, I shopped in a few favorite stores. Again I was so thankful for the reopening of stores and restaurants. To see people, to interact, even to have small talk, which I usually despise, all of it I hope never to take for granted again!
Saturday night we had friends over for dinner. It’s the first time we’ve had people over since all the Covid chaos began months ago. Community is what we’ve missed the most. We hugged, and laughed, and ate, and played games, and stayed up much too late, but we dared not end a moment too soon. One thing I’ve learned in this season is we never know when a moment in time will be a last or a last for a long time.
My hope is to cherish people, relationships, community, physical contact, and freedom with a renewed spirit.
I know it’s likely time for my fast to end, but I’ve found ending a fast from the online world is harder than starting one. Enjoying real life again is so liberating. The joy the world stole was restored. And I’m so incredibly thankful.
During my time of fast, I asked God if I should silence everything or if there was an audiobook I should listen to which would be beneficial rather than informational. He brought to mind a book I’ve stored away on an app in my phone. The title is Competing Spectacles – Treasuring Christ in a Media Age, by Tony Reinke.
Within minutes I knew this was the message God needed me to hear in response to the cry of my heart regarding the state of our media’s handling of Covid and all the conflicting news we receive daily, which leads people to living in states of fear, stress, and confusion.
“In a news age when blatant shock is the only surefire strategy for gaining viewers, cable news feeds our collective panic, and outrage becomes good business for the newsmakers who can keep our collective cortisol level, our stress hormone, high enough to maintain a constant fight or flight urgency. Christians must guard against these spectacle tactics that manipulate our senses.”
“We are now more media obese than we are physically obese and we are not happier. We are lonelier. We are more depressed.”
“Creation spectacles also demand a response for our worship. We are all made to experience awe, and God’s creation is eager to magnify the Creator in our eyes.” (We must escape screens to experience this.)
“We redeem time by reclaiming our attention.”
Our attention is ours to give as we see fit. The media has a job, steal our attention and keep it. They will use any and all methods, but mostly fear, shock, and awe. It’s how they keep us coming back. I’m over it.
I have a choice to give them my outrage or not. I’m tired of the news deciding I need to feel outraged, angry, sad, confused, or terrified.
I’m taking back my attention. I’m living out the life God has given me. He has called me to live life abundantly here and now.
I’ve been pondering the various aspects of Ecclesiastes 3, particularly “a time to speak and a time to remain silent.” I’ve asked God to clearly reveal to me if I’m to speak or remain silent as it relates to this Covid season of media manipulation. I want to share one of the ways He confirmed.
First, to clarify, I’m not claiming Covid isn’t real. I’ve been quite vocal on social media about this. It’s as real as any flu strain or other virus. For particular people, it’s extremely dangerous, as is the flu. It’s our media I’m so upset with. And I feel many don’t see what I feel God has revealed to me about the psychological war waged on us.
In Competing Spectacles, Tony Reinke says, “Christians must call out worthless things for what they are. We should boldly stand up and expose spectacles of politics, warfare, entertainment, and social media when we sense they are lies, propaganda, or flesh-driven. In the age of the spectacle, few people can see through the mirage of the spectacle industry to call out worthless things. Christians can speak and must speak prophetically to de-mask spectacles as the powerless things they really are. We are called to pull back the curtain and reveal the demonic forces that stand behind nefarious spectacles that dominate our age…”
Maybe you can relate. Maybe your soul is media-wearied too. Maybe this covid season has really placed a heavy burden of stress and fear and you are ready to reclaim the peace Christ promises. Maybe a fast would be good for you too? I’ve never taken a fast and wished I’d stayed plugged in instead.
I have a story to share and a point to make. Stick with me.
After 3 months of undergoing a full bathroom renovation, I anxiously anticipated my first bath in the new tub. The tub is much smaller than our previous so it filled quickly. I stepped in and instantly hopped right back out. It was scalding hot! The water didn’t feel terribly hot from the spout. As it filled, the water temperature seemed not a big deal. But enough of that in the tub created an environment I wanted no part of. I realized I’d have a learning curve with our new settings.
