Today is a big day for us. I sent in my Letter of Intent to educate my child at home. It’s official. The government is aware that my son's education is in my hands. I'm a bit nervous, but mostly thrilled to the core. I've been considering myself a homeschool mom since my son was born (all of life is education!) but now that it's official, I've literally seen a lifelong dream fulfilled.
I don’t want to participate in the Mommy Wars, I support my friends who send their kids to school, and some parents might feel guilty, jealous, disheartened, or judgmental about this topic. I don't want to stir up any of those feelings in anyone. However, some people haven't been exposed to homeschool much, or they haven't really weighed the benefits. I'm surprised by how many random people in public ask me about homeschooling, as if we are some exotic species. I'm so glad to talk to them about why we choose this way of life. In case you haven’t considered your options, here are some reasons I’m so stoked about homeschooling:
-Our learning is useful. My kids are learning to cook, start businesses, tend gardens, etc. They are getting ready for life, not just college. Isn't it strange that we spend 14 years of our lives preparing for 4 years of "higher education" that likely won’t even help us attain our future careers or equip us with necessary life skills? Why don’t we learn about things such as food safety, mutual fund investments, and interpersonal communication? Tests, quizzes and homework aren’t how the world operates. Separating the disciplines into disconnected subjects (history, science, math, art, etc.) is unnatural and can stifle innovative thinking. Even then, not all these areas are being explored in schools; my friend is a fifth grade teacher and she said they’re only given five minutes each day for teaching history, and some teachers skip science altogether! What in the world!?
-I can personalize our education to meet my kids where they are. For example, my son is brilliant with abstract concepts, but concrete ideas (like phonics or counting to 100) take more time. For this reason I’m pretty sure he would’ve been held back if I put him in school, and that would’ve made him feel like he’s not smart. He's way too smart; that's the problem. He just needs to learn in a different way than his sister does. And that’s okay. Our curriculum, my expectations of them...everything is customizable. My kids don’t have to feel smarter or dumber than anyone else, because they understand that God makes everyone different.
-Learning is fun. It has to be fun! If my kids are curious and inquisitive, they will choose to learn on their own. I adore this quote: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." I want to light the fire that sets their hearts and minds ablaze for knowledge and wisdom. Love of learning, for the enjoyment of God and the good of others, is my #1 goal in educating my kids. If they love to learn, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish and how they can bless the world. It’s good to teach them self-discipline, training them to do things they don’t feel like doing, but it’s surely fruitful for them to learn that primarily through manual labor (aka chores) rather than hours of homework, right?
-We have so much freedom for field trips. We just went on a six-week road trip, and we try to visit as many museums as we can. (Most of them are free thanks to the reciprocal benefits on my membership to a local museum.) Interactive learning sticks so much better than book work. We actually do more formal school during the summer here in Florida because it's so hot! In the wintertime, the outdoors is our main textbook!
-I can school year-round and take frequent breaks (planned and unplanned) so our formal studies are always fresh and we don’t get thrown off track if someone gets sick or we need to focus on something else. Our daily schedule is laidback and free of commitments so we have margin for relationships.
-My kids get enough sleep each night. They wake up when their bodies tell them to wake up. I make a big breakfast most mornings and we don’t have to feel guilty about staying up late on school nights. Our mornings are still a little hectic (because we have so many little kids in our home!) but they are unrushed and sweet as chocolate chip pancakes. :)
-We have freedom to serve. Currently we are in a season where our efforts are focused on taking care of the baby and being a strong support to some family members going through hard times, but I have big plans (and I’ve seen some great examples) of ways we can serve outside our home in the future (nursing homes, hospitals, etc.)
-My kids are developing their personalities and vocabularies from mature adults who love them, not primarily from other kids who constantly reenact what they see on TV. They trust us and open up to us. They are best friends with each other. They value all generations and walks of life. Somehow they still might manage to see a silly commercial on Youtube and six months later I'll hear one of them say "Oh. My. Gosh. Look at her butt." (True story.) But they're not spending their time talking about Transformers or boyfriends.
