Katie's Unplug Story

UnPLUG---it's the Potter's Inn Challenge! Most of us are way too wired. We're always "on" and "available." We're excited as our challenge beings to spread across the world and we're hearing from people and what they are doing with their Unplug Challenge! Meet Katie. She shares her story of learning to Unplug below...

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I am someone who is way too attached to my device.  I am a stay at home mom and a lot of times sadly my “escape” from my reality of dirty diapers and constant cleaning is to veg out on my phone.  I'll go to the world of Facebook, Instagram, or You Tube to watch others live their lives and to try and receive some type of validation for my life too.  Since toddler conversation can be limited I would practice this “escape” while sitting down to breakfast or lunch, riding in the car while my husband drives, always feeling like I needed to be “caught up” on the latest that social media had to offer.

I’ve always wanted to let go of this addiction because as much as I continue to practice these habits I know they are life sucking rather than life giving.  I was so very glad to see the Potters Inn Unplug Challenge!  It’s helped push that desire in me to actually give up this habit for a day and I’m hoping to give it up entirely!I chose Sunday as my day to unplug and what a GIFT it has already been for me!  I still kept my phone on me, but did not pull it out during our drive to church to catch up on Facebook, didn’t pull it out on the drive home from church to post a cute picture, didn’t pull it out during lunch to look at someone else’s cute picture, and best of all I didn’t pull it out when my kids went down for their nap.  Instead I pulled out an encouraging magazine and read this line “We don’t see better by straining our eyes.  We see better by centering our souls.” (Leeana Tankersley)  And I was doing just that!Taking the Unplug Challenge gave me the chance to be more present with my kids, my husband, and in the moment.  I was looking up instead of looking down, centering my soul rather than straining my eyes over my device.  Now I know that I will look forward to Sundays because they will be my life giving day!-Katie from Washington DCReady to join the Unplug Challenge?  Read more HERE.  Print the commitment card and choose one day a week to unplug from technology.  We'd love to hear your story.  Share it below!

Our Dilemma and God's Solution for our Lives

There is a better way to live and a solution to our dilemma! Our solution is life on God’s terms!Every day, I hear the complaints, laments and confessions of people who are tired, worn out and burned out. I am concerned because I hear these messages more than at any other time in my life and work. Being absorbed in the daily hassles of surviving; driven by the tyranny of the urgent and competing demands upon their time, energy and passion, life is demanding. Contentment feels as if it is life on another planet or perhaps only in eternity.We live frayed. We live fragmented. We live divided and we call this way of living the “abundant life.” Deep down, we know that any sense of abundance has eluded us and we resign to live our lives in a quiet resignation of desperation.[tweetthis]The solution to our dilemma is life on God’s terms. [/tweetthis]The fateful dilemma that we have found ourselves living in at this present time is assuaged when we realize that there really is another way of living and a solution offered to us. If we could live a life marked by robust sanity, we'd be crazy not to live our life in a way that promises us a true solution.The life of a person who is following Jesus is first of all a life! It is not ascribing to a doctrinal list of beliefs. Following Jesus is a new way of living—not just going to church; not just saying that we believe; not just adding Jesus into our already crowded lives. Jesus offers us a way of living that cultivates life—a life that is free from the brutal tyranny marked by exhaustion, speed and busyness.The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all” (Romans 8:3 MSG). Our disordered mess is something Jesus came to address, rescue us from and offer us an alternative way that would be radically different from tending the grave clothes of our lives and calling that tending—life.In my work and every day in my work with people, I hear almost the exact same words that Paul again penned for us that describe so well, our every day lives:“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” (Romans 7:24).The solution is life on God’s terms.Life on God’s terms is marked by several characteristics, that if embraced and practiced —actually yield a life that is marked by peace from our inner angst; well-being rather than sub coming to the malaise of our current condition and a life that is satisfying and fulfilling. The life lived by Jesus, described by the writers of the New Testament and actually lived out by men and women in other generations can be ours today. Many of us are so absorbed and exhausted by our day-to-day lives that we have forgotten and possibly ignored the fact that there is a solution for us.To live this life—to attain this new life—we must wake up from the lull of our sleep and the numbness our current condition has resulted in and start to live in a whole new way. We can live oblivious to this way of life and daily choose to try to survive—rather than thrive.The life lived by Jesus and revealed in the Scriptures is marked by several important distinctions.

