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Reclaiming peace by silencing the clamoring world

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.

 

 

Sadness, Social Media, and Social Distancing

We all have a different reality from which we view and experience life. The Lord has given each of us individual grace to a walk through our own personal reality. I don’t have the grace for your reality. You don’t have the grace for mine. But should the Lord merge our realities, we can rest assured we’d each have the grace necessary to manage and rise above the challenge.

One of my boys expressed frustration over a challenge he faced. He brushed it aside as he talked, saying, “I know it doesn’t compare to how hard others have it.” Is that how we process our hard? In the light of another’s?

I assured him that his feelings matter. We need not compare them to someone else’s situation to determine if it’s ok to feel a certain way.

But I get it. I’m sad when I interact with social media these days. We are so quick to dismiss and shame another’s feelings. We also have little patience and grace for the journey we are each on. At the first post where we may express where we are currently, we are blasted by someone with an alternate perspective. As a people we are taking it as our full time job to make sure the rest of the world sees the situation the same as we do. And if they don’t, well we distance ourselves in our heart from them.

I’ve had people respond to things I’ve posted telling me they don’t like my wording and they wish I would change it so it aligned with their thoughts and perspectives. I find that so interesting. Are we not allowed to disagree anymore? Are we not allowed to view the same situation in complete opposition yet still maintain unity? I fear not.

I opened my prayer journal this morning and poured out my sadness to God. Currently, our world is in a situation many of us have never faced. COVID-19 is new and unknown, which brings fear. Fear causes reactions that aren’t our normal.

As I’ve watched this situation develop, my thoughts have developed, transitioned, even changed. This is human. This is natural. But what is happening on social media doesn’t show the full humanity of us as people or this situation. And that leaves me sad.

Just as we each live in our own reality, with our own personal grace from God, we each process life differently.

In the face of great anxiety, humor is a lifeline for some. For others, humor in the face of danger is offensive. I see people post in humor and then others follow behind telling them to take it seriously. I’m not a humor person so initially I felt it was a lack of respect. I’ve changed my opinion. It’s not a lack of respect as much as their way to cope. But in a world where we can’t differ anymore, this becomes harder and harder.

In the face of fear, some take to flight, some take to fight. Some run away and horde. Others take quick action and stand and serve.

In the face of fear, some become extremely sensitive and tender to those around them. Others become cynical.

It’s time to confess and repent of our pride and strong opinions. I’m guilty. I confess. I repent. My I have a heart of compassion stronger than the opinions I hold.

At the same time may we be gentle with our own souls today. The fear is real. The sadness is real. God is more real. We can trust Him.

For the care of my soul today, I poured out my heart to God. I expressed my deep sadness to Him. He cares about what we care about. He cares about our sadness. I decided I wouldn’t judge my sadness in the light of another’s sadness. I wouldn’t compare this trial in our world in the light of WWII or a time in history I didn’t experience or have the grace to walk through.

I’m a human today, living in the real fear and reality of today. I will take those to the cross and hand them to my Savior, trusting He will carry me close to His heart.

Today I told God I’m sad.

I’m sad I won’t see my son finish out his basketball season. I won’t get to hug our teammates and high five a fantastic season.

I’m sad many of us will fail to see the completion of what we’ve worked so hard for.

I’m sad for the beginning that will fail to start. Sad for full seasons that will be skipped.

I’m sad for seniors who will miss so much.

I’m sad for leaders making decisions that hold a weight of enormous impact.

I’m sad for our economy and what lies ahead.

I’m sad for working parents struggling to care for their kids at home and maintain their jobs.

I’m sad for parents who don’t want to homeschool, thrown into a world so foreign.

I’m sad for the judgement cast back and forth on each other based on how we each are processing and handling our fears and realities.

I’m sad for the ones who live with this type of fear all the time not just in an outbreak.

I’m sad our country simply can’t unite, even in sickness and fear.

I’m sad we can’t be physically close to people.

I’m sad we can’t gather together and worship live.

I’m sad we don’t know how long this will last.

I’m sad. Naming my sadness helps.

I don’t need to be understood by others because God understands me full well. And I think that is where many of us are struggling right now. We are reaching out to social media to hold us, to tell us it’s going to be ok. We are reaching out to social media to validate our opinions, positions, and feelings.

It can’t. It won’t. But God desires to be the One to fill our needs, to comfort, to care, to carry us. He hands out grace freely. Grace isn’t only a word used for salvation. Grace is needed to live this life daily, moment by moment.

We are all walking in unknown territory as our nation decides how to fight COVID-19. We are urged to exercise social distancing. Because of that we are in close quarters with our family members and many are excited about a free schedule and more connected time. But then some have no family members. This is extremely hard on them. If we could simply look from alternate views, I believe our empathy would grow.

