Tag Archives: christmas

Not Under the Tree

Yesterday at church Father started his sermon talking about which experience was better: Attending a Husker game in person or watching it on TV. He expanded on the idea to discuss how important it is to be present in our faith, to be present in our lives.

Then my youngest daughter noticed that time moves. I let her wear my watch during church. At first she was fascinated by the backlight button. She would push the button, then cup her hand over the face to see the numbers light up. Toward the end of the service, she noticed that the numbers changed. My daughter updated me every minute through the last song.

“Dad, it’s 10:28 now!” she announced.

She was fascinated with this new knowledge… that time moves on… no matter what we do.

We can spend it on a phone. We can spend it on a computer. We can spend it learning. We can spend it with friends and family. Are we present as time moves forward?

Being present means that we have to deal with both the positive and negative of our lives. This is the biggest hurdle for us. It is easy to be present in our life when things are good. But to be present in life when things are tough, when you have to face the truth of your life, to face your fears and doubts; that takes strength.

The other hurdle is the simple task of being present in the routine of life. We work, we clean, we post on social media, we eat a snack, we live everyday. Being present in the routine is hard. It is easy to just let time move forward. “It’s 10:17! Time for bed.” And another day goes by without us really living it.

To be present everyday. To embrace the complexity of this existence. To face our fears. To love with an open heart. To find joy in this world. That means living our life. That is opening a present that can’t be found under the tree.

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Enough of…

Christmas tree with title

It was about 2 o’clock this morning.  I was stroking my little girl’s hair, trying to help her fall back to sleep after giving her some medicine. She came home with a fever and scratchy throat. She was sleeping on the couch, so I was sleeping on the floor. She wouldn’t fall asleep alone, even with the Christmas tree lights still on. I was staring at the Christmas tree with two presents underneath when I thought about what it would be like if that was all the presents we placed under the tree.

I thought about how the girls would react on Christmas morning. Their shocked expressions. I thought about what they might say. What would we say? I was tired, alright…  But, as you, faithful readers know, I started to think about something deeper.

The scene in my head faded as I knew that there would be more presents under the tree. I smiled as my daughter shifted and began to breathe deeply, finally falling back to sleep. I also smiled because I was thinking about how my children would smile as they opened their presents. As a family we do reinforce that gifts are one way that people share their love with each other. That no matter what the gift is, it was given in love.

But then my thoughts turned. I gingerly lifted my hand from my daughter’s hair. Waiting to see if she would wake back up. She didn’t. I turned fully to face the Christmas tree. And I reflected on an idea I had been think about for a while now, that the world has enough of…

The world has enough hate.

The world has enough pain.

The world has enough ignorance.

The world has enough broken hearts and broken dreams.

The world has enough apathy.

The world has enough phoniness.

 

What the world needs, and not just for Christmas, is Love.

The world needs more books, more poetry.

The world needs respect.

The world needs more people striving for their dreams, having their heart on fire because they are pursuing their goals.

The world needs more people supporting each other, instead of dragging others down.

The world needs more children to smile, every morning.

 

Maybe it was the tiredness, or the way the lights promised a beautiful moment if only for a while, but I started to cry. I felt overwhelmed by everything. The classroom, a sick child, being a father, of the fear I have every time my children walk out the front door into this world.

But there was already two presents under the tree, there would be more. There would be smiles and joy because every present is a symbol of someone’s love for the recipient.

And then there is this post, these words… they are my gift to you, every time.

 

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Life Without a Phone

iphoneI know this is going to shock you… I have been without my iPhone for two weeks. It finally died during Christmas break. I have a replacement phone on the way, but it is back-ordered. I’ve learned a few things about how a smartphone impacts our daily life.

Emerson

Created at PicLit.com

First, life goes on. Honestly. in some ways, it has been good not to have my phone… or maybe I should say apps. Some readers may have noticed that I have not been as active on Twitter lately. Especially with sharing my typography photos I make with Typic. Which I also share those photos on iTagged and Instagram. I do miss taking photos and not just for the creative things I do with them.

I could not take a photo of any of my children during the break. No smiling faces as they opened presents. No fun shots as the family let our new guinea pig, Kota, play in the living room.  Even worse, no chance to share those photos with Grandma and grandpa in Wyoming. I also couldn’t send text messages to other friends and family just to say hello. Let alone communicate with my wife to handle our busy everyday life. Who’s picking up who? Can I stop and get milk?

But life goes on.

I am more connected with the people around me. I’m not checking my Twitter notifications while my daughters take a bath.  I’m playing or talking to them as they make bubble beards. I am getting projects completed in half the time at work. I notice how people are feeling through their eyes. And honestly, right now, I feel more relaxed.  I feel free, not connected to my phone.

This feeling is interesting because when my phone first died I was stressed. I couldn’t check in on one of my favorite games, Puzzle and Dragons. Puzzle and Dragons uses a simple psychology reinforcement of tracking how many days you have played total and how many days in a row. Before my phone died, I had played for over 600 days. My streak was 496 days. Now, I don’t spend hours a day playing Puzzle and Dragons. But as you can see, I was connected to it.I won’t even discuss how many worlds I have lost in Minecraft Pocket EditionTheTop

 

 

 

I can’t calculate  how much time I spent with Twitter alone. Add all the time I listen to my music, checking Flipboard, researching new apps and just texting friends, and you can see that I was connected to the phone.

There are a number of studies about our addictive behavior with technology, this is a true concern for our development as people and a culture. These last two weeks have been an interesting case study of how connected my life is to my phone. Without my phone I am more connected with the people around me.  I’m more connected to what is going on in my life right now. But without my phone my connections with people and interest is affected. Connecting with my family in other states, friends and colleagues on Twitter, and even communicating with my family to make our daily life run smoothly has been lost.  I miss taking photos and playing Puzzle and Dragons. I miss creating typography pictures.

I learned I can live without a smartphone and when I get my replacement to make sure I disconnect from the phone to connect with the people around me. The past two weeks have reinforced that technology should enhance our lives, not control them.

But the most interesting thing I learned is that I don’t want to live without a smartphone. And that idea is for another post, I think the mailman has just pulled up…

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