-I need the extra time to care for my kids' hearts! They are not made of sugar and spice and everything nice. They need lots and lots of direction and encouragement. No one is better suited for this task than the two people who know them better than anyone.
-My husband was homeschooled, and it’s amazing how much we can trace his success (in character, in business, in everything) to the flexibility homeschooling gave him. I, on the other hand, went to the best private schools in the area and got good grades, but it took up so much time, I was distracted by social insecurities, and I had to be so focused on finishing homework and passing tests that—aside from some classes with absolutely stellar teachers—I retained very little knowledge. While many homeschoolers have had bad experiences and public- or private-schoolers had good experiences, our own experiences (and those of our peers) certainly help weigh our considerations.
-Our kids are free to be curious.Mass-education settings, unfortunately, must stifle curiosity. (Admittedly this happens on some level even in our family of four kids.) If a child is intrigued by how lightning works, for example, in school he might not be able to go too far past that paragraph in his textbook and as much time as his teacher has to answer a follow-up question. But in homeschool, we can (and we have) stopped to say “we will focus on this today” and watched YouTube videos, created LEGO dioramas and enacted lightning with pieces of string, consulted multiple books on the topic, and even discussed the scriptures that talk about how God is sovereign over storms and lightning and thunder proceed from His throne.
-I truly enjoy it! Homeschooling isn't for everyone (but I do think more people should consider it), but this is a dream that I've had my whole life. I get to balance creativity and intellect and try to cultivate so many beautiful things in my kids. I have time for tea parties, back scratching, watercoloring, and tree identifying. We are free to bear the burdens of others, to make things for strangers and friends, to pray and weep for loved ones.
I hope that was encouraging! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
A couple years ago, I tried to keep a “gratitude journal” of something I was thankful for each day. After the first week, I was surprised to find that two whole entries (including the first one) were related to my dad spending quality time with me. Those dates to Golden Corral when I was in high school and those modern-day prolonged chats that we occasionally enjoy today have had such a lasting impact on me that they were at the forefront of my mind when I thought about my blessings. I talk a lot about the important role of motherhood, but fatherhood is an extremely high calling as well, and my dad has taken it seriously. Here are some things I love about him. (I wrote a tribute to my mom last year; click here to read it!)
I love how he has always had a sweet tooth. He’s the only person I know who checks the dates on Reese’s cups at Walmart to try to find the freshest in the store…or who has paid extra to get Reese’s cups shipped straight from the factory so they arrive only 72 hours old. He always has candy, he’s always offering candy, and the time he “quit sugar” still meant he had a little bit of candy after each meal. He knows how to savor a good donut, and he can spend twenty minutes telling me about how great that donut was…and I’m captivated the whole time.
That brings me to another thing I love about my dad: he’s an incredible storyteller. His stories are almost always about mundane things, like something interesting he saw at the mall or a cute experience he had with one of the kids. He has some extraordinary stories too, like when he rode his bike over an alligator’s neck and it snapped at him. He also makes up completely goofy fictional stories, which I enjoyed as a kid and my kids enjoy today.
I love how my dad garners deep respect from anyone who really knows him. When I go to bike races, I love telling anyone I meet in the biking community that “I’m Gary’s daughter.” (I feel a little embarrassed saying this, of course, because I literally have the biking skills of my 6-year-old son. On my best days.) Anytime I meet someone who knows him, they say, “Oh, Gary, he’s my man! I love that guy!” A good reputation is better than riches.
I love how he loves to tease. Once, when I had my learner’s permit, he offered me two dollars to not drive us to church on a particular morning. He still teasingly repeats regrettable things my brother and I have said. It makes us feel special that he listens and remembers. His teasing has never been mean-spirited or made me feel truly embarrassed. I just feel loved.