  1. A life of rhythm. A life of rhythm is a life where we engage in our work and activities but then we dis-engage. We are not always on, available and obsessed with the doing of our lives. We discover a rhythm that is sustainable; a rhythm that fosters life within us not one that we endure with a slow, steady leak—draining us without any re-filling. Our obsession with work/life balance shows our predicament. We would rather try to “manage” our lives which few can do, to live in a rhythm where we are “on” then learn to truly “cease.” We see in Jesus’ own life a clear way of living that sustained and strengthened him to finish well—not burn out or give up or resign to a fate that was not his own choosing. Choose a daily and weekly rhythm. Choose to honor this rhythm and live in this rhythm for a month--a full 30 days and see what a difference you will experience.
  2. A life with attention to the soul. Our interior life needs attention. Otherwise we will ignore the place where true life begins and emerges from—inside us. When we examine the life lived by Jesus and offered to us, we learn that Jesus used silence and solitude to foster the life within. He pulled away from noise, people and things and entered lonely places (Luke 5:16). There, in the quiet and stillness around him and within him, a deeper way of living is born—a life more meaningful than all of this hurried existence we experiences. Inner silence is that place where peace, contentment and satisfaction is cultivated. Without attention to our inner life—we will live obsessed with outer markers of success and live divided; rushed; and annihilating our souls. All spiritual writers agree on this one and fundamental point. Silence and solitude promote well being and without silence, it is virtually impossible to live the life Jesus came to offer us. A healthy life—a life that is living well—is a life that honors the interior life. What results is an active life—a life of giving out but a life also of intake, receiving and being. Practice 15 minutes of quiet every say and one hour of silence and solitude every week. Build this into your life. Turn off your technology and fast from being on and available.
  3. A life of priority. Jesus made it clear—first things first. By this he raised our consciousness to live with a vertical perspective—a life continually focused with a Kingdom perspective. This is a perspective that we first establish in our lives—to live for what really matters. We then learn to re-focus and return to this way of seeing life as we lose focus, get consumed and need to return to our real and right priorities in life. We simply get back into the way of living with God as our solution and the ways of Jesus as our proven ways that nourish life. We can lose perspective and we can get off track—yet, we can also return and change our direction. We move away from “managing our lives” and spinning plates to a whole and other way of living. Wake up to the spiritual dimension of life and grow your soul by doing first things first!
  4. A life of prayer. When we learn to live by prayer, we live in a deeper, more reflective and less reactionary way of living. A life of prayer is a life of going to our inner room—our hearts and learning to pray with words and without words. We experience the God who is truly with us in our day-to-day living and we turn often and quickly into a posture of prayer that becomes a place of life and encounter. So many of us struggle here. Having never been taught how to pray, we limp along. And implement new ways of being with God through prayer.
  5. A life of living in a healthy way. True life is living with true health in mind. We honor our bodies. We rest them. We tend to them. We give the body what it needs to live and to live well. Since we are what we eat—we live with this in mind. We learn to make choices with our body that sustain us—rather than deplete us. We receive through good sleep, good movement and good nourishment. Since our bodies are the “temple” we live in a way that matters and does not abuse the physical address of our souls. Eat. Move. Sleep. These are the big three ways of honoring the physical dimension of our lives.
  6. A life of forgiveness. We live making mistakes, messing up and stained by sin. The life of Jesus is a life of continual turning from the results of our failures with God, others and self and living clean. Forgiveness is at the core of the teachings of Jesus. We forgive our enemies. We forgive those who hurt and disappoint us and we learn that we can forgive ourselves. The journey towards forgiveness is a necessary pilgrimage to live a life of peace. There is no peace without forgiveness. We let go of hurts and failures. Sin is assuaged and we live without self condemnation that plagues so many of us. Sit quietly and see if your attention is drawn to someone you need to move towards and take the initiative to forgive today.
  7. A life of serving others. The Dead Sea in the Middle East is dead because there is no outlet. The waters pour into this basin but there is no place for the sea to give out. A healthy life is a life of making outlets to give our lives to others and then we realize that this paradox happens. As we give—we are the ones who also receive. The hymn writer said, “Because I have been given much, I too, must give.” The life of Jesus is not an escape from human need and misery. It is a life of giving love, mercy and a simple cup of water to those in dire need. Choose to give to something to someone every day and certainly every week.

