Just Another Fun Day at the Park

This past Friday night I took my four youngest kids to the park. We had to take my teenage daughter to work for her evening shift, so we dropped her off and then picked up some McDonalds and went over to Fountain City Park.

We hadn’t been to this park in quite a while as it’s in a different part of town and I rarely venture that way. As we walked into the park and I was looking for a table where we could eat, there didn’t seem to be too many people around. We walked down a little path and suddenly there were people. Two couples and a guy by himself, they were all standing within fifteen feet of each other. Just standing there, every single one of them staring at their smart phones intently and pressing the screens frantically as if they were playing some exciting action game. It kind of took me by surprise. Like, am I interrupting some kind of group therapy where everyone stands around and texts each other? None of them seemed to have any children with them (which is my primary reason for visiting parks). They had just come to the park (For exercise? Fresh air? A change of scenery?) so they could stand in the great outdoors and stare intently at their phone.

Ok. That’s weird.

I edged around the group of phone zombies and we settled at a picnic table right next to a little man-made wading creek. The kids were torn by two opposing treats. Eating McDonalds or playing in the creek. The creek finally won out and they left half their meal behind as they ran for the water. Everything was good. Cute kids frolicking in the water. Then, about two minutes later, the six year old runs up to me. I NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM!

Let me just tell you, this park has public restrooms, but they are on the opposite side of the park. It is too far away to leave children alone playing while you accompany someone to the bathroom, and they are too far away to just let a child go there by themselves.

Uh..No.. We can’t go to the bathroom. It’s too far away. (I cringed as I said this, I’m pretty sure it breaks some international treaty laws to deny a child access to the bathroom). She looked at me, thought about it for a minute, and then said, Ok, I can hold it for a while.

Alrighty then.

Five minutes later, the four year old ran up to me. I NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM! Ok. Fine. I give up. I grabbed my purse, yelled for all my kids to come cause we were going to the bathroom. I pointed in the direction we were heading and the eight and six year old took off at a full run. The four year old was about 20 feet behind them and then came me and about twenty feet behind me was the two year old. He had decided that he wanted to climb over a rock, a stump, say hi to a butterfly, inspect the grass, and all the other things two year olds do when you are in a hurry. I was stuck in the middle, yelling for the girls to not get too far ahead, trying to encourage the two year old to hurry up.

Too late, the three kids ahead of me disappeared into an opening that lead to the bathrooms. WAIT! Don’t go so far ahead!…They were obviously out of ear shot. I urged the two year old on and started walking faster. The two year old and I finally got to the doorway where they had disappeared. There was a Men’s Restroom Door propped open and I heard child voices inside. Oh no. Did my girls accidentally go into the Men’s Room?? I stood at the doorway, not wanting to cross that sacred threshold unless I absolutely had to. I scanned the room. No men in sight. Good. ARE YOU GUYS IN HERE?? My little boy piped up from the one stall in the bathroom, the stall door swinging wide open. Yeah, I’m here! Ok. My son is in the Mens’ Restroom. Not the girls. All is well, though I would have preferred he had gone to the Women’s Room as he is still little. I stood at the doorway waiting for him to finish, then his little voice piped up. Where’s the toilet paper? …There isn’t any toilet paper! I yanked open my purse and started looking for tissues. Wait! I’ve got some, I’ll bring it to you. Just a minute! I finally found the tissue and headed into the bathroom. Again, too late. Sound of flushing. He had skipped the toilet paper part of the routine. I peaked into the stall. Yep. I now had a mess to clean up.