I love that my dad was so involved in the match-making of Peter and me. He wasn’t the shotgun-yielding, don’t-even-look-at-my-precious-girl type dad. He just always wanted me to be in a good relationship. He knew I was slightly obsessed with Peter, he suspected there were some reciprocated feelings, and when he heard Peter and I singing along to Christian hip-hop together he knew that we were a good pair. So he craftily made sure Peter was able to get to know me in the context of our family…and, well, now we’re happily married with a small army of kids. My dad never said “I’m going to facilitate a courtship” or anything like that; he just helped my husband and I fall in love. And he’s always offered me support as we’ve made all kinds of unpopular decisions (such as the aforementioned army of kids), and that’s been huge.
I love how he’s smart. He didn’t need college to figure out how to be a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He worked hard, but more importantly, he worked smart. He’s helped Peter and I tremendously as we try to figure out wise ways to deal with money, and I’m so grateful he taught us about the important stuff like life insurance, a Roth IRA, and, most of all, generosity.
I love how he loves my mom. He treats her with a great deal of thoughtfulness and respect, and he just makes it really clear that he treasures her, finds her beautiful, and wants to spend time with her. (She’s super awesome, so, I mean, it makes sense.) They go to the movies together to watch the latest kids flick, which is weird, but also great.
I love how he cares deeply about our family having a culture of togetherness and love. This comes from our West Virginia/Kentucky heritage for sure. Family is an extremely high value, and whatever we can do to glue our family together is priority. I have so many fond memories of him winning me stuffed animals at Busch Gardens, or of waking up early and watching TV together while it was still dark. Once he even got up at 4:30 am to take me to a Krispy Kreme grand opening because I wanted to be on the news (it didn’t work.) The security I’ve felt in my dad’s love for me has helped me have a really healthy self-esteem that I’ve always resolved I wanted my daughters to find in their dad too.
I guess I didn’t notice how much I love my dad and admire so many of his qualities until I realized I married a man who has so many of those same qualities too. Really, these are some characteristics of Jesus as well: childlikeness, humility, wisdom, generosity, affection…there are many ways that my dad shows me the who Jesus is, and I admire him lots and lots for it.
Hey friends :)
For the past year and a half, I've been dipping my toes into graphic design a little bit. I'll talk more about that when I finish some more projects.
Anyway, something I really wanted to do was create scripture memory cards that my pre-literate kids could use. I also wanted these for myself, so I don't have to say "Uh, what's the first word to that one?" I've seen some scripture memory programs that use symbols related to the verse as cues for the kids, but they're super outdated, so I bought a set of flat icon vectors and I've been trying to link them with my favorite verses. The kids love scripture memory time, and now they can quiz each other, and my 2-year-old has been memorizing verses even when I haven't spent any time trying to teach her!
The reason they appear to be swapped around is because that's what worked best when I tried many different ways of printing them. (I'm bad at figuring out printers.) So the best way to print these out is: 1) Download each sheet (or click here to download all at once) by clicking on it. Open the file (if it doesn't open automatically) and click "print.)
2) Use low-ink settings and B&W to try out a page and make sure you got the front/back stuff right.
3) Print out page 1.
4) Insert page back into your printer's paper tray (for mine, I leave it printed-side-up.)
5) Print out page 2.
6) Make sure it worked (the symbols match on front and back)
7) Follow steps 2-6, except in high quality.
8) Laminate if possible (laminators cost like $18 on Amazon and the sheets are 10 cents each; you should totally buy one) and cut out.
We put ours in a little tin box and review them at breakfast. When I introduce a new verse, I usually try to explain the context, what the scripture means, and why it's important for us to know it.
And this is important: don't treat your kids like they're Christians or the children of God if they have not believed in Jesus. I tried to choose verses that are about God, and many of them are indeed about His love for His people, but if I tell my children that these verses are true for them when they don't know Jesus yet, then I'm making salvation seem cheap. I'm telling them that they are experiencing a personal relationship with God that they are not yet experiencing. So, as a reminder to all of us, let's just be mindful of that :)
So anyway, here they are!
I think all scriptures are in the ESV except for one, which I put in the CSB because I thought that made a lot more sense to little kids. In the future I'm going to consult both translations more often.
