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Scrolling through life – Are we living distracted by screens or focused on life?

Living distracted by screens?

I sat behind this family. A pre-teenish aged girl, head down except for brief moments coming up for air, or rather, back into real life. Head back down.

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I struggled to disengage following her phone habits. Her distraction from life around us was totally distracting me. The thing is, this is the norm for many teens today. But let’s be fair. The struggle is real for us adults as well.

When she engaged in real life, she complained to her parents about being bored. When she was bored, she picked up her phone.

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She bounced from one social media platform to the next.

This isn’t unique to this girl. It’s all of us. It’s me too.

How often do I reach for my phone out of boredom, looking for that next hit of entertainment or distraction?

How often do I reach for my phone for the high of escape?

When I don’t feel like listening to one more complaint or argument, I pick it up.

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When I feel awkward waiting for a friend to meet me, I pick it up.

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We watched an entire family sitting at a table at a restaurant never looking up until the food arrived. 2 parents, 4 kids – scrolling through life. Missing the life of each other right before their eyes.

What stories went untold? What laughs never broke free? What impact or influence never passed one to another?

Real life vs fake offering

So much life missed trying to stay up on the fake life a screen offers.

We are missing the best and accepting the counterfeit.

This is nothing new.

‘When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”’

Exodus 32:1

They were tired of waiting, so they reached for the counterfeit.

They chose fake over real. They chose immediate gratification over lifelong satisfaction.

The very next verse shocks me.

‘Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’

Exodus 32:2-5

Aaron so quickly went along with the people and not only joined the masses but led them in their rebellious desires.

We do too.

We know we are trading real life, real connection for the false idol. Yet, we follow. We accept what never satisfies.

As we scroll through life, we are indulging our flesh. We indulge our desire to be entertained. We’ve created our modern day golden calf. We worship at the altar of our screens.

We have a choice to make.

These screens we scroll through will never give us what we truly crave. It’s like eating a diet of candy. Over time we will become sick.

I believe at various times God brings us enlightenment and we have a choice in what to do. We can continue down a path or make corrections.

When we find our scroll is invading our life, maybe a break is what is needed.  A fast in order to refocus our attention and reclaim the moments we’ve been missing.

Focused on Life?

There have been moments that happened I’ve looked back on and thought, “If I’d been buried in a screen, I would’ve miss that completely.” At the same time, I know for a fact I’ve missed countless moments as I’ve lived distracted by the scroll of my phone. I’ll never know what I missed. But I have a choice in each moment to claim it or let it pass.

I want to live a life full of beautiful moments. I want to have relationships that can stand the test of time and life. I want to create memories we can talk about around the table in 20 years.

Living an intentional life means looking ahead at what we desire and choosing today the steps we need to take in order to arrive.

It’s looking ahead and deciding what we want our Thanksgiving table in 20 years to look like and realizing it takes action today to achieve that. Meaningful relationships and moments take nurturing.

Intentional living is living life on purpose rather than scrolling through life mindlessly.

What are we nurturing today?

If you’ve followed along here for some time you know I’m passionate about guarding our families from screen intrusions. When I started writing online my goal was to encourage others to live an intentional life. Ironically, this was before screens were at play. It didn’t take long for screens to begin to dominate in homes and I’m determined to keep preaching this message.

The first post I wrote on this subject circulated into millions of homes. I received messages from parents who felt alone in their desire to raise children who could live with heads up and eyes ahead focused on life. They realized they aren’t alone. If you’d like to read that post you can find it here A Letter to My Sons – The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics.

You can can find other posts I’ve written on this topic by clicking here.

And if you aren’t subscribed to receive posts via email, click here. I rarely post more than once a week and promise never to spam you. I count it a privilege to encourage and inspire you to live an intentional life.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so fearful to share this with you, so here goes!

Although I belong to a gym, I’m not a big gym person. I do one thing at this gym. Kickboxing. Sometimes I branch out and take a strength class. But mostly, I take a class from my favorite instructor.

