Humanity in a Techy World

The world sure has changed just over the last twenty years – the way we interact with a quick text or a short email, etc.  Blogging has exploded … which is why you’re reading this.

In general, the way we interact with one another on a daily basis has drastically changed.  The method in which we give and receive news has been forever altered. There are positives and negatives to this transformation.

But the point to this post is that with so much technology at our fingertips 24 hours a day, we run the risk of losing our humanity.  We run the risk of de-humanizing our existence and the existence of those around us or even those half way across the world.

Drivers often behave in an aggressive or unthoughtful manner when they wouldn’t be as quick to engage in such risky behavior if there was not a shield of metal in between them and their fellow travelers.  They have a buffer of glass and metal.  In the same way, we have a buffer of technology in between the writer and the audience.

I think this is the reason (to a degree) the vitriol and level of hatred has escalated in our media and is evidenced in our usage of social media.

We have forgotten our audience.  We have forgotten the hard working man on the receiving end of our callous words.  We have forgotten the mom who is doing the best she can.  The dads, brothers, moms, sisters, etc.  The people.  They are just people.  Like you.  Like me.

Sometimes I think it’s important to take a step back and unplug for a moment.  Go look someone in the eye while discussing current events over lunch.   Plan a family dinner where no one is constantly checking their phones, but instead shares inside, family jokes.  Reconnecting with humanity will help to preserve our human condition and serves to also preserve some decorum.

Before you fire off that text, email, post, tweet or blog … Remember your audience.

They may not be who you think they are.

They may be just like you.

They may be you.

The Smell of Rain

The sliding glass door, leading to the small balcony off the master bedroom, is open.  Rain has been steadily falling since early this morning and the scent is refreshing.  There is nothing like the smell of freshly fallen rain, except maybe crunching leaves in autumn up north.  But, today, it is Florida’s version of winter weather – although fairly mild, of course.

The showers not only replenish the earth but invigorate the senses.  This is not our typical rainy season that occurs during our hurricane season from June 1st through November 30th.  It has caused some dead limbs to be strewn across the lawn and our swimming pool to be pretty full.  The creek that runs behind our house has become rather full with water gushing as it makes its way over the large rocks, creating a small waterfall.  It’s always so peaceful to look at at the waterfall and listen to the water as it cascades over the rocks.

Water is so soothing, isn’t it?  I think of the ocean with its waves that ebb and flow.  Visitors flock to it and find relaxation.  I also think of a warm bath to calm the mind and body.  Waterfalls in the mountains.  People will hike miles just to catch a glimpse of the beauty of majestic waterfalls.  Perhaps the most famous of falls, Niagara Falls, is the destination of thousands of visitors each year.

God certainly knew water would bring mankind peace and nourishment against life’s stresses.

Although it’s very overcast and rainy today, I am thankful for the precipitation.  Everything has a season and today’s season is rain.

Some complain when the weather prevents them from participating in outdoor activities or dulls their mood.  Instead, why not take advantage of a rainy day to do something indoors that you’ve been putting off?  I like to turn on the lights and play some cheerful music on days like these.  It sends a signal to the mind that we still have cause to be happy, despite the weather.

So, today I will enjoy the fresh scent of the rain.  Tomorrow it will be gone.  The sun will be out along with a few clouds, but the rain will be over.

Ah, to breath in this invigorating fragrance is a beautiful blessing!  You see, there is beauty in the rain.  Yes, unpleasantness too.  Like when you step into a deep puddle.  Isn’t that life?  You take the good and the bad, mix it all together and it is a beautiful gift.

Stewards of Time

Did you know that in a lifetime, the average American will sit at a stop light for six months?  Eight months opening junk mail?  One year looking for misplaced objects?  Two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls and five years waiting in line?

These figures seem impossible to fully comprehend, but somewhere in a sterile cubicle, a statistician has reduced our lives to such peculiar numbers.  If they don’t offer one the opportunity for pause, I’m not sure what will.  Seeing my life in these terms definitely makes me reassess my priorities.

