Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 30: Media/Technology Conclusion

Well, the fast from media and technology is drawing to a close! Having decided that the last day of each month will be a neutral day to relax and regroup before starting the next fast for the next month, today was my last day! I thought it might be good for me to summarize a few things that this month has taught me. First, I found that since I didn’t have TV or social media, I was more aware of everyone around me and therefore more aware of how I could serve them. In me, TV and social media fostered laziness both physically and mentally. In my spare time I never thought of anyone but myself, and therefore never did anything for anyone but myself (Ouch. This was hard to admit. But it’s true!). Being so saturated in media causes both laziness and apathy, both of which are forms of what I like to call spiritual poverty.
However, being free from media and technology this month has enlightened me to that laziness (and self-centeredness) and begun a change that hopefully will carry over into my day to day life. For example, before school started back and all I did all day was sit around and watch TV, I found that I WILLINGLY cleaned the house for my Mom and didn’t feel bitter about it while I was doing it! Usually, I know that Mom expects me to have the house clean when she gets home, and I’m almost always bitter about it because it cuts into “my time” to watch TV or surf the internet (sorry, Mom). But this month not having TV or social media has made me realize that no time is “my” time, and ALL the time that I have should be time spent loving my “neighbor” as myself and seeking out ways that I can serve those who are around me. Social media is so self-centered that most of the time it blinds us from seeing the needs of those around us.
            This month I also struggled with whether or not to delete my social media accounts altogether. However, in “The Seven Experiment” study guide, Jen Hatmaker explains a little bit about the relationship between social media and being “in the world but not of it.” She points out that as Christians, we have to be proactively intelligent about what we allow into our minds (especially when it comes to provocative advertisements and such). We must always be seeking out the truth. Jen says, “Truth turns us into wise teachers, not simply avoiders.” You know what’s better than avoiding social media? Being smart, speaking and seeking out truth, and engaging the culture where it’s at in order to leverage it for the good of the kingdom.
            Will I be setting boundaries for the amount of time I spend using social media/technology after this month? You bet I will. But will I be more aware about leveraging my social media for Christ from now on? You bet I will. When it comes to TV and media, instead of “checking my brain at the door,” as Jen puts it, I will be intentional about seeking out what is true, noble, and righteous. I pray that God continues to convict me and teach me about how to use well the time that He grants me each and every day. I pray that for you, as well.

Lord, teach us to seek first Your Kingdom in all that we do, so that Your name might be magnified in all the earth!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dear Jesus, I missed a retweet from Katy Perry... all for You.

Sooo… for those of you who don’t know, Katy Perry has a new album coming out this October. For publicity for Katy Perry’s new albums, she has a gold 18-Wheeler truck drive through all 50 states in America. If you happen to spot it, get a picture of it, and tweet it at Katy Perry, then she has promised to retweet you on Twitter.
Is it not just my OUTSTANDING luck that I would see this truck WHILE I’M FASTING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA. What is this?! A cruel joke of some sort? A test to see just how committed I am to this whole “7 Experiment” thing? Well, God, I hope I passed. Because I missed a retweet from Katy Perry… all for You.

On a lighter note, I still got pictures of (and with) the 18-Wheeler.

These are two random strangers whose dad asked if they could get a picture with us,
after he asked which one of us was Katy Perry.
Summer and I both raised our hands. 

P.S. I may or may not have tagged Katy Perry in the tweet that I shared the link to this blog in. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Seven Months of "7"

Photo from Jen Hatmaker's Bible Study Guide,
"The 7 Experiment"

          I’ve had a couple of friends ask me what the other things are that I’ll be fasting from for the other six months. I haven’t decided yet what order I’ll be doing them in, but here’s the list of the seven areas of excess I’m setting out to simplify:


There's also been a bit of confusion about the books:

          There are two books, "7" by Jen Hatmaker, and "The 7 Experiment" by Jen Hatmaker. "7" is just the book, and I read it first. You CAN read it without actually doing the fast, and I highly suggest that you do so, even if you're skeptical. It does not "guilt you" into anything. It does, however, open your eyes to many things that we've become blind to as Americans and especially as American Christians. 
          "The 7 Experiment" is the actual Bible Study that leads you through a 7 WEEK journey of decreasing excess. I am using the book to keep my head in the game as to WHY I'm doing this fast (because it'd be all to easy for me just to do it and not really think about the deeper reasons as to why I'm doing it), but I'm actually doing the full 7 months instead of the 7 week program it leads you through. 
          Either way, LifeWay has both and I'm sure they'd be more than happy to sell you a copy. $15 well spent!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 7: Media/Technology