After a couple of busy weeks out of the gym, I made it back to kickboxing. The instructor stopped by to chat as she made her way to refill her water prior to starting class. I removed my jacket, revealing my sleeveless arms,  and her eyes grew wide as she gave a tiny gasp pointing to my biceps.

I thought in that brief moment, “Well. They aren’t enormous, but I am pretty proud of the growth of these old biceps.” I had increased my weights by a mere couple of pounds.

As I met her gasp with my proud nod and a slight flexing of these scrawny biceps, she said, “Oh my goodness! Your arms!”

I looked down thinking they must have grown much larger than I remembered. As I looked at my biceps, I instantly realized what had her so astounded. My almost 3 week old, sunburn turned tan which left a distinct farmer’s tan right across my bicep area.

The immediate embarrassment set in. I just played right along like I knew what she was talking about the entire time. I know you’ve been there too. Insert laughing emoji.

Oh embarrassment. Some moments are much more embarrassing than others. But none feel particularly good at the moment.

I rarely post two days in a row, but today I felt compelled to write to you. Mostly because God is showing me how my fear is holding me back, and I need to push straight through it.

What am I fearing? Embarrassment! Failure. All of it. I may fail right before your very eyes. But if I never try, I automatically fail.

I have a dream in my heart, and I’m following it.

So I’m just going to blurt it right here at you.

I’ve started a business. So now that I’ve actually told you, there is no going back. Here goes my story and my why. I’m fighting the temptation to fire hose you with everything I’m holding in. Sometimes my passion is a bit off-putting.

WHY?

I write to inspire and encourage your journey of life. My desire is to cheer you on as you intentionally step day by day with God. The same is true with my shop. My goal is to inspire families to be spiritually intentional in every nook and cranny of their life and home.

We live in a culture that is saturated with messages we don’t want penetrating and affecting our families. Therefore, we must take extra measures to saturate our homes and our lives with Truth.

I’ve found that what I place before my children’s eyes, over time, becomes ingrained in them.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol[a] on your forehead.[b] 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

In our home we take this instruction seriously.

Romans 12:2
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

I wrote a post titled Total Immersion is the Way to Bathe Our Kids in Truth. The culture we are raising our kids in is set to devour them. We have to be on the offense in our parenting. Truth must be before them always.

There are fringe spots in your home you need to claim as spiritual training grounds. That is why I’m starting a product based business full of inspirational items to have before your eyes everywhere you turn.

For today I have scripture pillowcases, inspirational tea towels, and an audio devotion. But down the road, my vision is much bigger. In fact, my favorite product is still in the design stage.

I have so many ideas in my head. But today I’m staying here where I am. The pillowcases are my very favorite. I’m sharing my story of these treasures tomorrow. I may set a record for the most posts in a week. Ever. But don’t unsubscribe. This is highly unusual for me. And my sister’s here next week, so you won’t hear a peep from me for about 9 days!

My shop is right here on my blog. It has an incredibly unique name. Renee Robinson Shop 🙂

Check it out.

 

audio devotional

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How Not To Waste A Life

 

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I thumbed through my clothes twice, both times finding nothing suitable to wear. I began a third time and stopped at a khaki skirt. It’s nothing fancy, in fact, it’s quite old, but I rarely wear it. I save it for “special” days. I wondered why I always save my favorites for later. Sometimes later never comes. Some years that skirt never actually gets worn. Although I had no special plans, I wore the skirt. Sometimes living in the moment means wearing your best skirt for no good reason. Sometimes living in the moment means not saving anything for later.

I’ve decided saving is overrated.

The boys and I sipped breakfast smoothies chatting about summer. No two summers have ever held the same flow, this one is no exception. Yet, they all have one thing in common. Each summer feels it’s the best summer of my life. Jacob smirked as I reminded him of this. “Mom, you say that every year.”

The summer doesn’t feel it’s the best because my circumstances are better than any other year. In fact, this summer holds some very difficult challenges and incredibly hard moments. It’s more about my perspective of life rather than what life is serving.