Fortunately Mom is always prepared (except when she isn’t, and then it’s bad). Out came the wipes from the bottomless handbag. Clean up the mess. Wash hands. Quickly exit the Mens’ Room and go hunt down my girls. I could hear them before I even entered the Women’s Room. They were chattering away to each other as they washed their hands. The entire building is made of concrete block. That, combined with a vaulted ceiling and a concrete floor, made the whole room an echo chamber. My two little boys followed me into the restroom and instantly noticed the noise level was about one hundred percent MORE in this room. They started shrieking just so they could hear the sound bounce off the walls a million times. I told them to be quiet and stand by the wall while I used the bathroom. More shrieking. BE QUIET! Lots of muffled sounds, then more shrieking. Almost like yodelling. Of course, I usually ignore this kind of behavior. Making noise at the park isn’t going to hurt anything. But, a glimpse under the stalls showed that some other poor woman was having to share this restroom with my noisy brood. QUIET!! The older girls decided to be helpful and started shushing their brothers. Then they discovered that the shushing sound also echoed off the walls, and if they shushed to a rhymic beat it also had a fun feel to it. The two year old decided to practice his hooting skills. I was rendered helpless, stuck in a toilet stall, unable to back up my hissed commands of BE QUIET with any action.

Fortunately, I saw the shoes of the unknown woman leave her stall, and shortly after, heard the outer door close. We were alone. I came out. Glared at my children who were still making their own version of music. I washed my hands and then shooed them back towards the playground and the creek. Several minutes later we were all settled in, me at the picnic table, the kids splashing in the water again. The eight year old walks up to me. Uh Mom, when we were in the bathroom, I didn’t have to go, so I didn’t go. But, Now I gotta go to the bathroom.

Right.

Taking kids to the park is so relaxing.

 

Fat Fridays: Week 23 In Which I Climb Up On My Soapbox

I have been a bit at a loss at to what to write for this Friday. Since I’m trying to make an honest journal of this weight loss journey, I finally decided I would just have to stick to honesty. I promise that the following really does have to do with my weight loss journey!

 

I have always had a hard time when people make disparaging remarks about poor people. People on welfare. People on food stamps. People on government assistance. Homeless people. Everyone seems to know some lady on welfare who’s got a boatload of children and is just racking in the bucks, fancy phone, nails done perfectly, designer clothing. She is the person people always bring up when they are explaining why all this government assistance is actually just a big swindle. The poor people are living off our tax dollars and laughing behind our backs at our gullibility. For each one of you that has mentioned this woman before on your Face Book pages or blogs, or in conversation…What’s her name? Have you actually met this woman? Do you know her story? Or is she simply someone that is a friend of a friend of someone you met the other day who happened to mention knowing her. Maybe one of you actually does know her name, knows her story personally, and is disgusted at the way she has manipulated the system…but I’m going to guess that most of you don’t actually know this woman personally. I do not disagree with the notion that people take advantage of the system. It’s true. People are sinful and there is always going to be someone trying to get something for nothing. But these welfare systems are a lot more than those occasional individuals. It has been my experience that people who speak harshly against a group of people usually have no personal contact with that group and get all of their information second hand. It’s been my experience that when I get to know people personally, get to know their problems, their background, I have a lot more sympathy and compassion. So, today I want to share a story with you.

Over the last fifteen years we have had quite a few families and individuals that we have reached out to and tried to help. Many times we have had people living with us as they tried to get their feet under themselves. I’ve heard a lot of stories. I’ve gotten to know these people pretty well as we have done life together.  One woman in particular has been involved with our family for at least eight years now. She and her children have lived with our family on a couple different occasions. I haven’t seen a lot of her lately, as the last four years has been pretty stable for her. Then, about a month ago I got a call from her. She had been evicted. She was in the process of applying for government housing, but in the mean time she had nowhere else to go. Could I help?

I feel like middle class America does not understand how difficult it is to be poor. There is a pervading attitude that poor people just walk up to a building and are instantly handed food stamps, assistance with childcare, housing, and anything else their hearts desire. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, there is government assistance, but it is not easy to get. It involves getting to appointments and usually transportation is very difficult. It involves filling out endless amounts of paperwork and providing papers like birth certificates and social security cards. And when you live in a state of homelessness, or are trying to escape abusive situations, it’s really hard to keep track of those important documents. And getting them replaced is quite a hassle.