By the time I took my second bath, I’d learned my lesson. I adjusted the temperature handle much lower. I stepped in. The water was much cooler than I prefer, but I could sit in it comfortably. Sitting in the cool water, I adjusted the temperature as it filled to much hotter. Because I was comfortable and had accepted how it felt, I could tolerate it. I stayed in while the too hot water was added. As the temperatures mixed, the water warmed rapidly. But I was already comfortable in that water so felt no need to hop out as I did when stepping directly into that too hot water only one short bath ago.
As I soaked, I envisioned the frog analogy we all know quite well. If you want to cook a frog you don’t put him directly into boiling water because he will sense the danger and jump right out. Instead put him in a somewhat comfortable environment. Make him think he’s safe. Then slowly increase the temperature on him. Before he has time to realize he’s in danger, he’s cooked. You trick the frog.
My nature is the opposite of a bandwagon jumper. When I see the masses go toward something, my inclination is to pause and assess. At the same time, I’m not rebellious. I’m very much a rule-follower. Over the years I’ve realized God has given me a strong sense of discernment. It almost feels like an internal alarm that begins to sound. When it sounds, I have learned to pay attention.
I’ve also realized that some people lie. Some people have evil motives and agendas. People are human, so they can make severe mistakes even with no poor intentions.
But what I’ve really learned in the last several years is that spiritual warfare is more real than you can imagine. And if our eyes were opened for 5 seconds to what happens in the realm we can’t see, we’d be shocked silent. Or shocked to the point of being unable to remain silent.
That’s kind of where I am these days. My discernment alarm has been sounding for awhile. God began to wake me up to a few things in 2015, but I got comfortable again and stopped really praying or caring quite honestly about what felt so pressing in 2015/2016.
Do you believe in good versus evil? If so then you will understand what I’m sharing here.
In the commentary of my CBS bible study workbook there is an apply what you’ve learned section which reads:
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). Evil (and satan) must be actively resisted, or it will take over any earthly territory that is not claimed by Christ and His followers. This is true not only in the world around us, but within our own lives. If we do not submit ourselves to God (James 4:7), the devil will not flee-he will hang around harassing and enticing us. We should not allow ourselves to be complacent regarding evil, “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs: (2 Cor 2:11).”
Satan has schemes and plans. And part of that is to steal freedom, to make us slaves through this physical realm, but ultimately slaves to his desires.
Christ came that we should be free. God has never shown that freedom should not be a goal. He led His people out of slavery into the promised land. Christ came to set us free from death. Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not be burdened by a yolk of slavery again.”
Until Jesus returns for a 2nd time, which He will, we are called to advance His Kingdom here on earth. To advance His Kingdom, we must push back the darkness. We must resist the enemy. We simply can’t stand still and do nothing.
A call has gone out over the entire world. Repent. Turn back to God.
He is truly our only hope. No doctor, no vaccine, no medicine, no government, no man. In Christ alone. In Christ alone.
In our current situation, our nation is once again divided. Matthew 12:25 tells us “Knowing their thoughts, He told them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”
We are in information overload right now. We each bring to the discussion various perspectives and sets of knowledge and experience. We each carry different burdens to bear. My prayer is that we see our national and world situation with a common goal – the absolute best for humanity.
The burden I seem to bear these days is a call out to awaken our nation to stand for our freedoms, our civil liberties, which people fought and died for. Jesus died for my eternal freedom. Americans have died for our national freedoms.
What I see happening is us sitting in lukewarm bathwater, comfortable enough, accepting a new normal, while the temperature is increasing as freedoms are removed one tiny chip at a time.
Remember this famous quote by Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death”? Why do you think he said that? Maybe because life without freedom isn’t life at all?
Right now fear is leading many of us. We are isolated, which is a common tool the enemy uses. When I started homeschooling, I felt isolated and entered into a depression that lasted several weeks. Satan tormented me. A close friend told me to get out and reconnect with people so satan wouldn’t be so influential in my thoughts.
