Selah Springs: The Revelation

~ The following post finally sums up what God did in my heart as I was happily holed up in the Hill Country. I hope it is a lesson I never forget, and that it encourages you, as well. ~

So here we are at the end of our second full day at Selah Springs Ranch, and I’ve realized something…

I’ve got to cut down on my time at the computer when I’m at home.

Here’s what happens.

During the children’s naps, or after they’ve gone to bed or when they’re watching a movie, I sometimes (often) sit down just to mindlessly peruse facebook or Pinterest. I have no qualms about admitting this out loud. As the youths say, its how I roll, yo.

But most of the time, during this daily downtime when the rest of the house is sleeping, I truly and actually sit down at the computer to “work”…which, in my world, means to make important internet purchases (I can HEAR my husband guffawing from here), or to edit and organize photos, or to work on inspiring and world-changing blog posts (like the one where I looked like a beached whale on the Slip n’ Slide). And in the process of my work, when I’m waiting for something to load, or when I can’t think of what I want to write about, or when I absentmindedly wonder if I have any new notifications or e-mails, I consequently pull up a gazillion tabs, including Pinterest and facebook and my antique AOL account and my Anthropologie wishlist, and…I get irretrievably lost.

Sometimes I emerge from this coma-inducing Internet Neverland feeling grouchy and discontent, and my heart knows full well that I have poorly misused my time, but…more often than not, I enjoy the heck out of myself.

I love the internet.

I could spend days on it.

That said, here at Selah Springs, without this delightful hobby lingering enticingly in my home office 24/7, I am finding that I was sorely in need of a week-long internet detox…

if only for the purpose of realizing how much I needed to have an internet detox.

And the reasons have surprised me.

For it is not uncommon to hear people resolve to fast or withdraw from the computer, is it? They might realize that the internet has encroached upon their time with their families or has kept them from doing their chores, and they need to step away for a bit in order to reinstitute who is machine and who is master.

But that’s not really my issue (this time). Because, even though I am a huge fan of all of my favorite internet haunts, I usually rigorously guard my family time, and have even refrained from purchasing an iphone to keep the internet in our home office only. I rarely allow myself time on the computer when my kids are downstairs, and spend most of their naptime at least trying to do my aforementioned “work”, and that’s usually after I’ve completed (a few of) my daily chores. And so the problem I have been awakened to goes a little deeper than that and stung a little worse…

For I’ve been slapped upside the head by the following realization: Not only do facebook and mindless internet surfing potentially replace face-to-face time with the people in my life when we are in the same room together, it also replaces something when the people in my life are asleep or out of the house…

my thoughts of them.

It distracts me.

It exchanges the quietest and richest times of my day with dull and shallow entertainment.

In other words, during the most potentially meditative moments in my life, I am voluntarily allowing my heart and my thoughts to be pulled away from the ones I am called to love more than anyone or anything, and worse, including my Heavenly Father.

As I have been without my dearly loved imac this week and have lolled around the Ranch or even spent a day shopping with my girls in Fredericksburg, I have once again become acquainted with how long a day can be, full of opportunities to think and to pray and to love. At home, I most usually fill those empty spaces up with my computer. A quiet moment comes and I slip into the office and check for facebook notifications. Or  the kids run upstairs to play and I sit down for “just a second” to add a book I’ve been meaning to buy to my Amazon shopping cart. Or I get lost in the midst of my “work” like I mentioned above. But here, at Selah Springs Ranch, I am finding that those empty spaces are much better filled, and completely – and I mean, completely – change the way I relate to others…

I find myself missing my husband more often and wishing to cuddle up next to him on the couch (but no funny stuff, Mister)…

or thinking intently about my role as a wife and mother and asking for grace to live like Christ…

or communing with God as I drink in the beautiful world He made for us…

or thinking about my kids and cherishing their sweet faces and mannerisms…

or thanking God for my entire family and praying for their well-being…

Thus, by the time the empty space is over and we are together again, my thoughts are not wrapped up in some distant world. They are focused. In the quiet of the day, I have been meeting with God and thinking of and longing for my family, and I am ready to show them my love when we are once more reunited.

The result?

I reach over and rub my husband’s back more often when we’re sitting beside one another.

I am happy and prepared to sit and read a book to my kids when they ask.

I can more easily discern what is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable (Philippians 4:8) from what is fleeting and self-absorbed and unedifying.

I have patience stored back up when the quiet moment is over and welcome my children back downstairs with open arms rather than hopping up with an addled brain and foggy intentions…

Its amazing what God can do in your heart when you allow yourself to be talked to.

And so, really, my “revelation” was a simple one: what I had at Selah Springs – the focus, the intentionality, the gratitude…I want that every day.

And so from now on, I’ll be more closely monitering my extracurricular computer activity, not just when the kids are awake, but when they are sleeping. And when I am blogging or writing, I will not open extra tabs. And I will still enjoy facebook as much as ever, but once a day, in one sitting.

The rest of the time, I want to use my brain and resourcefully use the peace that God allows me each day to mindfully – rather than mindlessly – recharge and reset.

I’ve been operating for years under the assumption that naptime was ME-time. But the conviction of the sweet Spirit of God has shown me this week…

Me-time (without serious moderation) is sinking sand. But living for others – even when they are asleep – is some kind of beautiful and makes the heart much, much happier when naptime is over.

~

Coming up tomorrow ~ the FINAL Selah Springs installment! 

3 thoughts on “Selah Springs: The Revelation

  1. I love this post most! I have been talking to Ben about how “blue” I have been feeling lately and it all comes back to the internet. I haven’t been reading scripture, praying, meditating, cleaning, even smiling (except when on the “humor” section of pinterest) because I feel so rushed to get as much “fun” out of naptime as I can, then when Grey wakes up, I am frazzled that I didn’t accomplish anything while I was free. It is a very downward spiral. So after I look for a new washing machine on Craigslist, I am off for the day…and if I get to feeling the need tomorrow, I will come pick persimmons, deal? 🙂

    • Oh, DEAL!! I love your heart and your teachable spirit. If I see you outside my window tomorrow, I might just join you! (after I lock Betsie up into the wagon, of course).

  2. I’m a 41 year old wife, mother of three, teacher (of 109 middle schoolers), Sunday school teachers, and stay busy pretty much most of the time. I don’t read too many blogs (only yours and one other friend’s). I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I admire your commitment to your family and God’s role for you. I have to have a good 15 (or more) years on you, but you have impressed me since I read the blog that made you “famous” (the one about Magic Mike). You have such a precious spirit (God’s Holy Spirit living in you), a great sense of humor, and a practical outlook on life. I am humbled by this post, and I hope to make more of my “down” time to spend time with God, studying what He has in mind for me. Keep on blogging, sweet one.
    Jamie

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