So why don’t they just go get a job?? I hear that a lot. Are they too proud to work at McDonalds? No. Actually, the people I have gotten to know are not too proud to work at McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant. But did you know that most of these fast food restaurants will not hire full time? It’s all part time. And it is usually not a set schedule, you get moved around to what suits them best, not what suits you best. So. Part time hours at low wages. Not enough to live on. Yet, they are mocked for getting on food stamps. I am curious as to how many middle class people could sustain their lifestyle at $9 an hour? And you are only given 20 to 24 hours a week. My friend would really like to get into a family assistance program that could help with childcare, but they require that she works at least 25 hours, and her job at a well-known pizza franchise will only give her up to 24 hours of work a week. So, she needs another job. But she has three children. Someone has to watch them. School just got out, she can’t afford any kind of childcare. What should she do?

People ask, why doesn’t she get a better job? Get some higher education? Surely there are programs that would help her? Well, she is a product of the foster care system herself. She was living in a group home and got pregnant at sixteen. Since then she has devoted herself to taking care of her child, now children. She didn’t finish high school. In order to get her GED she would need to do some serious studying. She has tried off and on to pursue that, but you see, she still has to live. She still has children to take care of and house and feed and clothe. She has no family support system (remember: foster care, group home). Her short marriage to the father of her children was a disaster and while she now has a long-term boyfriend, he comes with baggage of his own: child support that he pays from a past marriage, bills and debts he has to pay on.

Well, she should get into public housing. Ok. She’s trying. She had an interview, she’s waiting to hear. But you see, there’s this little problem of her past utilities bill. She still has a big bill that hasn’t been paid. She can’t turn on new utilities until she takes care of this past bill. She has asked around at many different agencies who say they will help with this kind of thing. But, she doesn’t fit into any of their narrow parameters of assistance that they can offer. Her recent eviction was the final step in a financial downhill slide that was connected to a necessary job change (with a pay cut) and unexpected events coming up with her children that made her miss work. This family’s tenuous existence quickly snowballed into a crisis which left them homeless.

And here we are. Her family of five moved into my bedroom about two and half weeks ago. My husband and I moved upstairs and are sleeping on the floor of our little boy’s bedroom (which they think is awesome, mom and dad right there, available all night long!). I hung a sheet around my bed so I can have at least the semblance of privacy.

It’s been good and bad. We’ve lived together before. She was a nanny for my kids one summer when I was bedridden with morning sickness. She helped potty train one of my boys. She has been the one person I have no embarrassment hiring to help me clean my house because she’s lived with me. She knows how messy things can get, and she’s always been willing to pitch in and help. Neither of us have any qualms about parenting each other’s children. The negative side is mostly just a lack of privacy. And the tightrope walk of setting boundaries and sticking to them. Trying to know when to be compassionate and when to be hard-nosed.

What does this have to do with Fat Fridays? Well, you all. My diet has gone on hold. Pause. I’m the juggler trying to keep a bunch of balls up in the air. This particular ball kind of knocked a bunch of the other ones out of pattern. I’m back to sticking to the basics. God, husband, children… everything else is shifting around. I’ve felt quite a bit of guilt and condemnation about it. Way to go Esther, soon as things get tough you just quit. Mess up. Fail. But, I’m trying to stop listening to that voice and be realistic. This is hard. I’ve taken on a lot and I’m not superwoman. I’m not giving up. I’m not going to wallow in my lack of discipline. I’m still fighting to get back on track. But, I’m going to give myself grace as I figure this out.

For those of you wondering why on earth we did this, it kind of falls into Love your neighbor as yourself… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you… Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me… And once upon a time, my husband and I were homeless and we knocked on a friend’s door and they let us in.

Goals: do some journaling and thinking…Why do I always revert to bad eating habits when life gets crazy stressful? Especially since bad eating habits just make it harder to deal with the stress????

See you all next week.

