So it's January 2, here I sit with a piece of leftover gingerbread, toasted, with butter...and a nice cuppa joe. I am ready for SPRING! Bring on the bluebonnets! Ah, well, we have to get through January and February first...always so difficult for me. One of the big differences between Houston and San Antonio is the azaleas that would always sort of usher in the hope of spring. Every year, in February, Houstonians perk up at the sight of fuschias, pinks, whites, and purples in yards all over. People call Houston "The Magnolia City", and while it's true there are tons of magnolias, the real showstopper, and more appropriate flora for the city, would be the azalea. They don't last long--maybe 3 weeks--but they are absolutely gorgeous, and I do miss them. Here in SA, mid-February, we get some impressive weed growth--I mean, impressive...but when you start seeing little blue flowers popping up in March, it's as if your life has started anew. Bluebonnets! Everywhere. Sides of highways and roadsides turn blue. The state won't allow workers to mow along medians or on easements where bluebonnets typically grow. There is even a myth that has circulated for years that you cannot pick bluebonnets as they are the state flower (the picking part is untrue).
All this to say that Matt's face has already taken on the perpetually amused look, as it does each year when Christmas and New Year's are all over, and I'm itching to bust out my flip-flops again and begin digging and planting and pretending I'm a gardener or something. The thing is, every year a plant in my yard doesn't die, it's a year of success and spurs me to try something new and different. Which leads me to my second topic...
Improvements/Resolutions/Personal Growth...and So Forth.
One of the sore spots in my life for the past year has been a tiny little thing on the Internet called Facebook. Know it? ;-) I bet you do. Further, I bet you know at least one person that refuses to get on it. A spouse, a parent, a friend...someone who sees how it can affect people, or perhaps it has affected them personally. You might think it affects you personally, and maybe not in a good way. Facebook is a double-edged sword; first and foremost, you get out what you put in. That's where I fall short. I've put in too much, in the way of information. Facebook knows too much about me; and because I "put in" that information, they craftily formed ads and posts from groups and pages that I've "liked" and "joined" so innocently over the past three years. They also know me because of what I haven't liked or joined, and that's kind of a scary thought, when you really run it through your cranium. Over the course of two years, the folks at FB know a lot about ol' Polly here. They target ads and pages just for me...just for you...and everyone else. It's gotten progressively more invasive, the more information I've put out there. If you put your tinfoil hat on with me, you'll find that it was meant to be that way all along, and if we let it, that can be infinitely more dangerous to our privacy and family than any stranger on the street. Having said all that (tinfoil hats off, please)--the second side--the other edge of this sword--is that along with all of this new information and barrage of ads and images and stories (my favorite is "Your Friend so-and-so Likes" <insert facebook page of random company or political candidate here>) I am developing quite a bad attitude. That bad attitude is carrying over into my real life, festering into actual hatred for people and things. It is also turning me into quite the hermit, and that is affecting my relationships with people. I've always been a rather optimistic, positive, social soul, so this has really been getting to me. I had to sit down and ask myself what would happen if suddenly facebook went away. If it just disappeared. I thought about what I would miss--seeing friends, family, sharing our day-to-day lives and photos with others, and enjoying the ones shared with us. If I miss friends and family so much, why am I not making more of an effort to get in touch with them on a more personal level? Even via e-mail? What I realized is, facebook is passive. It is not active. It reflects what we've done, not what we're doing. I knew I'd rather spend the time with some of the people I know on FB, rather than just letting them know what I've been doing without them.
Facebook can be a very good thing. It can! It can be fun, and a great way to communicate with those far away. I love being in touch with friends, cousins, uncles and siblings that do not live near me. I love being able to share photos of my kids. I love that people enjoy these things, too. So, in order to prioritize and regroup, I've taken the month off of Facebook, and will begin anew February 1. I'm drastically shortening my friends list, knowing full well I may be possibly "offending" people...I'm keeping people on my friends list who I value and love and in return are a positive, uplifting value to me. --Not necessarily people that post all the time; not even people that necessarily post to me. I'm also going in my "likes" and removing most of them. Sweepstakes? Contests? Games? Not if you want to post on my "behalf". No way. I am taking back control over my Facebook account. But for the entire month of January, I am staying away...to focus more on God, to enjoy my life again, to get outside, gain some perspective, and love my life! Terry Broadwater is a pastor at Grace Community Church in Centennial, CO. He has a blog and discusses overcoming obsessions there, and about how God gives us the weapons to overcome strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and then goes on to define a stronghold as a "prisoner locked up by deception", a "place of strength where evil is entrenched", and "well-protected and difficult to attack". Facebook, on its own, is not these things, but if we allow it to rule our lives and dictate our emotions each day, it becomes such. I have chosen instead to use my weapons at my disposal and get rid of the strongholds. I am grateful to God for putting people in my life to show me how to do just that.
Building on this, my word for 2014 is "unplug". Unplug from computers. Get out in the sun, in the sand, in the dirt, in the rock. Unplug from TV. Unplug from talk radio and music. Play with my kids. Cook new recipes. Exercise. Do things that don't involve self-absorption and instead find things that involve others. Feel free to use it for your own and expound on it. Take a stand in your life and get rid of all the things that tie you down to yourself.
Enjoy your day!