Also please let me know if you find errors! I was waiting for that magical day when I take pretty pictures and triple-check everything, but I've been out of town for a month and some friends have been waiting for me to post these so...let me know :)
Also, I plan on making some more sets soon. Respond in the comments with any scriptures that you think would be a valuable addition to your family! Feel free to tag @RecoveringWomanhood on Facebook or Instagram so I can see your family using these :)
My son turns six today. These get harder to write every year as my children bloom and grow and become more and more precious. As always (for those of you who have read Things I Love About Stephen, Years 1-5) it’s going to be sappy, so prepare thyselves. Here are some things I love about Stephen.
When he was a baby, Peter and I dreamed of him becoming a leader in our family. Our desire was that he would help establish a clear picture of our values—that he would exemplify the loving culture we are trying to create—to any other kids that enter our family, through birth or adoption. He has done this beyond what we expected, and he’s helped make the large family lifestyle not just possible but beautiful. He is a pace-setter for the other kids in love, respect, courage, tenderness, thoughtfulness, and, of course, silliness. It makes my job unfathomably easier.
I love how he’s a brilliant abstract thinker. When I sit and have an adult-level conversation with him, he understands it all. He asks questions if I use a word he doesn't know. He tracks with me. He responds with insights of his own. And my oh my, his insights are rich.
I love how he loves to hear stories about how difficult he was as a baby. I’ll say things like “Baby Piper took such good naps every day, but Fussy Baby? Oh my. Fussy Baby never ever wanted to take naps.” He giggles diabolically at that. He’s proud that he caused me so much trouble.
I love how he questions everything and thinks for himself. For example, we sing a lullaby to the girls that has the lyric “most beautiful girl in the whole wide world,” and Stephen is greatly troubled by that superlative statement. He told me he thinks I should stop singing that song to them because it says something negative about all the other girls in the world.
I love how he prayed for ISIS nearly every single day for probably three years. Now that Boko Haram is more of a pressing threat, he’s switched his focus to praying for them. He cares greatly about the suffering going on in the world, and he cares about hearts most of all. Every single day he prays that people might know Jesus.
I love how he and Piper can play for hours and hours. They build forts in his bunk bed (Stephen is king of the bungee cords), they built forts in a tree outside, they build hotels with Magna-tiles...though I know he longs for a brother, he is so happy and content to play sweetly with his sister.
I love how he deals with drama when playing with his sister is not so sweet. One day he came to me, sighed dramatically, and said, "Well, it seems that our fun has come to an end. Piper is mad at me for some reason. Can we watch Bear Grylls to cheer up my heart?"
I love how he's respectful. When I tell him to do or not do something, nine times out of ten he says “yes, Mommy.” If he doesn’t like or understand what I said, he says “okay, Mommy, but may I ask why?”
I love how applies himself in mountain biking. I'm not a sports person, but you'd better believe I cried when I saw him pedal his bike as hard as he could, cross the finish line in second place, and pant heavily afterwards because he truly pushed himself to do his best.
I love his sharp sense of humor. The hyper behavior and not-funny silliness that mark this age get on my nerves, and regrettably I have shown too little patience when he acts in those ways, but overall the dude is actually funny. Plus sometimes he's just cute, like when he hid a book in his Chewbacca pajamas when I was putting him to bed.
I love how he's competitive. We play UNO almost every night before bed, and he and I are quite evenly matched. Whenever I win, he tries desperately to "get my throne back." When he finally does reclaim his title as victor, he acts rather kingly, demanding things such as "Bring me my wine!"
I love how he talks about his "style." I'll be decluttering his drawers and ask him why he never wears a particular shirt, and he'll say "It's just not my style." I haven't figured out the formula for what his "style" is yet, but he sure seems to know.
I love how he's a hungry, hungry learner. For example, while I was reading him a book about survival skills, he took copious notes in a journal. Since he's not really writing yet, his "notes" were sketches and doodles, but when I asked him what they meant, he pretty much recited the book back to me!