 

Boredom is a Wonderful Thing

I read somewhere that boredom is essential to fostering children’s imaginations. It’s only when they are bored that they are then forced to come up with their own entertainment. They are forced to start using their imaginations. This past Friday I turned off the wifi at our house. I had several reasons, but one of them was to help my children foster their imagination. No more instant entertainment from a screen. Use your imagination.

So, obviously, I have set myself up for some trouble. Have you ever had a houseful of children all using their imaginations? It’s a dangerous thing. Using your imagination means taking your helium balloon (leftover from the graduation party) and letting it loose into the ceiling fan. (I just wanted to see what would happen!). It means taking a crayon and writing out a Yes/No quiz on the wall by the toilet. (I suppose so that people who are using the bathroom will have something to do?) Today one child took a bunch of our socks and gloves and made sock animals for all his siblings. (Who needs socks, after all, it’s summer.) It also means taking the hose and spraying it all over a pile of dirt so you can have a good mud hole to play in.  And while we’re at it, lets take these old bricks and stack them on the porch in a rectangle-box shape, and then try and fill it up with water, our very own swimming pool!

Of course, my kids have been doing these things all along, with or without wifi, it just seems that they now have even more time to devote their energies to these great ideas, instead of it being a once-in-a-while activity. And it makes me happy. Yeah, we’re going through a bit of an adjustment phase while we work out a new schedule. There’s been some whining because we’re not turning on some shows…but, I’m already seeing good fruit. Like the whole herd of children all running outside in the evening to catch fireflies. My teens gathering around a laptop to watch an old dvd together. (Still a screen, but at least they are doing it in community!) Little children are coming up to me with books they want me to read them. My older kids are delving into new book series. Boredom is a wonderful thing.

I myself have been experiencing boredom a bit more. It’s led me to start reading my Bible in the morning again, play the piano more, start thinking about some cleaning projects I need to tackle, pray more, listen to my kids a bit better. Boredom seems to have a roundabout way of making life feel sharper, more in focus. And yes, we do have plenty of fun things planned for this summer, there’s just going to also be lots of downtime.

So, my summer blessing…May we plenty of time to be bored and may that boredom lead us to great feats of creativity!

 

Musical Evening

This evening (Saturday night) we had a “Musical Evening” at our house. It was a lot of fun. The idea behind the evening is that I want music to be accessible to everyone. I feel like there is a pervasive attitude in our culture that music is for the professionals. Our job as average people is to sit and listen to the professionals. And that’s just not true. Music is to be enjoyed by everyone. Every age and every ability level. And when we do get the chance to hear a professional, it’s just icing on the cake.

Almost all of my kids performed something, along with almost all the adults in the room. We had some self-made compositions on the piano. We had some kids do their own rendition of the Avenger’s Theme song, complete with drums. We heard the ukelele, the guitar, the piano. We had some really fun songs that made you laugh and some songs that had me crying. Patriotic, Religious, Humorous, Classical. Considering that we really were a small group, we did pretty good.

I am hoping to do more of these throughout the year. I want music to be an important part of my children’s home culture.

When I was a kid (pre-internet, pre-cell phones) music seemed to be everywhere. I went to a little elementary school in Eastern Kentucky, back in the hollows (pronounced hollers). My fifth grade teacher was an amazing musician. He kept a guitar in the corner of the classroom and when the class would start to get rowdy, he’d pull out his guitar and we would sing “Big Rock Candy Mountain”. I know we sang lots of songs, but that’s the one that stands out to me. In that community everyone played the guitar or the banjo or the fiddle. My dad would take his guitar with him when we would go to community events and a group of guys would always gather around and all start playing together. Blue grass. Folk songs. Gospel.

When I lived in Haiti we would sing for entertainment. Songs with different parts, harmonies twisting around each other. I remember my family learned a song that I believe was a translation of a piece by Bach. The words are, “Father in heaven, hear now your children, hear and bless us with your love, ever and ever, stronger yet and merciful, is your love for us, hallelujah amen.” It was a fairly simple two-part round song. I took such pleasure in singing it with my family.

