charlie's song


Cell Phones and Subtexts

Growing up, I often joked that my parents were “The Flintstones.”  We even dressed like them one year.  Fred.  Wilma.  And Pebbles.  All I have to say about THAT is it is NOT easy keeping a dog bone in your hair.

However, being the “hip” technological family that we weren’t…I actually did have a cell phone in high school.  It was so huge and awkward that my friend dubbed it, “The Bible Cell Phone.”  It seemed to have been manufactured at least that far back.  But since I was the only kid I knew who had a cell phone at the time, everyone thought I was “Cool Beans.”  Just imagine… Zack Morris, chatting it up as he walked the halls of Bayside High…and you’ve probably got the mental image pretty much down.

I had that cell phone for three years of high school…and used it once.  One time.  One fateful morning I was driving to school, and had to use the phone to call my mom.  The strange screeching sound coming from the back tires, and the thick smoke, and smell of burning rubber permeating the air…was an indication to even my 16-year-old girl brain that clearly something had gone awry with my hot wheels.

But other than that…I never, ever used it.  Because honestly, who needed a cell phone in 1997?

I feel like I am talking about a ancient bygone era, but in a way…I am.  Because todaywell, do you know anyone who doesn’t have a cell phone?  They have become such an intregal part of the communication of our culture, that we can’t even function without them.

And to the little people in our lives…who can’t even remember life without iPhones, because they have always been there…life without cell phones is inconceivable.  That iPhone was in their hospital birth room…one of the first to greet them into this brave new world.  Mommy was holding that cell phone…while she nursed them through their first earthly dinner.  Daddy was feverishly texting family and friends the important stats….while the doctor was giving them a once over inspection.  That trusty cell phone even documented baby’s first drive home…and it has been an integral part of their lives ever since.

It’s no wonder our kids scurry around the house looking for our lost cell phone and then proudly present it to us like they’ve just discovered our desperately needed breathing apparatus.

They have.

All of that being said.  I’m taking a break.  Signing off.  Going dark.  Revisiting the stone age, if you will.

Today…starting now.

Just as soon as I check my texts, and take one last long look at Instagram…and finish this blog.  And, and…and.

But it’s got to be done.

Because.  I.  Am.  So.  Very.  Tired.

Our ministry has given us a sabbatical for the summer, and I’m not going to lie…I am counting down the minutes until it starts.  I’ve actually got a mental paper chain strung up in my head…counting down to the the end of the longest year and half of our lives.

Because I have never, ever been this exhausted.  Ever since January 27th, 2013 our life has felt like a long journey through a dark and twisted valley filled with land mines of every possible shape and sorrow.  And my soul is at a breaking point after all that we have been through.  We need a Sabbatical.  A genuine Sabbath rest from not just our ministry, but our whole life as we know it.

We desperately need to do the things we don’t normally do.  Rest.  Reflect.  Process.  Vacate.  Sleep in.  

Breathe, even perhaps.

But even more…I think we need to not do all of the things we normally do.  We need rest from our life as it is now.  The one full of suffering…that happened to us against our will.  And also…the one filled with things we’ve chosen.

And one of the biggest things we need a break from…is the technological world.  We have had thousands upon thousands of people reach out to us in the last year and a half as we have journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death.  Through the loss of three precious babies, our health, and literally everything we own…social media and technology have provided the most incredible avenue for our family to be loved on and supported by the Body of Christ.  I honestly cannot imagine our lives without it.

But therein lies the problem…I cannot imagine our lives without it. And though I am so deeply grateful for the outpouring of love God has lavished on us through something so base as pixels on a computer and iPhones in our hand…we need a break from all of it.

And so…starting today…I’m “throwing my cell phone in the ocean,” if you will. There will be no cell phone, except for 911 calls.  No emails or texts, except for emergency contacts.  No Facebook checks.  No blogs.  And no Instagram posts.

I told my friend this weekend that we were “going dark,” and she seemed kind of frantic about it.  She said, “But how will I contact you!  Telegraph?!”  

Honestly, I don’t know.  Maybe send me a letter.  Or a passenger pigeon.  I’m not sure.  We’ll work something out.  And as they always say during dramatic breakups… “Truly…It’s me.  It’s NOT you.”  It’s not that I need a break from you. I need a rest from the ways and means and dependency my heart has to be connected to you.

For two big reasons…

1.  I need to do this…because I need to see my kids eyes.  It’s not that I spend hours all day long glued to my iPhone.  I don’t.  I spend minutes all day long looking at my phone.  And all those minutes…add up.

I’m actually someone who has serious trouble, and I mean serious trouble, keeping track of my phone.  And even when I do know where it is…it is rarely charged, much to my husbands dismay. But when it isn’t buried under blankets, or hiding at the bottom of the dangerous chasm that has become my purse…I am on it.

And then they come in.  Those precious glories whom I love more than anything in the world…the needy little bundles that they are.

“Mommy, I need a drink.”  “Mommy, I have a runny nose!”  “Mommy, Emma is going to BITE ME!!!!!”  

“Hmm…what’s that dear…Emma would never bite you.   Oh wait…there was that one time…”  

And there we are…in a distracted three way conversation:  me, my needy little kid of the moment….and my cell phone.   I have gotten adept at having whole conversations with them, without ever even looking up.

It’s not that I do that all of the time.

It’s that I do it at all.

Because…I don’t want to.  I don’t want to appear so “busy” with email, and Instagram, and texting…that I can’t even stop what I am doing and look up into those beautiful eyes that are growing older by the day.  But I do.

And so do you.