What is stifling my own empathy is social media. I find my heart harden and cynicism grow. I can’t have that. When I see this happen, I know a social media break is in order. Sometimes I take a one day break, sometimes a one week, and sometimes even longer.

Maybe if social media is what you are struggling with most, a new definition to social distancing can take shape. Maybe social distancing includes a social media distance for a time. So we can process our own emotions without the sway and judgement of others or even our own selves.

I think we can all agree on one thing, we each care about some aspect of this situation, and we are scared. We may be scared about different things, but we are all scared. I pray we can be easy with our feelings, allow them to grow and change as they will, and love others well while they do the same.

We are all in it together. May God be glorified. May we resist fear and hold firm to Christ in the days ahead.

 

 

 

How To Stop Facebook From Deciding What You Want To See – My Facebook Breakup

Cut the Facebook cord

When you get on Facebook, how do feel after you leave? Do you feel uplifted? Inspired? Encouraged? Happy? Satisfied?

Many of us express feeling anxious, stressed, jealous, discontent, or frustrated after our social media time. Studies are revealing the level of addiction to social media is pretty startling. We reach for our phones hundreds of times a day to scroll through social media.

Many of us have experienced how much happier we are when we’ve taken a social media break, but we feel we will miss out if we aren’t there hanging out.

At the same time, we are finding great frustration with Facebook these days (and Instagram is close behind). Facebook is deciding for us what they will show in our feeds. They don’t really care what I’ve chosen to like and follow. They feed me what they want to feed me. I’m pretty fed up with their feed quite honestly.

So, I’m breaking up with Facebook. I’m cutting the cord.

I’ve found that if I struggle to let go of something, it’s a strong indicator I must let it go. If I feel I can’t live without it, it has a power over me that isn’t healthy for my soul. It’s become an idol.

We’ve given control to Facebook, now it’s time to take it back. God has been telling me to go on the offense and gain back ground from the enemy for quite some time now. I believe this aligns with what He is showing me. I think you will be able to relate to what I will share even if you don’t write online.

We all want the choice of what we see. And we all know what Facebook is doing. So let’s stop letting them.

If you decide not to read this post, I do want you to scroll to the very end so we can be sure to stay in touch!

Steve and I, followed by a large group of people, were driving to the interstate. As we approached the interstate we saw roadblock and detour signs. We turned to follow the detour. We got to the detour only to find another roadblock sign. We looked at each other and wondered aloud what we should do. I found the in charge road construction man sitting in a roadside trailer office.

I asked how we were to get to the interstate if both access points were blocked. He shrugged his shoulders saying no one knew and they were trying to figure it out.

Everyone in my group seemed to accept his answer. In fact they pulled out camping chairs and camped out. AT THE ROADBLOCK.

Well, I refused to sit at a roadblock. It was crazy. There had to be another way, and I refused to settle into the roadblocks like everyone else.

I began telling everyone we shouldn’t settle into this roadblock place. We needed to be ready to get up and go at a moment’s notice.

Suddenly, it hit me. It seemed so obvious that I didn’t understand why no one else had voiced the thought.

Why don’t we simply go back the way we came? I mean it might take longer, but we’d get there for sure.

Then I woke up.

It was the kind of wake up where my mind said, “No, no, no, no, no. Take me back to the dream.”

I know why I desperately wanted back in that dream. Because it was God speaking to me through it.

God has given me many dreams. Not frequently, but enough that when I awake from one, I want nothing more than more of it. So I ask Him all the time to speak to me.

We all hit roadblocks in life. Currently I’m facing a couple, but one specifically is Facebook.

Facebook has completely and totally stopped serving my posts. On my author Facebook page I have almost 4,000 likes and followers combined. Yet, when I share a post to Facebook, they serve it to an average of about 20-30 people. Yes, you read that right. My Facebook has gone silent.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I never wanted to be on Facebook. I knew it would prevent me from being as intentional with my children as I wanted to be. I knew it would steal my time and create in my heart thoughts and feelings that don’t belong. But I was a blogger and it was the way everyone else was going. So I jumped in too.

About a year and a half ago I began asking God for a way out of Facebook. I felt almost an obligation to be there as a voice of encouragement, inspiration, and sharer of God’s goodness. There was so much yuck on it.

My soul hasn’t handled it well. I’m sensitive and tender. Not easily offended interestingly enough. But issues weigh heavy on my heart. I get annoyed at “friends’. I’ve been hurt by “friends”. I’m just being honest with you.