I remember in Alaska hanging out with my friends in the summer. Some evenings we would gather around a piano and sing worship songs. Just for fun.

I remember going back to Haiti when I was 20. One of the missionary houses at a hospital compound, where I spent some time each week, had a piano. The piano was in a little nook close to the dining room where the nurses and doctors and other volunteers would eat their meals. I would bring my music and hide away in the nook,  playing to my heart’s content. I remember one dark evening, playing the entire Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. I knew that people were listening in the other room, but as long as they left me alone, I could relax and feel like I was just playing for myself.

I remember when I was still 20 and now in Chile living with my brother and his wife. I didn’t have a piano to play on. I felt desperate to be connected to music in some way. My sister-in-law had a music cd by Twila Paris. (I may be remembering this wrong, but I’m almost positive it was her.) The music was worshipful and had a couple songs I recognized. When I was home alone, I would put the cd on and sing along with it, full voice, full emotion, joining in the only way I could.

You know, there are more important things to teach my children than music. Jesus. Learning how to love people. Being kind. Responsible. But, music is like adding color to a black white photo. Putting sprinkles on the cupcake. Upgrading to first class on that long flight. It’s getting a vacation in Hawaii. Eating PapaJohns Pizza instead of Little Caesars. Life is just richer with music. I’m so thankful for my musical heritage that my parents passed down to me, and so thankful for a chance to share this amazing thing called music with my children. Thank you to all our friends and family who came out joined in!

 

Fat Fridays: Week 22 How To Encourage People in Their Weight Loss

Hey Everyone. How’s your week been? Mine was busy but it looks like we are finally slowing down. My kids had their last day of school today. I’ve got a thing at my house Saturday night and then my schedule is wide open. Now I just have to focus on keeping a house full of children busy all summer.

The past couple days I’ve been thinking about how encouraging my husband has been on my weight loss journey. It wasn’t always that way. At the beginning of our marriage I put on weight with my first pregnancy and he really didn’t know what to do. He made a lot of mistakes. But over the years we’ve talked a lot and he has evolved into this amazing man who makes me feel loved and beautiful no matter what weight I am. And I genuinely feel like he’s ready to support me in whatever efforts I make at improving my health.

I’ll give you some examples. I am not a super active person. In fact, that’s an understatement. I know I used to run around as a kid, but somewhere around puberty I discovered the joys of curling up on a couch with a good book, and that became my default activity. There is one thing I do enjoy though, which I’ve mentioned over the years to my husband. I love badminton. It is so fun! So satisfying when you can keep the birdie in the air. I also like ping pong. Something about smacking an object back and forth appeals to me. 🙂 So, over the years,  we have occasionally bought a little yard badminton set. Flimsy poles. Flimsy net. The kids destroy it within a couple weeks.

Well, this summer my husband went all out. He bought a professional net, set up a sturdy pole system, marked out a court with yellow rope, bought me some fancy rackets..We are all set for badminton. But even better, in the evenings when it’s cool, he comes and asks me if I want to play, and we go out and play badminton together. How cool is that? I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have a great passion for the game. But he has a passion for me. To see me happy, see me healthy.

We also figured out that I like canoeing. Our 20th anniversary is coming up in a couple months and he is currently building us a wood strip canoe for two so we can get out in nature together. He’s kind of handy that way.

He helps me keep on track with my diet too. We were at a party this past weekend. One of my kids ran up to me and handed me a cookie and then ran off. Well. I really wanted that cookie. It looked so good. I took a bite. Andy was watching me. (He wanted the cookie too.) Hey! That’s not on your diet! Give that to me! Now. let me make something clear. I hate being bossed around. He knows that. I handed him the cookie, because the truth is, I really did want to stick to my diet. Then he said, If you don’t want to stick to your diet, just let me know and I’ll leave you alone. And that’s what makes him great. Because I’ve done that before. I’ve said, listen, I’m sick of this diet, I just want an ice cream cone. And then he takes me out for ice cream.