I love how he loves any bit of autonomy I give him. I let him create a playlist on Amazon Music and he bragged about it to his sisters for days. He cooks chili and cranberry sauce by himself and the seasonings are only a little off. He thrives in responsbility and high expectations.
I love how he still likes to snuggle. When we were reading through the Wingfeather Saga, he and I made an agreement that I would keep reading as long as he would snuggle with me and play with my hair. We ended up reading over an hour most days because this arrangement worked so nicely.
The toughest thing about raising strong-willed children is I feel like I don't have control. His personality, his interests, his fears, even his fashion style, are not up to me. But that's such a good thing, because this boy is so much better than anyone I could've personalized to my liking. He's Stephen, he's brilliant, he's kind, he's my son.
In eleventh grade, I viciously researched and passionately composed an essay on why God doesn’t want Christians to be rich. My beliefs only grew stronger as I got older, and eventually I loved and married a man who hated the pursuit of riches as much as I did, maybe more. He had been raised under the prosperity “gospel” (Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and the like) and had seen its atrocious effects on people he loved, so the stench of wealth reeked to him. We made less than $19k our first year of marriage, and we were so, so happy. We depended on God to provide a vacuum cleaner we needed, and a customer gave us one (that we still use today.) I needed some clothes for the baby, and a neighbor's cousin dropped off a garbage bag full of them at our door. I felt like I was living out the biographies I'd read about people who depended on God. I loved it.
But work started slowing down and we had dreams of more children, so we both knew the income needed to increase a bit. So when a friend asked if Peter could wash her patio, he said "yes!" and with our two-week-old son, we drove to Home Depot and invested $500 on a pressure washer. It was a huge risk for us at the time. Peter's first “rig” was the backseat of our car, his first business cards were printed on perforated paper at our apartment’s clubhouse, and he found work by going door to door asking if anyone needed their driveway cleaned.
Despite the humblest of beginnings, the business grew fast. After three years, he was able to hire employees and walk away from doing the actual pressure washing himself. We bought a big house on a nice chunk of land with a workshop that would accommodate all his mac-daddy rigs. And now, nearly six years into business, at only 27 years old, he has seven employees, owns more trucks and equipment than I can keep track of, he started a second venture to keep busy during slow season, he gave a talk at the pressure washing convention in New Orleans, he has 100 five-star ratings on Google, and business is good. There isn’t really a way to describe what happened other than “prosperity.”
And, besides the first year of his business and until the latter half of 2017, I had been against all of it.
I regret to say that for a solid four years, my husband truly did not have my support. When people told me they were proud of him, I would stiffly thank them but later I would cry. I couldn't let myself say that God "blessed" his business, because material success felt so much like a curse. As he navigated hiring and letting go of employees or as he dealt with frustrating customers, I felt embarrassed and ashamed, even though he was truly doing a great job. Every single day I wished his job was different, and I longed for the good old days when he could clock in and clock out, and together we would manage our tiny paycheck. I hated our house, our stuff, our lives. I felt suffocated by comfort and the future seemed so dreadful—-so unrecognizably far from the selfless, simple life I envisioned—that I would have panic attacks weekly and I legitimately sunk into depression for years. Both of us were so off base with our view of work—Peter was slipping into greed and materialism, and I was full-fledged hateful, controlling, and self-righteous—that our animosities were feeding each other, and our marriage was a total disaster. We were committed to “death do us part” and we still had plenty of repentance, forgiveness, and bright spots as a family, but it was really, really ugly.
Even as my heart began to change, the word "success", when spoken in terms of business, made me want to gag. Why should a Christian think that making money can be viewed as “success” when the love of money is the root of all evil?
Peter and I had a long fireside conversation and I realized just how narrow and undeveloped my theology of work has been. We agreed that there’s a huge gap between entrepreneurial leadership gurus and humble, Christlike men, so we wondered: what is the in-between even supposed to look like? Is it possible to have an in-between? Can you be a successful businessman or woman and a selfless Christian who refuses to waste his or her life? Our navigation of this whole topic has been extremely messy, priorities have been all over the place, and thousands of dollars have been wasted as we figure it out, but for the first time I’m hopeful, excited, and I see our position of “success” as a blessing from God, maybe even a position that others should seek after and feel equipped to do themselves.