In 2016 I wrote Breaking My Phone Addiction and Experiencing Freedom. When I’ve taken social media fasts, it’s felt so good I never wanted back on. But I never felt the Lord releasing me from using my gifts in that space.

Until recently.

I’m on Facebook, yet no one hears me. So I began praying, “God speak to me. Show me clearly what I should do and where I should share. Show me what to do about this Facebook thing.” I actually asked Him to speak to me in a dream simply because He gets my attention and I’m on alert for His confirmation.

He always confirms first in His Word.

Before this dream God brought to mind Daniel 10:13.

“But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.”

There was a roadblock. That roadblock required the powers of Heaven to clear the path.

Is there a roadblock in your life that needs the powers of Heaven called down? What is your first instinct when you hit a roadblock? Where is God leading you toward greater surrender and leaning into His light to lead you out?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”
 Matthew 24:44
Thinking on my dream these verses came to mind.
I continued praying for wisdom, answers, and guidance. God gave it so precisely that I almost dropped my phone when I saw it in my inbox. The title read Beating Facebook’s Algorithm and Being Your Own Curator.
Challies writes:
“I tend to think the future lies in the past, in a brilliant little technology called RSS. Essentially it works like this: Almost every web site generates what is called an RSS feed—a little file that contains the site’s most recent content. It’s kind of like a web site, but for computers to read, not people. You can use an app or site known as an RSS reader to subscribe to that content on your behalf. When you do that, it will “translate” it to an understandable format, and present it to you. The job of an RSS reader is not to curate the content, but simply to provide it to you in chronological order. You get to be your own curator by choosing what you will add in the first place.”
That’s it! The future lies in the past. God has been telling me to remember lately. In my dream I had the obvious revelation to go back the way we came.
I started blogging in 2008. It’s my 10 year anniversary writing on the internet. Cue the streamers and party horns. A lot has changed in the blogging world.
God is telling me not to settle in at the roadblock. He’s telling me to go back the way I started. You know how I started blogging? When I fell in love with reading blogs. I loved stories. I loved when the stories reached the reflection point and I could find my own story nestled in the author’s story.
You know how I read these blogs? RSS Reader. That is how I controlled what I saw without being on social media. I read my blogs at night after the kids went to bed. I emailed the ones that touched me to specific people the Lord led me to share with.
I’m leaving Facebook. I’m living my life ready to hear that trumpet at any moment. And until the Lord calls me home, my desire is to inspire and encourage you to walk faithfully with your Savior.

2 ways you can be sure to receive my posts.

  1. Subscribe via email. I highly recommend this. It arrives to your inbox and you read when it suits you.
  2. RSS feeder/reader. I found Feedly incredibly user-friendly. I actually love it. I searched my favorite blogs and subscribed to their feeds. It’s as simple as adding  /feed to the end of the web address.
You end up with your own personal feed of everything you actually want to see! No one decides for you if you see that post or not. If you get sick of a particular feed, just delete it. No biggie.
You can subscribe to the feeds on the sites you love with your computer or with your smart phone. I downloaded the Feedly app on my phone. Then I searched for the sites I really enjoy. In the search box you type the web address with no spaces adding /feed to the end. It will bring up the site feed and you click the plus sign to add it. You can customize if you want pictures or no pictures, newest first or most popular. Basically, you create the reading experience you desire. And you control what you choose to read.

If you don’t use your phone, you can subscribe to feeds a few ways.

  1. Just type in the address bar the web address followed by /feed. It will bring up the feed for that site and a box at the top of your screen that says “Subscribe to this feed using Live Bookmarks. Always use Live Bookmarks to subscribe to feeds.”
  2. Visit Feedly.com or another free RSS Reader site (there are plenty). Sign up and simply use their site for creating your own reading experience.
I think Tim Challies is right. I think the way of the future is in the past.
It’s time to simplify and declutter. Feedly is helping me do that.
Goodbye for now, Facebook. I may be back one day, but for now, I’m taking back control of what I see and I’m breaking the control social media has over me.
I’ve prayerfully created a resource for you that will give your soul a much needed break from this fast-paced, screen-driven world. Our souls long for us to tenderly care for them. Take a 14 day journey with me through Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve created it in such a way that you will receive 14 emails, one per day. Each day will include an audio and a print link. You can simply hit play and allow yourself to relax and listen. Or you can read if you aren’t an audio lover.

I’ve heard from many Illuminate listeners that it’s become their favorite part of the day. It’s a break from the race and a redirect to the One who desires to walk with us intimately.

Purchase your copy today. And then buy a copy for a friend.

If you have been blessed by Illuminate, would you kindly share with your friends and family?

audio devotional