January 05, 2010

Constant Contact, Part 2

(If you haven't read part 1, I encourage you to scroll down and read that first. :-)

So here I am again at the computer. But today I sit down and type not because I'm desperate for an escape (although I confess that does happen frequently around here). In fact, I have had an unusually blessed day. We began our homeschool routine again after what seemed like an eons-long break, and though I re-entered the scheduled arena with some trepidation (how much attitude and bickering will I face today?!), I report with great joy that today has been an AMAZING day with my kids. I'll write more later about the little ways we're trying to improve daily life around here, but I note all this at the beginning of this particular post because I want to validate (for myself at least) my "screen time," as we call it around here.

Constant Contact is a part of our culture, whether we like it or not. It's not only Facebook, though that aspect was the one that got the most attention in my first post. The newspaper can even be a source of Constant Contact for me--last year I became nearly obsessed with the political scene and spent way too much time pouring over the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Blogs also captivate me. I enjoy keeping our family blog up-to-date since far too much happens for my to physically scrapbook it all. And I enjoy reading friends' blogs and humorous or inspirational blogs as well. When I visit a friend's blog, I try to leave a comment, just a little something to let her know I'm reading her posts. I know I enjoy reading people's comments, and it makes me feel my efforts benefit others as well as myself. But...back to that prideful spirit! As someone noted in one of her comments on that post, that, too, can put a blight on an otherwise uplifting activity as we seek validation from human sources. Darn this selfish flesh!

Sometimes I long for the simpler days of history, before technology so completely pervaded people's lives. I wonder, if I lived a couple of centuries ago, would I have taken more hours in my day to appreciate what was around me? Would I still have a to-do list miles long? Would I still long to escape my responsibilities for a day or two now and then, or would I be more content? A drawback of Constant Contact is realizing there is so much out there--to do, to read, to watch--and developing an insatiable desire to be a part of it. My own "addiction" is, according to the strictest definition of the term, probably better described as a distraction for me; a dangerous one, to be sure--I'm raising soldiers in Christ's army, a task that demands my full attention! I've seen folks who post status updates literally several times an hour and comment on everyone else's updates obsessively. (How DO those people deal with all the notifications?!) While I'm considerably far from that level of "addiction," the burden on my heart is very real to be a good steward of ALL of my time.

So I ponder this idea of Constant Contact, and I realize that there are actually two forms of Constant Contact that I want to make sure I DO incorporate into my life.

First and foremost, I want to be in Constant Contact with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. "Pray continually" and "draw near to God" are commands I need to take to heart in 2010. I love the story of Mary and Martha, the sisters who both loved Christ but showed their love so differently. I think Martha's to-do list was probably a lot like my own.

* Plan the menu
* Prepare the food
* Cook the meal
* Clean the house

But right now, it's Mary's to-do list that interests me. Mary was definitely an NLM (non-list maker), in my opinion. But humor me for a moment. If she DID write a list down, it would be pretty simple.

* Find Jesus.
* Sit and listen to Him.

Sounds good to me! So why can't I slow down and do that?! Probably because I'm too busy squeezing in some Constant Contact with things that don't really matter during my already-full days.

That brings me to my second desire for Constant Contact, and that is with my family. My instinctive reaction to the sentence I just wrote is to laugh out loud long and hard, having just spent a few weeks holed up in the house during very cold weather with very active children who had, apparently, very little to do other than drive each other and their parents crazy. But hear me out for a moment...or rather, listen as God Himself speaks through Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

This passage has long been our family's call to homeschool the children God gives us. Talk about Constant Contact! How else can we teach our kids to know and love God? Every part of our day is to be infused with informal lessons about God, from the time we wake to the time we go to bed. If I'm not in Constant Contact with my children, I simply cannot obey these commands to the fullest, and I miss out on some of the greatest blessings God has for me. So while Constant Contact with 5 kids 9 years old and under from a human perspective sounds like a prescription for disaster, it is in fact a necessary part of training the next generation in righteousness.

I'll repeat what I wrote in part 1: I am writing DESCRIPTIVELY here, not necessarily PRESCRIPTIVELY. Doubtless there are godly Christian parents who are not homeschoolers who are nevertheless doing a fine job of training their children in godly ways. They use their time with their children wisely and follow Deuteronomy 6's instructions to speak of God and His precepts and character as often as possible. I'm not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do regarding their family situation, just as I didn't intend to declare Facebook evil. :-) I'm simply sharing what God has laid on my heart. I hope it's beneficial for someone else.

