Step #3: Limit Distractions

season

I sat staring at the screen for several minutes.

The boxes were doing their little dance as the dark xs taunted me. Surely deleting the apps wasn’t THAT big of a deal, but the longer I took to make them vanish, the more I realized I was addicted to distraction. Sitting in waiting rooms, that two minutes before the oven timer goes off, while rocking my daughter to sleep… anything that could be a mindless activity begged for the glow of a small screen and updates from the world around me.

 distractions

I’ve been thinking about making a big technology change for the past month. Conviction about the amount of time spent pinning, scanning, and promoting took root in my heart and wouldn’t let go . The dinner table and church have always been technology free zones for me, but I began to wonder why I wasn’t willing to carve out sacred spaces in every area of my home and life. I don’t want my daughter growing up staring at the back of my phone.

It’s easy to talk about wanting to make changes, but so much harder to do. When I first started journaling about this series, 12 Steps to Keeping our Hearts in Tune, I listed out “limit distractions.” I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but I knew it definitely involved less screen time. A majority of my work requires time on the computer and posting through social media, so the practical how to make this happen appeared nearly impossible.

There is nothing wrong with social media at face value. I’ve just watched it become an area of temptation in my own life. It can keep me from prayer and time in the Word. It would have me substitute deep friendships for casual connections, compare my life with others, and ignite jealousy, worry, self-righteousness, and the need to please. Why do I turn to this thing, this technology like a drug?

I have to post this!

I wonder what I’ve missed in the past 3 hours?

My food looks amazing. People should see this.

My Bible Study on Nehemiah hit the nail on the head.

Making changes in our lives can be hard, but it’s our refusal to change the places God is asking us to change that keeps us stuck on the dismal merry-go-round we’re too afraid to jump off yet too sick to stay on. We hold on tightly only to pass by the same old stuff exactly where it was at the last time we swirled past… Reading through the Jew’s public confession and their commitment to do things differently has reminded me of how vital follow-through of obedience is to our repentance. (Kelly Minter, Nehemiah: A Heart that Breaks)

I knew what I had to do when I read Kelly’s words and the response of the Israelites in Nehemiah chapters 9-10.

stepStep #3. Limit distractions.

I can tell you with conviction that  following through in obedience is already tuning my heart only five days into the process.

I deleted them.

Good-bye Twitter. Good-bye Facebook. Good-bye Pinterest.

They still exist on my computer, but there’s something SO freeing about not having them on my phone. I’m not forbidden from checking or using them, I’m simply removing the distraction that was affixed to my hand. Now my phone is a camera and a telephone. My time with my daughter is WITH my daughter. I don’t read a passage thinking about which verse I’m going to stop and tweet.

These 5 days have been WONDERFUL. I wonder why I was too scared to try this sooner… the fear of boredom? I was addicted to distraction.

I just pulled up Facebook for the first time in three days. I scanned for 4 minutes, liked a few things, and then I was done. I closed my computer and got back to living my life … not so I could post about it or Instagram it, but just so I don’t miss out.

I talked to my husband about this distraction craving. We’ve determined to keep the TV off completely at least 2 nights a week. We spend our time relaxing and decompressing in a different way. The appeal is already wearing off and I couldn’t be happier.

Those are some of the ways we are actively removing distractions this season. I know this could look differently for each of us, but the challenge remains: if you want your heart to be tuned to sing His grace, limit the distractions that keep you from experiencing your own life and hearing from the Lord. This time is too short and too precious to spend it living vicariously through anyone or anything else.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

 

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

 

Thursday Tips: Simmer Down Now


Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
 -Ambrose Bierce

There’s much when it comes to how we used social media. I couldn’t help but think about this retro video post as I was writing this week. When we consider how much to share on-line I want us to also take a step back and think about WHAT we are sharing.

Note: It might have been 92 degrees in November during the filming of this, but it is currently 103 in May. Tell yourself wherever you live that your weather is delightful!

Catch you after the video:

A Challenge for the week: Think before we post. May our words (typed or spoken) bring joy and encouragement to anyone listening or following…

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” James 1:19-20, MSG

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”Ephesians 4:29, MSG

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14, NIV

Following,
Ginger

#AmIpretty

heart

I mentioned yesterday my concern about the LIKE ME aspect of social media. I’ve been thinking about for a while but it has really come to a point as I consider what it will be like to the mother of a young woman in just a few years.

After I speak at schools and conferences I end up with lots of new young followers through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m honored that you/they have any desire to see pictures of the chalkboard in my kitchen or the thoughts I share in 140 characters. But I’ve also noticed how few young people utilize the privacy settings available. Even though I live a fairly public existence on-line, I am very careful and cautious about the personal information that I do share. The majority of my teen friends on Instagram typically have a thousand followers. When I asked them about the account they could tell me to the precise number of how many people were following and liking on that day.

And then I saw this piece on Good Morning America.

I don’t know about you, but I find using tags like #hotornot, #beautypageant, and #amIpretty to be alarming, to say the least, especially when that’s being asked by young women to friends and even strangers.