          So, it’s day 7 now of the media/technology fast, and I have to say: I’m kind of enjoying it, actually. I really kind of wish that I could COMPLETELY unplug for the month (well, I might make it a couple of days. A month is a LONG time). You know, where I turn off my cell phone and toss it in the bottom of my closet, don't touch a computer, and don't even look at a TV. Unfortunately, though, I have to stay connected to civilization digitally because I have things like school that I have to prepare for this month. I actually feel like I’m cheating because I had to order textbooks online. YUCK. (Oh, who am I kidding. I actually love getting my textbooks because I’m a nerd. And, no, I’m actually not being sarcastic about this.) And after I wrote this paragraph I realized that I said “actually” four times. I could have changed it, but I *actually* decided to let you laugh at me instead. Go ahead.
A couple of my textbooks that've already come in!!!
I cannot WAIT for school to start back!
So what if I am a nerd.

            But I digress. Back to how I’m guilty of cheating with the media/tech fast. I’ve caught myself sitting down in my living room watching the Today Show, suddenly realizing what I’m doing, and then jumping up, sprinting around my living room to find the remote, and turning that sneaky little thing off. It was all its fault.
            I also have to admit that I now check my email about 25 times every day because it’s the only app on my iPhone that’s legal for me to check. I’m trying, okay? I’m now revising that rule to checking my email ONCE a day. (And let me tell you. This is going to be a struggle.) Why is checking my phone for some new little tidbit of information such an addiction? It’s so hard to shake.
            Enough with my failure, though. It really has been nice not having Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, radio, television, and other things to distract me throughout the day. Just in this week alone I’ve finished two books and have started a third. I have come to realize that I have so much down time that I usually use social media to fill, while I really could be doing something worthwhile. It’s safe to say that I’ve definitely kept things cleaner this week (like my room--well, sort of...), and I’ve also been craftier because I’ve had more time on my hands. Well, really, I’ve had the same amount of time on my hands, but I’ve been using that time to do things that are a whole heck of a lot more enjoyable and beneficial than sitting around scrolling through social media sites. Social media just really isn’t that interesting, people.
            I keep thinking back to the first day that I started this fast. I shut my computer, turned off the TV, and then proceeded to delete all of the unnecessary apps on my iPhone. If you don’t have an iPhone/aren’t familiar with how they work, then you won’t get this. But, if you are, then you’ll understand:
            I began to delete my apps, and almost started laughing out loud—because there all my cute little apps were, shaking before me, almost begging me not to delete them. They looked so sad, shivering like they do. But as I hit the little “x” in the top-left corner of almost half of my applications, I felt almost free. It was a relief to not have them there, demanding me to check them every five minutes. And it was nice to know that this month I wouldn’t have to worry about what they had to say to me or what I had to post in order to make myself look the absolute best that I can. Because, if we’re honest, that’s 90% of what social media is—an outlet for us to put our best foot forward. A place that’s easy for us to make people “like us”  (no pun intended) because we only post what we want people to see.
            And I hate saying that because I know that THIS will be going on my Facebook and I don’t necessarily want people to know that I struggle with pleasing others and with wanting them to think well of me. But it’s time for me to start breaking out of that mold. As Christians we’re called to confess our sins if we want to be healed. 