We are at war, and we must realize it. We’ve always been at war. Satan never stopped fighting for what he wants. He comes to steal, kill, destroy. Why do you think God tells us this in the Bible? Why do you think we are told in Ephesians 6 to put on the armor of God?
I can’t sit back and watch satan advance. Jesus may come today or in 1,000 years. For each breath I have, I want to advance the Kingdom. To advance, someone must retreat or be pushed back.
Repent. Pray. Stand firm. Suit up in your armor. Move forward. Don’t retreat. Advance.
Ask God what your assignment is. He will tell you. We won’t all have the same assignment. Together, united for His Kingdom, freedom wins.
How do we carry a burden well?
Every day during this pandemic I’ve asked God why I’m handling this the way I am. Is there something wrong with me? Why do my friends on social media seem so happy and positive? Is my faith weaker? Am I fearful? Do I not trust and wait well?
I open my eyes, and my thoughts begin to swirl. I’m feeling fatigued mentally and emotionally. I hurt when others hurt. I tend to take on the feelings of others far too easily.
Today I began my day the same as I do each day, coffee and God. I sat in the silence lacking the motivation to crack open His Word. I just needed to sit.
We start with prayer
I opened my journal and began writing to God. Side note: journaling keeps me from a wandering mind during prayer. Here’s what I wrote:
Lord, What is it you want me to do in this season? What do you want me to hear from you? Give me ears to hear and eyes to see. Lord, I want to represent you well. Teach me when to speak and when to be silent.
I’d also journaled to God how overwhelmed I felt with burdens from this world and how I wake feeling a racing heart.
We listen and watch for His reply
I then reached for my favorite devotion. I think you know the one (insert wink emoji), My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. The day was April 13th, the key verse: Psalm 55:22 Cast thy cares upon the Lord.
“We must distinguish between the burden bearing that is right and the burden bearing that is wrong. We ought never to bear the burden of sin or of doubt, but there are burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off, He wants us to roll them back on Him.”
We engage in dialogue with God
I stopped and journaled my prayer:
Lord, reveal to me which burdens are right and which are wrong. Teach me to roll the burdens back to You.
I went back to reading the devotion by Chambers.
” If we undertake work for God and get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility will be overwhelmingly crushing; but if we roll back on God that which He has put upon us, He takes away the responsibility by bringing in the realization of Himself.”
“Many workers have gone out with high courage and fine impulses, but with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, and before long they are crushed.”
I picked up my pen with a gasp. Lord, I want intimate fellowship with You. Keep me from being crushed by giving me the wisom to stay intimately connected to You.
Back to Chambers.
“They do not know what to do with the burden, it produces weariness, and people say, ‘What an embittered end to such a beginning!”
Back to my journal. LORD! Teach me to roll my burden back to You. Keep me from becoming weary and protect me from an embittered end.
Back to the devotion, which feels as a direct rebuke and letter of instruction from God to me.
“Roll thy burden upon the Lord- you have been bearing it all; deliberately put one end on the shoulders of God. ‘The government shall be upon His shoulders.’ Commit to God ‘that He hath given thee’; not fling it off, but put it over onto Him and yourself with it, and the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship. Never disassociate yourself from the burden.”
Lord, this devotion feels like the most kind and tender gift to me. You desire to carry the burden but I keep picking it up alone. Lord, teach me to pray. Amen.
We reflect on the conversation
As I open-mouth reflected, I realized the burden I feel is given to me by God. The problem is that I forget to give Him the proper load. I trudge along dragging the burden when all the while He has open hands to help me. He is the load carrier. I can be His companion.
As I questioned the burden I feel for our nation, I sensed God telling me He has given me this burden for a reason, not to fling off, but He’s asking me to rely on Him and stay in intimate relationship with Him. The government is on His shoulders, not mine. I can pray. I can share and lead and encourage and point back to the cross.
I share because I trust God speaks to each of us in intimate ways. I share to encourage you to hear God’s voice intimately. I also share because I believe we see our own stories in between the lines of another’s story.