 Each of these seven distinctions require choices and action steps. We come to realize that this distinctive and living this way may not really be our normal way of living. But we can create a new normal—a life that is marked by these very normal and realistic, yet life altering ways of living. We sometimes live our lives on auto-pilot thinking that we do not have to give attention to some or all of these markers of true life. Yet, as we practice each marker—as we give each distinctive daily, weekly and monthly attention, we live our own healing and participate in our own transformation. As we live a whole “other” way—we discover that we are living a whole and other kind of life—a life marked by the ways of Jesus and a life sustained by God’s Spirit within us.What we need is a plan---a way to do this new life.  I believe that if practiced and embraced, these seven distinctives will yield the life we long for--the life we are attempting to live.  Take each of the seven distinctives and make a plan to begin to practice each one. These are not things to "add" to an already over committed life. The answer may well be to take away other things that over promise and under-deliver the life you want to live.For each distinctive, consider taking something out of your life and life style so that you can replace it with the markers that will sustain you and cultivate the life you long for right now.It's time to wake up and start living!     

Thwarted!

IMG_0633It was finally time. The long awaited, desperately needed Sabbatical was now to be a reality. I felt like a runner in position, bent over the starting line ready to break lose as soon as the gun fired. Already I had heard “On your mark, get set…” . Waiting with baited breath to hear “GO”, I didn’t, I heard something else. Fear shouted loudly instead. Suddenly guilt coursed through my veins when just moments earlier it was desperate anticipation and excitement. The ‘GO” dwindled into a muffled whisper and all I could hear were the deafening shouts of fear, guilt and shame. My hope and joy for Rest, Renewal and Retooling fell dead in their tracks…thwarted!

Thus began my encounter with that which had me in such desperate need of Sabbatical in the first place. Fear has that subtle way of smearing its sticking film over everything. The latest layer of it settled on my heart when I realized that by choosing rest, I was choosing trust. My sabbatical would mean a relinquishing of my most important post; that post as a loving mother to my son and daughter in law who were weeks away from the birth of their son who they knew would die shortly after holding him in their longing arms. They needed me! Choosing rest would mean trusting God to care for them better than I could. Could I trust like that? Would I? The fear of being a ‘bad mom’ paralyzed me and quickly gave way to guilt. Guilt sucked the breath right out of me when I saw that I had a choice to make. Would I choose to put the oxygen mask on myself before trying to be the oxygen of all oxygen I thought my grieving kids needed? What if they got mad at me for leaving for a few weeks? What if they really needed me and I wasn’t there? What if…?? Fear to guilt to shame! Shame on me for being needy…and the beat goes on.These wicked triplets, fear, guilt and shame, disguised themselves to be the culprits that were proud to thwart, to hijack the divine plan that was provided and in place for my health and well being, for I really was in a desperate state. But, as is usually the case with chronic exhaustion, my guard was down, sound judgment was lacking. I was ready to blame anything or anybody for what was really my own choosing. I was too tired and worn to see that the very best way to help my children was to choose trust. The providential timing for Sabbatical was the first of many invitations that I courageously chose to accept. By choosing rest I stood with holy resolve in the deceitful faces of fear, guilt and shame and they had no power over me. My kids blessed me and sent me to the One who had open arms outstretched for me, trusting that He would return me to them with my open arms outstretched and ready to hold their broken hearts. And I did.Proverbs 3:21-24  Guard sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight…then you will go on your way in safety and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be afraid.