Here are some reasons that I now think Peter’s business is a good thing:
-His business supports twenty people when we include his employees' spouses and children. Because of this business, people who needed to get out of terrible or nonexistent jobs have been provided for. Because of this business I’m able to stay home and focus on loving and raising world-changers. We have four of them now, and I don’t think it’s prideful to say that no one can do my job as well as I can.
-His business frees his employees to worship God and give generously. Because of this business, there are eight fewer people who have to worry about working on Sunday or about making such tiny paychecks that they can’t give to others.
-His business makes many connections in our area and his knowledge and experience are a help to other business owners. They need to know someone who can say, “I’m successful, but that’s not ultimate to me. Also, here are some tips for sealing pavers or fixing a broken nozzle.” For once, they can meet a guy who is “networking” because he cares about other people, not because he’s trying to get something out of them. That’s pretty much unheard of, and it’s refreshing to them.
-His business sets us up for extremely generous giving in the long-term. This is a huge point of difficulty for me—especially considering that the poisonous prosperity gospel tells you that God wants you to be rich so you can give more—but I’m seeing that there’s such a thing as “seasons.” We need to give consistently and generously, but there’s also a place for investing so you can give more. There’s the parable of the guy who wasted his life building storehouses for all his stuff, but there’s also the parable of the guy who was given little but multiplied it greatly, to the pleasure of his boss...to the pleasure of God.
-The fragility of wealth should serve not only as a warning, but it should lead us in worship. Peter’s business is successful today. Something could happen tomorrow and we could lose it all. BUT the fact that there is success at all reminds us of God’s sovereignty. He owns everything and does what He wants. The ability to work is from Him (Deuteronomy 8:18.)
-There is rich theology in taking something small and making it grow into something beautiful, like a mustard seed that grows into a tree. It’s God who said “be fruitful and multiply.” There’s biblical language of that all over the place. If I can only see a pressure washing business as something good and beautiful, I can see my husband at the helm of it as an agent of good.
I'm so grateful God has been liberating me from so much closed-mindedness and from a terrible theology of work.
I'm grateful Peter stuck with me even when I pulled against him instead of strengthening him. I'm grateful to live in America, where entrepreneurship can thrive (even though the amount we're taxed is absolutely stupid.)
I'm grateful for awesome employees, and I'm grateful we live in a town where plenty of people have given this young guy a chance.
I'm grateful for Peter's Pressure Washing, and I would love to see more Christians owning successful businesses---yes, I used that "s" word---without compromising their passion for Jesus and making Him known in the world.
After taking more than a year-long break from Facebook and Instagram, I recently returned to Instagram. I was a little startled by how abruptly some strange habits and thought patterns returned. Whether to my benefit or detriment, Instagram causes some phenomena that don't happen naturally. I don't know if most people struggle with these, but---in case you are also re-evaluating your social media usage---I wanted to share some observations after going a year without, both positive and negative.
Suddenly I wanted to catch up on what my acquaintances have been up to. Have I seen them since middle school? Maybe once or twice. Will I see them again? Probably not. But now that I downloaded an app I'm almost urgently interested in their welfare! Stalking someone on social media is so alluring for the same reason that gossip is so alluring: we gain access to knowledge that doesn't naturally belong to us. We haven't invested in the friendship or necessarily disclosed anything about ourselves to this person, but now all of a sudden we can scroll far down the list and see what her college major was and how many boyfriends she had last year.
I became more body-conscious. Most people who post pictures of themselves on Instagram are photogenic and, well, thin. Looking in the mirror after spending a couple weeks back on Instagram, I felt less attractive than "everybody else" than I usually do; I'm typically content in that department. In the real world, most people around me also have muffin tops, meh clothing, and forgettable hair, and it really doesn't matter. Instagram shows us the most aesthetically pleasing pictures of the batch taken by image-conscious people in their most stylish clothes, on their best hair days, who get praised by the masses for the way they look. I'm not skinny-shaming or fat-shaming anyone here and I'm not even talking about Insta models (I don't follow those.) I was just a little bummed that my self-confidence in my appearance faded so quickly by comparing myself to a skewed sampling of the population.