The reality for each of us is, we don’t have nearly as much time on this earth as we originally thought.  We just get complacent that somehow time will stand still for us and that we’ll always have tomorrow to do things, when that is not necessarily the case.  Each of us are allotted a certain number of days and then our lives here on earth will be completed.  What we do in the meantime is up to us.

What will we do with that time?

It is incredibly amazing to me the amount of time people spend watching television, movies, playing video games, etc.  Of course, there is a time and a place for R & R.  Yes, there is.  But, not at the price of neglecting relationships, housework, and other priorities, etc.  And add to our obsession list, the advent of smart phones and we run the further risk of becoming a true ostrich.  What is one to do?

Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we may have a wise heart.”

I think periodically it’s a good idea to reassess how we are spending our free time.  I am a stay-at-home mom but for those who work outside the home, we are targeting the time you have on your hands after you clock out.  For me, my work never ends as I have two teenagers, am married and care for an elderly father at home.  I still have a few moments to call my own.  So what do we do with those?

Are we using our time wisely?  What if we knew we only had a certain number of years remaining in our life cycle?  Would we skip vegging on YouTube or Facebook a bit more?  Would we reach out and call our loved ones on the telephone or even better, visit them in person more?  Texting is lovely but it can never replace our humanity.

Pause is necessary in our crazy busy culture.  What do you hope to achieve in your lifetime?  What kind of person do you hope others remember you being?  Are you that person?  If not, what steps can you take toward becoming that person?

With technology ever in the forefront of our lives, down time is increasingly important for reflection.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or by the lake or on the beach.  Breath in fresh air.  They say when we get out in nature, it has a relaxing effect.  I think we all need more of that in our fast paced society.

Here’s hoping you’ll be a wise steward of your days.

They say no man on his deathbed ever wished they’d spent more time at the office.  No, they often say they wished they spent more time with their family.  Maybe it’s time for a pause, a time of reflection to review priorities.

We are all given the same 24 hours in a day.  It’s how we spend it that is up to us.

 

The Dying Art of the Written Note

We sent out probably around fifty Christmas cards this year, a few less than previous years.  We’ve received somewhere around fifteen cards, which are taped to our mantle as a festive decoration.  There’s something so joyful about getting a personal note in the mail, isn’t there?

As our society has delved deeper into the cyber world, one of its casualties seems to be the art of sending a personal note.  Many find it very acceptable to send a brief text or email, not even a phone call as a means of expressing gratitude or congratulations, etc.  While this certainly is a nice gesture and a small time expense, it cannot replace the personal touch of hearing someone’s voice or receiving a handwritten note.

A written correspondence lasts for years and years, while texts and emails have a limited shelf life.  I have some old cards and letters from thirty years ago!  I cherish reading through them from time to time.  They remind me of those family and friends that may have passed on and the love we shared.  That is something I value.

I owe my great aunt a great deal when it comes to my affection for letter writing.  She would often write her sister (my grandmother) who lived with us when I was growing up.  When she became unable to compose letters for herself, I would ask my grandmother what she would like to say and I would write them out for her.  She was fifteen years older than my great aunt.  They enjoyed sharing the news of various friends and the happenings of their church.  As the years passed, I took over writing the exchange of letters and they were simply from me, sharing what was happening at school and within our family.  I always looked forward to that letter addressed to me with great anticipation!  As an adult, letters still excite me!  There’s nothing less fulfilling than receiving a card with just a signature.  Write something!  What’s going on in your world?  People love details!  Tell them all about it!

Each year we enclose a family newsletter with our Christmas cards and a few years ago, I just decided not to send one out, thinking, first of all, it was too much effort.  Secondly, that perhaps that the letter didn’t matter much.  After that, I had many family members say how much they looked forward to our newsletter each year and they missed reading it!  Lesson learned.  Everyone enjoys receiving news from loved ones far and near.

I think it’s one of the greatest arts we can teach our children and those around us.  Letter writing may be a dying art but not one beyond exhumation.  Sending a note is like putting a stamp on love and affection and giving it away.  Its effects cannot be underestimated for you never know how much it will mean to the recipient.

Why not drop someone you love or admire a note today?