And the subtext that we are communicating to them, without ever using such harsh words is…“Mommy is really busy.  Mommy is really important.  Mommy has something really important to take care of right now.  And it’s not…you.”

It’s like we should all just run around town with Taylor Swift-like T-shirts that say, “I’ve got a lot going on right now.”  Because we moms at least seem so very busy to our kids…with all those “important” things we need to see and do.

We are busy in the grocery store line…checking Instagram.  We are busy at the park…Pinning our next dinner.  We are busy at bath time….getting one last work email done.  And while none of those things are inherently bad in and of themselves…they add up to a LOT of precious moments lost.  Moments when we are looking at a screen…and not looking at them.  And I can’t take it any more.

I need a break from all of it.  I need to see their eyes for the next forty days. And though it may very well feel like a wilderness experience at times…I am praying and hoping that by the end of it…I will know the heart behind each one of those precious eyes a little better.

And praying that the forty days after the technology fast…will be better than the forty days that led up to it.

Which brings me to reason number 2.

2.  I need to do this…because I’ve seen things creep up in my heart that make this seem like a necessary intervention.

A few weeks ago I heard from a friend about their feelings on the “discrepancy” between our life on our blog…and our life on Instagram.  Those of you who have read our story here…have probably gathered that our life has been really, really hard.  And it has.  I have many, many flaws, but disingenuousness…is not one of them.  This blog is my authentic journey through suffering, and I have meant every word.  It is the real deal.

At the same time, if you saw my pictures on Instagram…you may perhaps think that we’ve got the dream life.  Yes, we do eat beautiful food.  I am a firm believer that if you have to eat three squares a day for 80 plus years…they should at least look and taste really good.

And yes, we do go on awesome adventures.  There’s two schools of thought on parenting a gaggle of little geese.  One school says, “Hunker down in the house and try to just take deep breaths for the next ten years.”  The other school says, “Try to get out and have as much fun together as you possibly can…it will help Mommy not lose her mind, and there will be less biting in the long run.”  I’m in the second school.

And so….I post pictures of the fun things we eat and the fun things my cute kids do.

Because let’s be brutally honest here…the subtext of all things social media is, “Look at my life…well, at least the best parts of it.”  That’s just the reality of this new social media world that has crept up all around us.

So, which one is my real life?


And neither.

If people can’t handle the vast chasm created between my blog…where I literally bled my heart out on every page…and my Instagram posts…where I show the best parts of our day…well then, they just haven’t figured out how social media really works yet.

could show the awesome blood draws I get every week, and my beat up arms that get punctured multiple times every visit…but I don’t want to.  I could show the hours a day I spend laying back on the bed so the mold medicine can seep into my brain and pull the toxins out…but honestly, who wants to see that?

I show the best parts of my life over social media…and so do you.

And what terrifies me, as I stand at the edge of the Technology Wilderness I am about to enter…Is what will happen without that?  What will happen…if no one sees Emma’s awesome birthday surprise I have planned?  What will happen…if no one sees my new Liege Waffle recipe I’ve been cooking up?  What will happen if no ones sees a picture of us on our anniversary?

And the answer is…NOTHING.  

We will enjoy Emma’s special day with reckless abandon.  We will eat those delicious waffles with relish.  And we will celebrate all eight years we have survived together with the best that is in us.

And you won’t be there for any of it.  We will enjoy it alone.  And that…is ok.

But it’s also scary and unknown.  Because I think that, especially for those of us who are moms, and who are relegated by default the the land of “being home a lot alone,” we have come to depend on social media as a way to stay connected to one another.

And it really DOES keep us connected.  I honestly can’t even remember the names of some of my best friend’s kids…because they are not on social media.  I never see pictures of them, I never hear about the funny things they say and do, and I sadly feel no real connection to their lives.

I love seeing pictures of my friend’s kids.  I love seeing what people I love who live all over the world are up to.  And I love sharing our life with them.

But would I be OK…without it?  

Would I feel too broken, too disconnected, too alone…without it?  

Will they still pray for us?  Will they still remember us?  Will they still care about us…if they don’t see our lives?

Those are the real questions.  Those are the real subtexts that we adults hear…every morning when we wake up and check our cell phones…before our feet even hit the floor.

And those are the real things I am hoping to wrestle through over the next fourty days…as I take a genuine break from all of it.

Please pray for our family.  My greatest fear is that we will be forgotten, as we lose our only real connections to so many of you.  And we really do, desperately need the connection of your prayers.  We are not doing well.  We are so very tired, and I, in particular feel deeply broken and weary right now.

And I am afraid that disconnecting from all of these means of connection will make us even more alone in this spiritual battle…than we already are.

I so wish that I was Laura Ingalls Wilder and lived in the same small town as all of the people who love me best and most.  But I don’t.  None of my best friends and family live within an hour of where I live…and many live thousands of miles from here.  I am thankful for how Instagram and Facebook and Email and Texts…help make this big world a little smaller.  And I am so deeply grateful for how God has used these things to help us feel loved by a worldwide system of people we both know and don’t know.

But it has come at a high price.  And it has created subtexts that I never, ever wanted to communicate to the ones I love the most.

And so, beginning now…I want to write some new subtexts.

Mommy, loves you.  You are the most important thing in my universe.

I am so excited to see that beautiful picture you just drew…that looks strangely familiar to the five you drew just before that.  

I would love to cuddle with you and read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” AGAIN.  I have nothing else to look at right now.  Nothing else to do.  

I am all here for you.  

And your eyes…are so very beautiful.

And so it begins.

If you need to contact me…send me a passenger pigeon.  Or a letter in a bottle.

I don’t know.  We’ll figure something out.  Or…we’ll connect in forty days.

Ciao, world.