“Well, it’s true. I’m not sure why.” But I do know what makes this one feel different in its own unique way. I stopped saving. Stopped saving moments for later.

I’m living my life fully spent. I’m not saving an ounce for the future because I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Each day I’m falling into bed exhausted with nothing left to give, yet sleeping with complete peace knowing I’m exerting every ounce exactly where He has me right now.

It’s a different kind of exhaustion, the kind that comes not from overcommitting or trying to do everything placed before me. It’s the kind of exhaustion from living fully right here.

I’m trading in being a saver of life so I can savor life.

Why work hard at life to save it all for later? What if later is drastically different from today?

I tell my boys all the time, whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Whatever is worth doing is worth pouring your entire being into, giving it your absolute all. Do everything as if unto the Lord. I think it applies to life in general as well.

Life worth doing is worth doing well. Doing life well might mean spending every ounce of life we have every single day, not saving any for another day. Doing life well might mean pouring out life and asking God to refill us for the next day. Telling God we are going to spend it all today because we know He is the giver of life and we trust in Him to replenish our strength fresh for tomorrow.

For me, I’ve discovered there are 5 keys to not wasting my life. For me, if I don’t spend my life, I wonder if it might look wasted one day? Maybe spending it fully every day is the key to making sure none goes to waste.

5 ways I’m learning to spend my life:

  1. Get out of bed and move with intention and a plan to live. My boys have perfected the art of sleeping late this summer. By the time they wake up, I’ve been up hours and am fully charged and ready to hit the day. Jacob and I have completely different wake up styles. My eyes open, I hop out of bed, and my feet hit the floor. He opens his eyes, lays for a good looooong while, and then finally gets up. The longer he takes to get out of bed, the slower he moves about his day, and with much less drive. Now, if he knows the day’s plan, he wakes up with a purpose. Feet hit the floor, he moves with a sense of direction, he starts getting stuff done. This always affects his attitude and his mood. I began to realize how this plays into my everyday life. When I’m not intentionally thinking about spending my life well, life simply happens. When I decide that I will encounter all parts of my day with a purpose, I engage fully and with purpose. There is deeper satisfaction at the end of the day. I don’t have to have all the details of my day lined up, I just need to set my heart and attitude right so that I engage moment by moment with the mindset that all life is purposeful.
  2. Keep my eyes open all day long, keep God at the forefront of my thoughts. My eyes can be opened, yet I can fail to see anything set before me. I see a drastic difference in my daily life on the days I decide when my feet hit the floor to keep my eyes open and alert to God at work all day. Every teeny, tiny detail. When we open our eyes and begin to hunt for Him, life overwhelms us in the sweetest of ways. Jacob and I took a long bike ride together last week. It was scorching hot, but we were doing our best to chat it up and distract ourselves from the heat. Before we realized it, we were riding our bikes through a sprinkler that offered a quick, surprising soak. Jacob commented how that was perfect timing and just what he needed right then. I smiled knowing that there are no coincidences. God is so involved in the smallest of details, so delights in delighting and surprising us, so wants us to delight back in HIm. I realized then that when I’m looking with eyes searching for how God is moving and speaking to me in every moment, life feels rich with purpose, life feels personal and intimate, life is lived well when we are living in constant search for Him.
  3. Live on sensory overload. A life not wasted uses all senses all the time. Summer is for experiencing through all our senses. It’s for recalling memories of our own childhood through smells and sounds, for recreating those for our children. For storing away memories that our senses will pull back out for us again and again. Living life all senses awake is entering into a moment and deciding it will take up a permanent residence in our soul. It will leave its mark.
  4. Giving all we have to give. I’m notorious for saying yes, but later to life. Someone will ask me to do something, and I will put it on my later radar. Sometimes it happens, but sometimes life gets in the way and it won’t happen. This summer I’m doing less procrastinating of life and experiences and more saying yes, right now, why not, I’ll give it all I have until there’s nothing left because I know the One who will replenish me.
  5. Live in real life, real time. This summer I’ve put away distractions. I am much more disconnected online and much more connected in real time. I’ve intentionally decided to pay more attention to the lives right in front of me rather than the highlights of other’s lives around me. This means little social media for me. Less news, less articles, less anything on my computer. Less writing (which I miss, but a season will arrive when I can pick it back up again). When I’m on my phone or on my computer, time seems to be vacuumed right up from my life. When I put away all online distractions, it’s amazing how my senses come alive, how my mind clears up, how my vision is crisp. I’m motivated to do life well, right here, right now.