May you be in Constant Contact this year with the One who loves you most!


Megan R. said...

Your comments on our need for human validation struck a chord with me. My "receptive" love language is "words of affirmation." I thrive on the smallest of verbal pats on the back. Finding a note from John on the kitchen counter that says, "I've noticed how hard you've been working at such-and-such" is a huge encouragement to me. I find it easier to tackle the less savory tasks around the house if I know that somebody is benefiting from my efforts.

My dad writes my parents' Christmas letter every year, and one sentence in that letter has encouraged me over and over when I feel like I'm completely failing my children at times: "Megan is a very good mother," it said. Wow! Somebody thinks I'm doing a good job in spite of my quirks, my moments of being frustrated and yelling at my kids, my inability to permanently stop them from jumping on the couch. LOL

I know there is a balance to be found between benefiting from encouragement and validation from the people around me (the Body of Christ) and becoming addicted to the "atta girls".

Thanks for giving me lots to think about!

Lisa H said...

Beverly, I appreciate both of your Constant Contact posts. I have also allowed FB to consume way too much time. Thank you for being honest and for pointing us back to the Lover of our souls.

I am currently struggling with how much time to spend on my blog. I would love to post every day, but it just doesn't seem possible without sacrificing my family and/or household duties. I need to keep praying about it.

Anonymous said...

just be careful when you talk about your self discoveries and what works for you...that you can make others wrong who do not subscribe to your way of thinking. ie: those who leave multiple FB status reports, those who don't spend every waking hour shaping their children into the image of Christ. Also, I wonder how much time was spent away from your five while you were researching and writing your two part constant contact report? Probably more time than 2-3 status reports on FB would of taken you. Just an observation.

Beverly said...

Glad you felt so free to speak your mind, Anonymous. You would be welcome to leave your name if you felt free to do so. I'm leaving your comment here instead of deleting it, because I'm sure others may be have an opinion similar to yours as well. Apparently you didn't pick up on what I tried to clearly state--I'm not judging anyone else, I'm not prescribing my views for anyone else. I'm simply sharing what God has laid on my heart for MY life and MY family.

Not that I need to justify myself in your eyes, but my posts are written when the little ones nap and the older ones are playing or creating on their own. The whole POINT of this two-part series is that I, I, Beverly, I ALONE, am convicted by MY need to carefully monitor my activities on the computer--Facebook, blogs, etc. I have to wonder, did you read all of these two posts, or did you take offense at something and assume I was trying to be self-righteous? That's the last way I want to come across--I've been saddened to realize how UN-righteous I am.

Every waking hour shaping my kids?! Oh, my. I cannot attain such a high standard, and I'm sure many others can't as well...nor should we wish to, may I suggest! I'm sure my kids need a break from me as well as the other way around.

Sure, I can update my FB status several times a day very quickly. But can I conquer the temptation to scan everyone else's updates? Respond to people's links, videos, photos, etc.? Not always. I get sucked in very easily.

Overall, my interaction with technology is something I need to work on this year. I humbly submit that perhaps I'm not the only one who struggles in this area, so if God can use what I've written to encourage others in this area, then I give Him all the praise and glory.

Anonymous may never return to read this reply, but it makes me feel better to have responded. :-)

Darla Perryman said...

Thanks for both of these posts. We don't belong to Facebook, but even just to check on emails during the day is hard to do. I find if I try to sneak in and catch up on some because everyone seems to be occupied, all of a sudden one of the kids comes running in needing something, then I become impatient, "Just wait 5 minutes!" Then I realize if I was focusing on them, which is my main job during the day, then I wouldn't feel like they were interrupting and my tone wouldn't be so harsh. So I usually stop and wait until they are asleep, when I'll have plenty of time to read and respond to emails or search something on the internet without interruptions. Loved reading all your thoughts and learning of the verse that is your family's call to homeschool.

Heather said...

I enjoyed reading both of your posts on "Constant Contact". I smiled though when I read the title b/c I thought it was going to be about how our kids want to be in constant contact with us (like how your boys were protecting you with their light sabers! :)

Anyway, lots of food for thought that I've been chewing on in my own head. May God continue to guide you as you give yourself to Him each day.