I started caring, quantitatively, what other people think of me. Unless you're living in Black Mirror's Nosedive episode, people don't evaluate your worth quite so publicly. You don't have a number of followers to quantify how many people are interested in what you have to say. Your shared opinions aren't evaluated by likes. So, in the real world, I'm just trying to communicate with others in the best way I can. On social media, it's difficult not to bend my posts toward what's been well-received in the past. It's harder to be "myself" when I know what parts of "myself" people seem to like more than others.
My inner dialogue increased. I felt more self-aware, introspective, and special/interesting...all in unhealthy ways. It took about six months after quitting social media before I finally stopped crafting captions in my mind, but those habits had no trouble returning when I began posting on Instagram again. Something changes in the way I live when occasionally an experience will produce the thought, "That would be a good post!" And now, with Instagram Stories, there's the added complexity of "Is this worth an actual post or should this just be a lighthearted temporary thing?"
So those are the downsides. But I think I'm going to keep Instagram around. Here's why.
I love being connected with some of the people I don't naturally see often. There are some people (like Lana, Steph, and Rebecca) who I've met only once yet deeply longed to be best friends with, but most of them live in other states. And some people (like Diana, Lauren, and Alex) are dear friends who have moved far away, and though we've been texting pictures of our kids to each other, it's so great being able to see more frequent updates. That's a really beautiful thing about social media: we're able to maintain relationships with people we really do care about.
I am genuinely encouraged by some of the things I see on there. Joy is contagious, and there are some people that I am just seriously happy for. Instagram, unlike Facebook, is generally upbeat and positive. The comments are set up for giving compliments, not for debates. So seeing smile after smile of people that I love and respect, I am happy for them. I'm so grateful that my hard-working friend finally got her Master's or that my friend with photography skills landed a dream job in NYC. I'm so grateful that a woman I know who was struggling with infertility is now expecting her second child. I'm so grateful that another woman I know who was struggling with infertility is speaking openly about how she can still have joy in her pain. Some beautiful truths and stories are being documented on Instagram, and it's a great place where I can "rejoice with those who rejoice."
Instagram Stories are plain ol' fun. I don't think the feeling of walking side-by-side in life with someone via Stories is as dangerously artificial as I thought it would be; it's merely fueling my love for people I already love. (And if people annoy me with their posts, I just unfollow them! Easy.)
Will Smith's instagram is so funny! And he has dropped some major wisdom-bombs when he's being serious. He definitely makes positive contributions to society by his presence on social media. Which brings me to my last point:
The fact of the matter is, people my age live on social media, and I really care about being a blessing to people my age. I don't like how social media leads millennials to to think about marriage, parenting, and---most importantly---Jesus, so if I can paint a different, more attractive picture of those things by having a presence on social media, I certainly want to do that. I want to communicate to the world that I think for myself but I also believe the Bible is completely true. I want to exemplify that a fun-loving 25-year-old can also have four kids and a committed marriage. If a fellow free spirit finds it hard to believe that a life with limitations can be a happy one, I would like to show them with living proof!
Also, though re-entering instagram was initially addicting (I severely lack self-control), a life of scrolling on feeds has lost its charms. I'm pretty convinced that real-life experiences with real people are better. I know that wanderlust is empty and that traveling to cool-looking places isn't going to fulfill me. I know that, for the sake of my mental health and emotional stability, I need to be off the screen more, and I need to stop comparing myself to others. (After all, according to TIME magazine last year, Instagram is the worst social media for mental health.) So hopefully now I can enjoy and use all the beneficial aspects of social media without being ruled by them as I have in the past. And, if not, I can always delete the app for another year or so and try again later.
Hopefully that helps if you're navigating all this! :)
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today