I’m sure a lot of you have someone important in your life who is struggling with weight issues. I can tell you from experience that the best support for me has been my husband’s unconditional love for me. Knowing that he he is willing to take me like I am actually helps me feel empowered enough to want to make changes to become healthier.

Goals for this week: look into Chiropractic Neurology at the recommendation of my brother. Get out and play badminton. Write a meal plan for the next week, as our eating has gotten a little haphazard.

See you all next week!

 

Fifth Grade Graduation

Today I went and saw my eleven year old’s fifth grade graduation. He’s finished elementary school and will head off to middle school next fall. They had a nice little ceremony. About a hundred fifth graders were sitting on folding chairs in the middle of the gymnasium while all the parents crowded the bleachers and lined the walls when the bleachers filled up. Our community is all about celebrating children’s accomplishments. There were parents there with balloons and noise makers, ready to holler as loudly as possible when their child’s name was called. I was the only family member there to cheer on my son. I had taken my two little boys with me to the kindergarten graduation in the morning and that had been an exercise in frustration. They were not very interested in sitting quietly on the bench next to me. By the time I got them home, I was thinking Never Again. I knew I still had the afternoon graduation to go to, and so I was very relieved when my highschooler came home at lunchtime after getting released early. I set her up to babysit and went off to the next graduation of the day.

My son won an award from the librarian for being an enthusiastic and voracious reader. He also met his math and reading goals for the year. Yay! I watched my handsome boy, standing happily holding his certificates. A little embarrassed to be the center of attention, but obviously pleased with his accomplishments.

This week has been the week of awards and ceremonies for my children. They have all done well. Some of them shining like stars, their accomplishments impressive. Others did the equally impressive feat of just getting through a school year with the the knowledge that their teachers were pleased with them and happy that they had had them in their classroom.

As I sat there in the bleachers I was overwhelmed with pride in my children. How on earth did I get such amazing kids? I looked around the gymnasium and saw a room full of parents who all seemed to be having the same sentiments. I took a closer look at the other kids, sitting in their folding chairs. My son’s classmates. His friends. His peers. At the beginning of the ceremony, the music teacher had lead all the kids in singing “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman. (If you are not familiar with this song then you are obviously not plugged in to pop culture nor do you have teenagers in your house!) This is apparently a popular graduation song, as the kindergartners sang it also, and the high school dance team did an amazing dance to the same song at the high school graduation. The words are very inspirational..

 

Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me…”

Another line from the song says, “For we are glorious!”

 

Now, I don’t buy into the philosophy that children are these innocent creatures, mini-gods walking amongst us. I have ten kids. I am very aware that children are just mini-humans. Capable of anger, jealousy, pettiness, and all the other unlikable things. But, in children, it’s like it hasn’t completely taken root yet. There is so much potential. They are still at a place where you can correct their mistakes, direct them down better paths, teach them in hopes that they will avoid some of the big pits that you fell into yourself.

I sat and watched these little 5th graders. Each one an individual in their own right, marching bravely into the future, optimistic and full of energy. I joined the other parents as we clapped and cheered. Those are our kids! We believe in them! We are dedicated to doing everything we can to turn them into happy, productive adults. We are ready to show up and cheer them on, no matter how small the milestone. Yeah, my kids are amazing. And so are yours.

 

 

I’m Ready for a Redo

We have some houseguests at the moment. As my husband and I’s room is the closest thing we have to a guest room, we relocated upstairs with all our kids. This means that we had to start using the “kids bathroom” upstairs. Yikes. Since we moved downstairs, about two years ago, I rarely enter the upstairs bathroom. I bathe our two youngest in my bathroom downstairs, we moved toothbrushes downstairs so we could supervise tooth brushing. I have no reason to go into the upstairs bathroom. Every week or so, I appoint bathroom chores to my older children. You clean the toilet, you clean the sink, you get the trash etc. And every week I assign one of my older girls to clean the shower. I will, on occasion, inspect their work. Nope, toilet is not done, try again…please sweep the floor better…But, I’ve never bothered to peak into the shower to see how that job was done.

