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“What technology are you grateful for?”

I remember pre-microwaves, pre-Internet, pre-home computers, and pre-flat screen TVs. I remember when you had to watch your favorite TV show the first time, because there was no guarantee it would ever be on again. We did have reruns, but no way to know when a particular show would re-air. I remember when social media consisted of picking up the party line and listening to your neighbor’s conversations. I remember when I got to use one of the four electric typewriters in my Typing class in high school for one quarter. Otherwise, we were stuck with the manual ones. I remember being so excited when my uncle had a console color television delivered to our house for Christmas one year. Color TV! Oh yeah, we were so cool. I remember when my parents had their kitchen remodeled and it included a flat cook top and double oven. I remember when we got a really long cord on our home phone so I could sit in the living room and talk to my friends. I remember when my brothers would call on the holidays and we would pass around the long-corded handset to each family member in attendance.  I remember taking a dime (and later, a quarter) to my high school basketball games so I could use the pay phone to call my mom to come get me. If I forgot the quarter, I just called “collect.” Do they even offer collect calls anymore? Do they even have pay phones?

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Not proud that I held that phone throughout the whole wedding reception. Taking pictures was my excuse.

Technology has improved our lives dramatically…and yet, complicated them as well. No longer do we gather around one phone handset to talk to family members. We each stare at our own phones, texting our holiday greetings in words and not voices. When I was growing up, my dad and I talked about movies and actors and who starred in which TV series and when.  Now we wouldn’t need to debate those things – we have the IMDb app to prove our opinion.

 

Of course, I could go on and on. Most of you can remember what life was like prior to the expansion of  technology in the last 50 years. In many ways, I miss the simplicity of life then, but I don’t think I’d turn in my iPhone to go back. I enjoy being able to connect with my friends and far away family on Facebook or to talk/text my kids in far away places at any time (without calling “collect” – I don’t think they’d accept). I enjoy watching my niece dance on live Instagram. I like checking in with my husband multiple times of the day, just to say “Love You” with a little heart emoji.

I certainly don’t want to lose the ease of keyboarding on a laptop from a coffee shop, blogging my thoughts about technology, or life, or gratitude. I like Amazon and Google and dictionary.com.  I need my flash drives because my memory isn’t what it used to be. I’m attached to my e-reader and touchscreen laptop. Though I receive too many, I enjoy reading my emails and shopping online.

So I guess it comes down to balance. Keeping perspective about the old ways and adapting to new ways. The expansion of ways to “know” things has expanded beyond our ability to keep up. If you read all day, you wouldn’t be able to digest the amount of words being written just on the msn home page alone.

Technology will never replace sitting down around the kitchen table for a meal with my family. Cyber hugs will never be as satisfying as real ones. Maybe we should determine to put down our technology once in awhile, and connect the old fashioned way – face to face, not FaceTime. Mano y mano, not selfies. Rants around the water cooler, not anonymously on Twitter. Coffee in a real cup  listening with actual ears, to flesh-and-blood people in need of real connection.

I challenge you to leave your phone at home the next time you go out with friends. Who’s going to call you anyway? You can check the game scores later. Technology is here to stay, but you still control how much it controls you.

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Remember Dug, the loveable golden retriever in the Disney movie “Up?” He had a couple of famous lines such as “I have just met you and I love you,” and “I do not like the cone of shame.” Dug was also the character many with ADHD identified with because he was easily…“Squirrel!”

Dug’s tendency to be sidetracked by just about anything was fun in the movie but distractions aren’t always entertaining. They can keep us busy but cause important things to be derailed.

Distractions, by definition, prevent us from giving full attention to something else. Lately there has been a big “Don’t Text & Drive” ad campaign to keep us from being distracted by our phones while operating a vehicle. Too many passengers in a car may be a distraction for a young driver. The many different social media websites can certainly be distractions from accomplishing more important tasks.

Today I’m going to try to give up distractions in order to focus more fully on the essentials. My faith, my family, my work…these are all areas I need to keep in my vision without “squirrel-moments” taking me down “rabbit trails.”

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Is Facebook calling your name? Did you just get a notification on your phone that someone responded to your latest status? Wanting to check your Twitter timeline? How about posting your latest food creation on Instagram? Did they add a new TV series to Netflix? A new book by my favorite author? Two chocolate chip cookies left? Is reading this blog actually a distraction for you?

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
(1 Corinthians 10:13) ESV

On a beautiful day, after a long winter, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking time out of your busy day to enjoy a walk, or meet a friend for coffee, or change up your routine. But don’t let distractions become your norm. By staying focused on the important people and tasks in your life, you’ll have more time for those beneficial distractions later on.

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
(Proverbs 4:25-27) ESV

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Staying healthy and fit is a lot easier than it used to be. When I was younger the options for where to run for exercise were running on the road and…ok, that was it…running on the road. Nowadays there are all types of trails – paved, crushed rock, wood chips – in varying widths and lengths – plus treadmills with all sorts of bells and whistles. You can basically hook yourself up and get a full medical breakdown while you listen to tunes or watch an episode of Dr. Phil. They even have treadmills at our local public library so I can read and walk without getting hit by a car or tripping off the curb. Yes – I’ve done that. No – not read and walk…just trip off the curb.

But now I’m the clueless owner of a smartphone and I have the power of genius literally at my fingertips. Want to train for a 5K? There’s an app for that! Want to find out how many steps you’ve taken in a day or get a reminder to drink more water? There’s an app for that too!  I even have an app for daily workout routines with videos and countdowns so I can follow along. I love this techie stuff!

There are few great apps for getting spiritually fit too. I just downloaded a prayer app to help me remember to pray for specific requests or post my own request for others to pray.  I know my busy life needs reminders now and again.

Now I can watch church services on my phone, Kindle or computer any time, day or night. There’s an app for that! It’s called Sermon.net and it allows a listener, free of charge, to access an archive of sermons, teachings and live broadcasts.

There are even apps for motivation and encouragement.

But, my very favorite app allows me to read the Word, in just about any version, right from my phone. YouVersion is a free Bible app that I have downloaded to my phone and my Kindle. There are no ads (which is unusual for free apps) and has tons of features like Bible reading plans, devotionals, and even suggestions for sermon topics. You can highlight verses and then virtually share with your friends, via Twitter, Facebook or email. You can create notes or bookmark a passage for later study. You can read it or have it read to you. KJV, NIV, NASB plus hundreds of other versions…in English, French, Spanish or Abau, Batak Karo, Chorti, or Gofa. (In case you’re wondering, those are 4 of the hundreds of languages available).

Commercial over. BTW – all the apps I’ve mentioned are free and available through the iTunes app store. Okay – commercial is really over now.

Closing thought: we have no more excuses. No more reasons to say we can’t pray, can’t read the Bible, can’t get healthy. The tools are available – we just have to pick one up and use it.

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