Has Instagram become a self-esteem meter? Are we, in essence, asking Social Media to tell us that we are pretty?

I know I’ve only addressed teens at this point (none of my friends in their 30’s are posting “selfies” every day), but I want to acknowledge that the world of “likes” can be a dark addiction for any age. When we seek the approval of our peers to the detriment of our contentment, that’s a dangerous place to be.

So do we toss it all out the window in hopes of finding a cure? Maybe. I definitely admire people who take a step back from Social Media or who have never wandered into the format. But personally I find value in being able to connect with my friends and family who are so far away. I love seeing pictures of weddings I miss. I treasure the baby pictures. (I’m going to try to not go overboard when I’m a mommy. Hold me to it.) Facebook is one of my favorite ways to send my brother a laugh and let him know I’m thinking about him. But I also know that comparing myself to others is a real option when we are all checking out the “best-foot-forward” images of our idealistic lives.

So here’s my challenge to all of us. A few questions to consider before you post:

1. Why are you posting this picture? I try to ask myself this each and every time I hit “post.” I let this question lead me to really consider my motives. Is this true, noble, lovely, or excellent? (Sometimes it’s just funny, and that’s cool too.) Am I looking for an emotional shot in the arm through likes and comments? Am I seeking emotional empathy through a website?

A lot of times I will sit with a photo for 20 minutes and then decide not to hit post. Perhaps I’m over-thinking everything, but in a world that tells me to post everything, I just have to put my foot down and sometimes say NO.

2. Is this humor at the expense of someone else? There’s laughing WITH someone and then there is laughing AT someone. I post funny and ridiculous video clips on my brother’s timeline all the time. It’s our little shared love language. But I’m also careful not to let that humor spill over into being mean. Screaming goats = funny. Celebrities embarrassing themselves while drunk = unkind.

3. Am I posting out of anger? I’ve blogged about this one before. If we are to be known as a people of love we should really be slow to post. May our words (typed or spoken) bring joy and encouragement to anyone listening or following.

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29, MSG

4. Have I checked my security settings lately? I had to throw this out there. Be careful about geotagging your location. With whom are you sharing your daily routine and schedule? I don’t want to become someone overtaken by fear, but at the same time, I want to be smart and protect the privacy of my family. Who can see your pictures? Why do you need them to see your pictures?

5. Am I looking for social media to boost my self-esteem? Even if you won every Instagram beauty pageant and received 300 likes on your next post, my guess is that the high would only last for so long. The “likes” of others can never fill us up. Genuine peace and contentment come when we love ourselves without the approval of others. But true self-worth is found when we see ourselves through the eyes of our Creator.

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7, NIV

At the end of the day, my hope and desire is to run everything I present to the world through this filter…

Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10, NIV

Following,
Ginger

LIKE ME

Are we living for likes?

Tumblr. Instagram. Snapshot. Twitter. Facebook.

There are so many different avenues to get your face, life, and thoughts out for the whole world to see. There’s something exciting about connecting with so many people, but I think there’s also a hidden drug in the midst of all this “self” content.

Has your day ever been made or broken by likes or comments? Does your self-worth swell and blossom with every new follower? In just five short years we have become a like-obsessed society, myself included.

This week we are going to discuss the pitfalls and positives that social media has to offer… and why it matters.

LIKE

I’m curious. What’s your social media media of choice? What do you check first when you log on each day? (My typical order: E-mail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flipboard, and then maybe Pinterest.)

Following and hopefully learning,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Connect

What up friends? Can you believe it’s Friday? Not just Friday, but a Friday in MAY? Holy Moly, where has this year gone?

I wanted to change things up this Friday Finds and just touch base with you.

Hi! My name is Ginger Ciminello and I am passionate about seeing young adults, specifically young women, find their identity, value, and satisfaction through Jesus.

Bam. I said it.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do just that. I blog. I vlog. I tweet. I pin. I instagram. I flickr. I picmonkey. You know. I’m socially in.

But at the same time, I don’t feel all that connected. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing darts while wearing a blindfold, just hoping that God is somehow using what I spend my time and energy producing. I’m sorting through it all and trying to discover the difference between what’s GOOD and what’s the BEST use of my time.

My friend Carey shared this quote with me from a book by Parker Palmer and it continues to resonate:

“Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear.”

We’ve talked about passions and calling before. I believe and know that I am wired to speak and teach God’s Story. There’s no question in my mind. Now I just need to find more ways to do that.

So help a girl out. How can I do this better? Why do you read this blog? Are videos worth your time? Would you like to see more series? Are you reading every day or just once a week? Does your church/youth group/MOPS group/school ever bring in guest speakers for events? Specifically, do they ever bring in female speakers for events?

No really, I would be thrilled if you would take a moment and answer some of these questions down in the comment section. This Friday, my heart needs some connection.

And finally- are you part of the little community on Facebook? If you haven’t already, follow THIS LINK , LIKE, and connect on Facebook!

Thanks, friends! Happy Friday…

Ginger