And the biggest thing I’ve realized is that not wasting life daily looks different for everyone. Not wasting life, fully spending life, will not look the same for you as for anyone else. For me to spend everything I have on my life today might look very simple compared to how someone else will spend their life today. Doesn’t make either one right or better. It’s an awakening to where God has you this very day, and living it with all you have, spending every ounce of energy on each moment He brings your way as you trust He will restore your strength and soul each and every day.

So today I start anew as I have each day this summer. I will say yes more than no. I will trade saving life for savoring life. I will spend my life fully today and ask Him to restore me tomorrow.

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Intentional Living

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I saw the shadowy figure standing over me and shot straight up, gasping for air.  “Mom, it’s just me.”

“Gosh, you scared me to death.  I’m sorry.”  My mind tried its best to process what was going on.  The clock showed 3:30am.  My senses were slow to come awake.  He was wide awake, talking at a pace that made following the details difficult.  The fear in his voice begged me to awaken quicker.

“Mom, please.  I had the worst dream of my life.  It felt so real.  It was an angel type creature.  He was standing in front of me and told me that I would die and go to Heaven on November 14th.”

“Oh, honey.  I’m so sorry.  It was just a dream.”  I guided him down the hall towards his room.  The whites of his eyes glowing in the deep black of the hallway.  His mind and mouth raced as he relayed every tiny detail.

“I just want November 14th to hurry up and get here so I can quit worrying about if I will really die that day.”

The next morning he was quiet, contemplative.  I knew he was thinking of the dream. He thinks deeply, life tends to worry him more than it should.

Attempting to lighten his mood, Steve told him, “Well, I guess live every day like it’s November 14th.  Like it’s your last.”

With a little grin, he shrugged his shoulders, “I guess.”

What does a New Year mean to you?  For some it’s a little like awakening from a bad dream with the sudden relieving realization that it’s a new day.  And you are alive.

What would this year look like if we lived every day like it was our last?  I imagine it would be the epitome of intentional living.  Moments seasoned with grace, compassion, love, and mercy. Not reckless abandon or checking off a bucket list.  Would I move slower through my moments because I don’t want them to end?  Would I savor the flavors of each moment I encountered? Would I hug tighter?  Would I laugh harder?  Would I look deeply into the eyes of the ones I love?  What would it look like?

I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution maker.  I am a big goal maker though.  I’m always evaluating my goal progress and making adjustments where needed.  The New Year is just another day to evaluate life and make course adjustments.  I tend to do this frequently.  Always evaluating, processing, planning, figuring things out.

This year our family has a common goal.  We are praying for more kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience within the walls of our home, with the ones closest to us the Lord has graciously given us.  We desire to treat each other better than we treat the world.  In the everyday stresses of life, it’s the ones we love the most we tend to hurt with the words that slip out too quickly.

The moments of life are precious and fleeting.  Our prayer is to take intentional living to another level.  We are moving beyond living in the moment – though we want more of that too.  We want to live in the moment and soak in every ounce.  And then give it all back out.  Soak it in to give it back.

It’s not just living in the moment, for the moment.  It’s BEING the moment.  It’s living in the moments in order to be the moments.  It’s savoring every second so we can pour it back out. Into the ones we treasure most.  It’s taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on the ones we love.

It’s being the blessing.  Because we are blessed.