Even if you’re not the best speller or possess the most artistic handwriting, anyone can compose a nice note.  No intricate internet code can ever replace the human touch, the human voice and the handwritten note.  No man was ever designed to be an island to himself.  Reach out.  Let someone know they’ve made a difference in your life or choose to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Here’s to more personal letters, notes and cards in 2017!

What say you?

The Lost Chapter

Luke 15 is often referred to as “The Lost Chapter” because it contains parables concerning “the lost coin”, “the lost sheep”,  and “the lost son” or the “prodigal son”.

As I was contemplating something lost earlier today, the Lord reminded me that there are no “lost causes”, no situations or scenarios beyond His reach.  Sometimes we can get in our heads that certain things are hopeless or just things of the past when that isn’t exactly true.

The prodigal son has long been a favorite parable of mine.  I love it for its rich symbolism to us as God’s children.  Once we were afar off from God, separated by sin, eating in the troughs of rubbish until the day we came to our senses.  We heard God’s voice beckoning us to come and dine at His table.  And then, our Heavenly Father, who saw us coming in the distance just as this dear father did in Luke 15, began to run toward his wayward son, wrapped us in His loving arms and welcomed us back into the family.  What love!  What redemption!  All was not lost.  Not anymore.

Then we have the parable of the lost sheep.  One might think that the shepherd would not waste his time looking for that one who had gone astray.  He has 99; that’s good enough, isn’t it?  99% isn’t bad, right?  This parable once again demonstrates the vast and unending love our Heavenly Father has for us.  He is thrilled to have the 99 sheep, but His truest desire is that none should perish but that all will come into the fold of His love.  According to this parable, you and I are worth the search, worth the effort.

Have you ever lost something highly valuable?  I have.

As I contemplated this thought today, the Lord reminded me that He remains in the restoration business.  He is the Redeemer of our soul and is able to heal us in every way.

Psalm 23:3

“He restores my soul.”

I am comforted by the thought that God orchestrates my paths and ordains all of my days.  If I trust Him, He will lead me in paths of righteousness.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of my days.

He can be trusted, friends.  No matter what you may have lost.  Your reputation, your job, your home, a relationship.  Regardless of your circumstances, there are no lost causes with God.  He is the God of the second chance.  And the third and fourth …. and ninety-ninth.  You are not beyond His reach of redemption.  There is hope.

 Luke 15:20-24,32:

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’

 

The Empty Chair

A figure hobbled into the elegantly appointed kitchen complete with granite countertops and new cinnamon spice wood cabinets.  She set a saucepan of water on the island cooktop in hopes of a pleasant cup of decaf black tea to soothe her sore throat.

As she waited for the pan to come to a rolling boil, she spotted in the living room her favorite cream color, tufted back, reading chair.  You see, she just had surgery and has been on bed rest for two weeks now.  In addition to that, she has had two subsequent emergency room visits due to reactions to the pain medications, etc.  The first episode happened the night she was discharged from the hospital when she could not stop vomiting.  The doctor was concerned there was a bowel obstruction so she was re-admitted 4.5 hours after the initial discharge and scans and X-rays were run.  Thankfully, all were completely normal.

The second episode happened at home when she nearly passed out after taking pain medicine.  Ironically, she was preparing for her post-op doctor’s appointment.  Instead, she was taken via ambulance to the hospital.

And, as if all of that were not enough, she contracted a horrible cold/virus complete with fever and chills likely from germs in the ER.  It’s been a rough run of late.

She’s only been home for three months now after caring for her ill father out of state for four months.  Her father lives with her now and his new, tan leather recliner sits on the other side of the room.

Her favorite reading chair has significance because it is the spot where she began her day with a cup of coffee, her Bible and a prayer on her lips.  She has a written prayer list as a guide to what she wants to talk to God about each day and has seen a number of those prayer requests answered in just the last year.  It’s amazing the situations that loom so large soon become unimportant and resolved, seemingly on their own.  But she knows better.

Yes, the reading chair beckons as a symbol of normalcy, routine and intimacy with our Heavenly Father.  When will I resume my daily routine?  At present, it seems light years away.  But I know that in God’s timing, He has a way of working things out and soon…yes, soon, I will find myself seated in my favorite cream colored, tufted back, reading chair.