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
James 5:16, ESV

          Transparency brings healing, and it also takes the focus (and the pressure) off of trying to be perfect all the time.
          NEWSFLASH: I am not perfect. You are not perfect. And this life isn’t about us, and it’s not about us trying to BE perfect, either. This life is about loving Christ and serving others, and when we try and appear perfect, never confessing our struggles with each other, it’s very easy for the world to point fingers at us and call us hypocrites when it becomes obvious that we’re NOT all that we appear that we are. And it WILL become obvious. 
            But what would happen if we started letting brothers and sisters in Christ (or, better, nonbelievers) in on our dirt? What if we were a little bit vulnerable and shared the struggles that we were going through, no matter how “bad” they might make us look? Chances are, they’re struggling or have struggled in the past with the same issues. God purposefully put us here together, to hold each other up and push us on toward glorifying Him each and every day. And instead of coming across as trying to be "holier than thou" (which is the rep that most Christians get these days), maybe a nonbeliever might see that though you don't have it all together, God still loves, forgives, upholds, and is in the process of sanctifying you.
          I can tell you that every time I’ve been vulnerable, I haven’t been disappointed—and I’ve actually seen God work in my life (and heal me!) because of it. There’s just something about letting go of your pride and being broken before a brother, and ultimately the Lord. 
          Somehow I think that’s what He wants from us, anyway. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Month One: Media/Technology

Kolton at my graduation. Isn't he such a cutie?!
We can never get him to smile for pictures.
Typical boy.

My youngest little brother (who is 13 years old), Kolton: “So, Katie?”

Me: “Yeah, Kolty?”

Kolton: “This whole 7 thing that you’re doing. You’re doing it to serve others?”

Me (thinking): Yes! What an awesome opportunity to explain to my younger brother what this is all about!
Me (out loud): “Yeah, Kolty, it is! You know—”

Kolton, cutting me off: “So does that mean when I’m laying on the couch watching TV and I get hungry, you’ll go make me a sandwich?”

            Um, let me think about that one real quick… NO. 7 has officially begun, and it does NOT involve me making you or anyone else a SANDWICH while you’re watching television. Get up off your lazy butt and make your own sandwich while employing that handy little “pause” function located on the remote control! Goodness gracious.
            Okay so maybe God’s trying to teach me a lesson already—maybe something along the lines of “BE NICE TO YOUR BROTHERS” or something crazy like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m working on it, okay?
That being said, month one is a fast from one of the things that we live most excessively in (without really realizing it): media and technology. And yes, Kolton, that means NO TELEVISION. This month will be a fast from excess that includes:

1.     No social media—no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Pinterest, Wanelo, Etsy (oh my gosh this really is an addiction, isn’t it?!)
2.     No television or movies—however, I may watch a couple of movies with my family because that is the primary way that we spend family time together. I’m getting ready to go back to college, okay? I have to spend quality time with my family. Don’t judge me.
3.     No internet—except to post on my blog (I’ll share it to Facebook and Twitter via my blog as well) and except for school purposes (I’m imagining that telling my teachers I can’t do my research paper because I’m fasting from the internet won’t go over very well. And I just couldn’t do research in that thing called “the library.” Who does that?)
4.     No apps on my iPhone—only what’s essential (like my alarm clock, or else I wouldn’t go to class at all).
5.     Very limited texting—only if it would be quicker than calling. No texting just to talk, though.
6.     No radio.
7.     No having my phone on me at all times. When I’m out my phone will stay in my purse and when I’m at home it will stay in one place at all times.

In all reality, I didn’t think that this month was going to be very hard for me at all. I gave up social media for Lent, and I found that the less I got on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, the less I WANTED to get on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.
And during school, I watch TV next to NEVER. No texting? No big deal. I don’t even like texting anyway.
            However… I forgot that for half of the month of August I would still be at home instead of in school. And what do I normally do all day every day during the summer (when I’m not babysitting)? Watch TV, get on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram (all at the same time, all on different devices), text, and surf the internet (namely Pinterest) for cute clothes, books, my future home, and ideas for my wedding. I’m a girl, okay?
            So maybe this WILL be harder than I thought it was going to be, at least until the 18th when I move back into my dorm at Union (I cannot WAIT!!!). But, I read something today in “The 7 Experiment” Bible Study Guide that really puts this whole fasting thing into perspective—especially because a lot of times we overlook fasting as if it’s unnecessary. Jen Hatmaker writes, “Fasting is an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in our lives. A fast creates margin for God to move… A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves.”
            I definitely see my need to reduce media and technology in my life, especially because it consumes SO MUCH of my time. And I pray that as I take a breather from these things that in all honesty suffocate me sometimes, God will have space to move in my life and in others’ lives in ways that I never dreamed possible.

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Isaiah 58:6-7