Last night, I jumped into the upstairs shower to take a quick rinse off and I recoiled. Oh my goodness. This shower is repulsive. I think we’re going to have to tear this entire shower out and put in a new one. When was the last time someone cleaned this????? It was horrifying. (Just to reassure you, I know that it hasn’t been two years since it was cleaned, I do, on occasion, hire someone to come in and do a deep cleaning for me, so not two years, but definitely somewhere in the months range.)

Today I went down to the dollar store and loaded up on scrubby sponges, rubber gloves, and a shower cleaner that looked like it would melt iron. I also bought a new shower curtain and bathmat. This bathroom was going to get a makeover. Several hours later, many inhaled chemicals later, the shower was sparkling clean: new shower curtain with cute butterfly curtain rings, fluffy blue bath mat. Everything else in the bathroom was sparkling too. At last. A fresh start. A bathroom worthy of me. 🙂

All this cleaning got me thinking about Fresh Starts. Redo. Makeover. Lately I’ve been feeling like I need a fresh start. I remembered back to when we just moved back to the States after living in Chile for a year and a half. We had only been back a couple days and a friend asked me what the difference was between Chile and the U.S. I told her that when I was overseas, I felt alive. I was in tune with Spiritual Things. Everything felt sharp and in-focus. Relationships were life-giving, every-day life was an adventure. When I came to the States and talked to my friends, I got the impression that people  were very distracted, very caught up in the superficial world of entertainment and the acquiring of new stuff. Life felt fuzzy. I didn’t like what I saw and I wondered how I was going to keep myself from falling into the same trap.

Fifteen years later, I look at my life. I look at my priorities. Everything is fuzzy. Though I profess that Jesus is the most important thing in my life, reality doesn’t seem to reflect that truth. Social media, books, the internet, movies, books, interesting thoughts and theories. These all seem to have first place in my life. I feel out of touch with my Bible. I feel out of touch with nature. I feel out of touch with people. I’m existing in a small, insulated world of entertainment. Any time there is a pause in the day, I pull out my phone. Check Facebook. Read my emails. Check in with my blog. In an attempt to avoid boredom, I have instead dulled all my senses, flattened out the highs and lows, and created an existence that demands constant stimulation and is afraid of simply being. In an attempt to avoid boredom, I have become a boring person. A person who only engages on a superficial level. I have lost my First Love, Jesus, and replaced him with the idol of diversion.

I need a fresh start. I think about the hard work I had to put in to reclaim my bathroom. Make it clean and fresh and usable again. It wasn’t easy. Fresh starts aren’t. I’ve talked to my husband about the need to make some big changes. It’s not just me. It’s the entire family. We are all addicted to our wifi. The little kids have tv shows they stream. My teenagers have their shows and sites they must check up on every day. We always seem to have our faces glued to a screen. Andy and I have decided that as soon as school is out, we are pulling the plug on the wifi. No more internet at the house. I have wanted to do this sooner, but the reality is that the kids do need internet to do their homework. We’re going to try it out for the summer.

This is going to be painful for the whole family. We have already heard our teens’ opinions on the matter. I told them I would take them to the library as often as they wanted to go. We just weren’t going to be hooked up at our house. We love Friday Night Movie Night. So, maybe we’ll make trips to the dollar theater or go to the drive-in. We’re not trying to give up watching movies, just turning it back into an occasional special treat instead of part of the daily diet. I am hoping that as we no longer have a screen to stare at, we can wake up from this fuzzy dream we have entered and start having time for real life. Make devotions priority. Get outside. Focus on each other again. We will find out soon. The Restart button is about to be pushed.